ARRIVAL IN MARRAKESH
Very late of September of 2014 starts our Atlas mountains cycling trip. We packed your bicycles and flew to Marrakesh to explore in ten days Atlas Mountains and get to know a Berber culture that is so significance to this region. After arrival in Marrakesh we transferred to our booked riad called Taghazoute. The afternoon we spent taking a walk in the center of the city, changing money and negotiating the transfer for the next morning to Demnate situated 120 km east of Marrakesh where is the start of the adventure. We were going to ride almost 500 km with 10.000 mts descent.
THE CYCLING ADVENTURE STARTS IN DEMNATE
I think it was one of the hardest but also the most exciting day. Full of emotions and expectations we sat to a taxi driver’s Mercedes at six in the morning leaving the crazy city of Marrakesh behind and heading to Atlas Mountains. The guide book we had says that there are two options of today’s route ending in the same place. As the book says that the second option is worth of going for its authenticity because it is very isolated part of Atlas we decided for this one. Much longer and harder but we had to see it. Everything is so new and different to our culture and apart it is one of the poorest parts of Morocco. You do not know their language or habits. Every time we entered to a village we felt like an extraterrestrial thanks to our shiny bikes and colored cloth.
TRYING TO BUY A BREAD
We wanted to buy a bread in the first village we saw. There were so many children and they were everywhere. Usually they stop playing and start to run behind our bikes asking for a pencil or any small thing. It was impossible to buy a bread! You can get some sweets and cookies, but no bread. We were in shock. No bread. What are we going to eat? The book says there is no more villages with any shop on the rest of the route. Passing other village we stopped again and ask other people for a bread. Just to explain what we want, took us quite a long time. They lead us to the center of the village, they opened a door of which seemed like a garage. It was the local store. But no bread again. We explained again what we want and they seemed to understand this time. The man called couple of kids, told them something and the kids disappeared. In ten minutes the kids got back with two fresh still warm breads. Now comes the point of the story. They did not want us to pay them for the bread. They do not sell the bread in the store as every family makes its own bread. At least we gave them some things for the kids. It was our first day on the road and we lived this unusual experience. We started to pedal again. No words, no talking just silences for pretty long time thinking of what just got happened because it brought us to an emotion. This time we still did not know that it is going to be like that for the rest of the trip.
ENTERING INTO THE HIDDEN VALLEYS OF ATLAS
Around a midday we entered deep into the valleys of Atlas, the weather was hot but one could support that. We started a quite long ascent in a rough terrain. As we climbed, the hills and peaks appeared before our eyes, the noise of the creeks was slowly disappearing and the valleys become more and more hollow. Rest of the day we were mostly climbing up and we were getting tired. Along the route we were passing through various villages and at the end of the day we stopped at one to ask for the bread. We pulled back our bikes on the street right before the local school where we asked a man inside for a bread. He was a French-speaking teacher of the school so everything went very fast. Two kids ran away meanwhile we spent waiting for the bread talking to the teacher about the life in this such an isolated part in the mountains. In fifteen minutes we got our warm bread (for free for sure), we gave thanks to whoever made the breads and set on again to start looking for a place to stay overnight somewhere outside of the village.
¡GIVE ME A PLACE TO STAY OVERNIGHT!
It started slowly getting dark, the path climb up pretty much and we could find any good place to stay. Tired, we kept going up leaving behind the last village. Pushing the bikes because of the steepness. We pass couple of cottages and open shelters we might possibly stay but seemed that somebody cares of it so we did not want to disturb entering to somebody’s private space. We always were trying to respect all the people, pedestrians, riding donkeys, horses etc. There was no place we liked there as the terrain was practically a slope covered with stones. No flat place. Finally we stopped at one u turn maybe just because there were a couple of trees in this place. And we were tired and hungry. We set on fire to prepare the soup. Meanwhile, we changed our cloth to get more comfortable. We tried to relax, but it was not possible because we still were not sure were to make our first night bed no flat place around without stones. Actually there was one spot but we kept looking for another one as we were not much convinced about it. While eating our soup we noticed the wind was kind of increasing, which did not give us much tranquility. Then it started slowly raining. It was almost dark when we decided to descend to the shelter we saw before that was next to a couple of houses. It was already night when we got there. The place was not very clean and smelled of sheep. A dog nearby started to bark and suddenly appeared a light of a lamp. We saw nothing else but a flash light. I tried to speak my French but there was no answer from the other side. We tried to communicate for some time until Marcelo got closer and resolve the situation. The situation was not very comfortable trying to enter to somebody’s shelter at night without a possibility to communicate.. Finally the light was hold by an ancient woman and she gave us a permit to stay overnight. We felt as if we were in a 5-star hotel. She also gave us some blanquettes and two apples. So, this is how the first day of our Atlas mountains cycling trip finished.