Morocco over Xmas and New Year 2005
More Luck than sense

More Luck than Sense: 3 Short Stories...

1. Chrimbo Maroccaine

A quick sign of life. This arabic keyboard is doing my head in.

It's been pretty mad today: Got stuck in mud up a mountain. It was really hard work: Thick thick soggy clay. Fell off 3 times and back wheel jammed with mud and stones in wheel arch. It was my own fault. Guide book said not to go up there in winter. The last bit was too steep and slippy too. So, I never made it to destination of Cirque du Jaffar Cake.

I had changed tyres in Gibraltar at Quick Fit. There were no ferries across Gibraltar Straits from Algeciras scheduled for the next 3 days: Huge storms. I finally made it to Morocco a day late after 200 miles driving in Spain. I took the Almeria to Nador night-ferry and slept on floor.

Mobile phone connections here are better than in Windsor. Maybe Orange can get some Moroccan engineers to work for them?

The people are very friendly. Most men wear a djellaba, which when it’s white makes them look like KK-Klansmen… Everybody waves as you drive past. There are the usual maties trying to flog rugs and other b*llocks, but luckily they do have pride and take no for an answer when I say it nice and firmly. I haven’t been rude to anyone, yet.

I’m heading to Erg Chebbi tomorrow for Xmas. Big sand dunes there. Itwill hopefully also be warmer. The mountains were cooooold. So far, I’ve met no tourists what-so-ever. So could be a quiet one as the locals here don't believe in the JC and the Holy Goat malarkey.

2. Maroc the 2nd : Timing is everything

I presume you read my last dodgy utterances. Chrimbocouscous was a complete non-event. Did it really happen? This was kind of how I like it. No pressure. Did some zooming around the sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi. In the afternoon a wind blew up and I can now safely confirm that my tent may be water and snow proof, but by the ½ cm of this magnolia coloured stuff covering everything, it isn't sand resistant. Oh well, whatever: I moved into a hotel room.

I decided that the mountains needed another visit. Another mistake? I'd like to call it an "adventure". Got some interesting pics...

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I had a great ride up the Todra Gorge and after a good night camping I decided to carry on round to do a circuit into the Dades Gorge. At 2pm all was fine. By 3 it was a complete white out. Snow, snow and more, you’ve guessed it... I managed to get back to the place where I had lunch (Agoudal). It carried on all night. Nice view in the morning though.

Thus, had a big epic today, including 150 mile (via Irmichil and Er Rich) detour to get out of mountains. Fell off about 10 times before getting to the paved road that was also iced over for about 20 miles. You know the "funny" film with the swans sliding all over the frozen lake... Well imagine Brighty doing more pirouettes than he really wanted to... The kids in the villages I drove through were highly amused. Occasionally I even saw the funny side too.

Frankie-Moosey-The-Trannie (1987 "remodelled" Transalp) is truckin' on, but these various mountain epics are putting a major spanner in my timings. So I've made the executive decision to miss out further highland excursions and will head for Zagora tomorrow. (Am in Er Rachidia tonight). Then I'll aim to head up through the desert back to Erg Chebbi to be able to flick the bird at Charlie Boring as he pants passed on his Lisbon to Dakar jaunt. Then it'll be back north to catch a ferry back to Spain and the flight to GB.

Hope your festive period is fruitful. Since arriving in Moroc I haven't had a drop of booze. Not because you can't get it (you can), but just haven' been in the mood.

3. Lucky lucky boy: Moroc the Third and Final

Hope you had a good new year. Here's the final instalment. In bullet-point format. Am all prosed out.

• Was in bed in Zagora (home of the famous "Timbouktou 52 jours" sign) at 11pm on 31 Dec. Something to do with the enlivened company of my German bike maties?

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• Set off Bright and early on 01 Jan across the piste north towards Merzouga and Erg Chebbi (again).

• Made it about 120km. Fell off and trapped under bike. Took 1 hour to free self. In that time no traffic passed by.

• German mates appear.

• Rode another 10 km. Totally toasted clutch in big sandy bit.

• It gets dark at 6. Couple of Berbers wander by. One is called "Brian"(?).

• At about 8pm pickup truck miraculously appears.

• He takes me and bike to Berber's village, about 10km across the sand and scrub.

• Camp in Brian’s family’s yard with goats and donkey etc.

• Now it's 2nd Jan. Drive with bike in Mercedes truck 5 hours for 100km along bad piste to town (Risanni). During this time I eventually realise that Brian is in fact called "Ibrahim".

• Backstreet mechanic and his son open motor. Can't get old clutch out because thread is damaged. Using lots of ingenuity and welding equipment we finally do it.

• Yep, clutch is Donald Ducked. Mechanic suggests calling Casablanca for possible new part. But no time…

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• Hang on says son: I've got an old 1970s Honda XL500 motor with a broken piston in the back room. Let's have a look. The clutch might be the same.

• The 1 in a 1000 chance that they are identical is…. True. My bike is a XLV600, so maybe it wasn't 1 in a thousand, but still….

• Put new, second hand clutch in.

• Ride 80km down road to Erg Chebbi and arrive before nightfall.

• Now on 3rd Jan. Am near Check Point 1 at 8am for sand dune stage of Day 4 of 2006 Lisbon - Dakar.

• These guys are truly unbelievable riders, car drivers and truckers. The speed…

• Pointed a few competitors in the right direction. Never saw Charlie Boring (he would have had number 172) or the Harley Davidson Chair. Took lots of pics.

• Today, 4th Jan, touch wood, clutch still going great after 500km. Am near Meknes and intend to take ferry to Spain tomorrow.

• Flight on 7th to LHR. Start work in Bradford on Monday 9th.

• Have flat cap, but still missing ferret, pigeon and whippet.
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