02 May 2010

To Marrakech!

Slept pretty well in the Hotel Malabar, with the door open and the sea breezes...but I had a lot of ground to cover that day, so I got up early, had a fairly mediocre but filling hotel breakfast, and hit the road again.

I went south from Essaouira, along the coast toward Agadir. Actually at first the road goes inland, into the Argan nut orchard region. Argan oil is apparently good for cooking, or seasoning, or something, but I never got around to trying any so can't say for sure. But the nuts must taste really good, because the goats i
n this region like them so much that they climb into the trees to eat them, it is really pretty cool:

This fellow is the tree-climbing goats' shepard. He was a nice guy, although when he cracked open one of the nuts and handed it to me, I wish he'd have told me I was supposed to rub it on my skin, not eat it...he only told me after I'd eaten the thing--it was incredibly bitter, and the taste didn't leave my mouth for a couple of hours.
After leaving the goats, I continued down the coast to Agadir, a beautiful ride. Here is somewhere near Agadir:
Agadir itself is a real hole, very glad I didn't stay there. Very industrial in the north, and very blah in the center. Essaouira was much better... So I blew through Agadir and headed toward Marrakech via Tourandannt and the Tizi'n'test pass. Had planned to stop in Tourandannt for a little tour, but it was so freaking hot there--about 100 degrees--that I just kept going. Plus--another first--a stupid bee stung me inside my helmet as I was passing through town, so I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

A bit past Tourandannt the road forked off to the left for Tizi-n-Test, which I have heard is pretty awesome. Here are some pictures I took at a cafe near the top, and the propietor of said cafe:
Kept going up, lots of great vistas, more cafes...I liked this shot with the milestone to Marrakech, really feel like I'm in Morocco now!
Here are some more shots from along the road:
And here is the famous Tin Mal mosque, built in the middle of nowhere. It was interesting enough, I guess, but after a while, you see one big mud building, you've seen them all:
Here are a few more pix as I descended from the Atlas Mountains down toward Marrakech:
I finally pulled into Marrakech in late afternoon, and spent some time looking for a hotel. The first place did not have secure parking. The second place had no rooms the third place had a room, and I took it, but it was a hole. Literally, about as big as a closet, with no windows, very hot, and reeking of urine. I left my stuff there and went to park the bike in some ancient caravansary:
After going back to the hotel, I was so underwhelmed that I walked around, found a much better hotel a couple hundred meters away, carried all of my stuff over and checked out of the first place--that was also a first, but was planning to be in Marrakech for two nights and didn't want to stay in a hole. The second place was hardly the Ritz, but the room was much nicer, and the place had a rooftop cafe with a killer view of Marrakech's main square:
These pix were taken from the roof of the hotel, but they hardly do the square justice--in the pix it looks like it could be a flea market in Omaha, but in fact the square is incredibly exotic, with strange music, singing, smells, noises, and sights. Monkeys, cobras, tatoo artists, etc. It really comes alive at night, here are some pix (many more did not turn out...):
The souk in Marrakech is also very cool, I did some shopping there, but didn't buy much. Worst thing about Marrakech is it was very hard to find beer. In fact, I didn't find any and had to rely on the wine I brought from Spain, which I enjoyed with a cigar on the roofdeck of the hotel.

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