topics: Madigh (Madarh) region, Beni-Snassen Mountains, Nador, environment, bicycle safety; jump to dispatch

BikeAbout Log


Rider Notes: October 9, 1997

Breakfast: We had no time for a real sit-down breakfast because we were readjusting brakes, loading the bikes, and leaving Nador. Instead we grabbed lots of water (we are trying to change from bottled water to our own filtered water) and a run-away sandwich (bread without anything in it because we had to run away).

Lunch: Lots of liquids, cookies as usual. Corinne and andrEa emptied a jam jar by dipping their cookies into it. "Jamjar&Cookies" is one method for cheering up our exhausted selves, although they cannot compensate for a lack of "Grains&Muesli" or other foods which supply long-term energy and can be quite difficult to find along any north Moroccan street.

Dinner: Salads, salads, salads, plus the ubiquitous hamburgers and shish kebabs, two plates of bland chickpeas for the vegetarians, our beloved orange Crush, and water ("Quatres grandes bouteilles d'eau minérale sans gaz, s'îl vous plait!").

Food of the Day: "La Vache Qui Rit" cheese

andrEa and Corinne are very lucky when they can find non-meat things to eat. One cheese substance they've grown to love is "La Vache Qui Rit" or "The Laughing Cow" cheese click to view a photograph, seen here enjoying a swim in the Mediterranean Sea click to view a photograph!

Person of the Day: "Martians" click to view a photograph

The Martians who visited us can be seen landing on Corinne's helmet in this picture. click to view a photograph We're not sure if her helmet attracted them, or if she was just in the wrong (or right) place at the wrong (or right) time. There is still some question as to what they wanted to communicate or whether she was abducted . . .

Place of the Day: Madigh (or Madarh) region

The Madigh (or Madarh) region is the area between Saidïa (to the north), Berkane (to the south), the Algerian border (to the east), and the Kebdana Mountains (to the west). click to view a map Usually we are thankful for directions from the locals since our maps don't always show all of the small side roads, especially those in the Madigh. Unfortunately, this time the local assistance given to Corinne and andrEa sent them in the wrong direction (although it did allow for some nice sightseeing). In the end they biked the same distance as Anthony, Padraic and Ethan, but finished the day in Saidïa only with the help of a spaceship and some invisible Martians (see the Person of the Day abduction), actually, a taxi. Anything goes!

Group Dispatch, October 9

picture of andrEa In our bike saddles again, experiencing the magic of cycle touring with all its joys, aches, and limits, we pedaled straight south out of Nador, took the first left turn, and followed the only road leading eastward. This secondary road ran parallel to the Mediterranean coast, which we had hoped meant it would be AT sea level. Boy were we wrong! Before we knew it, we were faced with some dangerously winding and hilly roads.

The temperature increased with the rising sun, and reality became a delirious (and in this heat dangerous!) mirage. The only living things in the dry desert-like terrain we crossed for 35 km (22 mi) were our crazy bikers' legs, a few animals, cactus, and some little stone piles (which sometimes seemed to be living — or maybe it was part of the mirage). In some places, it even looked as if we were climbing through a Moroccan Grand Canyon, only the terrain was in miniature and we had grown to the size of giants. With the foothills of the Beni-Snassen Mountains click to view a photograph following on our right, the landscape was mostly a dark red clay that seemed to lose its color as the sun crept across the sky. The Mediterranean Sea was our companion on the left — such a deep, dark blue.

Here's an important note regarding our concerns about the heat: The distances we have to cover each day have not allowed us to follow the (very smart) local practice of taking a break at noon. The heat makes any activity at midday less than sane, which might suggest that BikeAbout biking is, well, you get the idea . . . And, given the fact that the days are getting shorter, and our short breaks were reserved for the rare shadows cast by the rare vegetation in this area, we should kiss our feet 'n' wheels for getting us to places where we can type dispatches at all!

By noon, having crossed many dry washes, we realized that our drinking water was disappearing, unlike the remaining distance. The boys were somewhere ahead and out of sight, so andrEa and Corinne stopped under some crippled bushes for a break. Oh shadow! We must have looked like little Moses in the basket, lying on a bed of bamboo. click to view a photograph Above, the blue sky click to view a photograph and the natural sound of leaves whispered us into lala-nap-land (where you are welcomed with fresh grapes and a five-hour long massage). Not long after that, a spaceship landed and beamed our heroines away (see the Person of the Day) click to view a photograph into an everlasting sunset. click to view a photograph

But, since back in reality, it isn't wise to bike on unlit streets when you're still not sure of the path to your destination, Corinne and andrEa took a taxi the remaining distance to meet the boys in Saidïa, a town less than a kilometer away from the Algerian border. Although Corinne and andrEa didn't know at which hotel the guys were staying, the taxi driver asked at a sandwich shop, and all the locals knew where the other BikeAbouters could be found!

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