topics: daily life, women in society; jump to dispatch

BikeAbout Log


Rider Notes: October 5–6, 1997

Breakfast: Before a ride, we always try to fill up with carbohydrates, so bread and/or bananas are perfect. Some of us also need coffee in the mornings to wake up fully.

Lunch: We were too busy riding to enjoy a full lunch, so both days we just stopped in a little café, ordered Crush (see our Food of the Day) and chewed on the bread and cookies we had bought earlier. Very filling.

Dinner: Since, in Kaceta, we ate at the only open "restaurant" in town (which also served as the garage for our bicycles — very cozy), we really had little choice as to our menu. The restaurant had eggs, grilled meats, some tomatoes, some onions, and bread. We had a little of all of these.

Food of the Day: Moroccan Crush

After a hot day in the saddle, nothing hits the spot quite like cold Moroccan Crush — an ultra-sweet, ultra-orange, carbonated soft drink. This isn't the same Crush we get back in America, but Morocco's own special formula. What sets it apart is its intense orangey sweetness. Of course, its real attraction is that it's one of the few drinks here that are always served cold. Look closely in the pictures and you might see someone with an orange mustache.

Person of the Day: Mr. Driss Bouzaâchane click to view a photograph

Mr. Driss Bouzaâchane, 29, is a graduate student in Economics at the graduate school of Law, Economics, and Social Sciences in Rabat, as well as being a member of numerous associations dealing with culture, the environment, and human rights. He is another of the three Moroccan graduate students (with Essaida and Soumia) traveling with us as part of our collaboration with the Moroccan group called AMED (Association Marocaine d'Exchanges Multidisciplinaires pour l'environment et le Dévelopment — The Moroccan Multidisciplinary Exchange Association for the Environment and Development). Driss is particularly interested in the importance of exchange between people in tackling the problems of society, including culture and the environment. Driss has been very helpful in setting up meetings with schools and organizations in the cities we have visited.

Place of the Day: Top of the mountain (10/5) / Dry cleaner (10/6)

About 45 km (28 mi) into our ride on Sunday the road began to slope uphill. It got steeper and steeper and kept going up. Nine switchbacks, ten kilometers, and 800 meters (2625 ft) in elevation gain later we reached the summit. Although it lacked a nice view (the top was in a cloud) and the wind began to get cold, we decided that we had suffered too much not to make this the place of the day. It wasn't even the highest mountain we've climbed this week, but we hope it's the toughest we face for a while.

On Monday, after twelve days on the road, only Anthony had any clean clothes (one shirt he had been hiding for a "special occasion"). Desperate, we set out to find a laundromat. We failed. But with some fast talking, we did manage to find a dry cleaning place just a block from our hotel that would throw everything into a washing machine for us. The catch? They charge per piece — our full bag of laundry for five people would have cost $40! When we realized this we handed over only our dirtiest pieces of laundry and took the rest back to the hotel to do by hand. Our hotel rooms are now a forest of dripping bicycle jerseys. click to view a photograph Despite this inconvenience, the idea of even a few clean clothes makes the dry cleaner our place of the day.

Group Dispatch, October 5–6

picture of Padraic On Sunday and Monday, we cycled a total of 157 km (97.5 mi) between Al Hoceima and Nador. Our friends in Al Hoceima warned us that we had to cross a huge mountain range to get to Nador, so we knew that we couldn't make the whole ride in one day. Instead, we decided to split it up so that we faced the climb at the end of the first day. After a hilly ride out of Al Hoceima in hot sunshine click to view a photograph, we made it to the foot of the mountain at about 2:30. The first 45 km (28 mi) had taken about four hours; the next 10 km (6 mi) would take a full two hours!

We had agreed beforehand to stop in the first town with a hotel after the hill. This turned out to be Kaceta. What we didn't know was that Kaceta was not much more than a muddy strip of basic shops and "cafés," and that its only hotel had no showers (and a bathroom that smelled . . . , well, that smelled really bad). We also soon realized that, like Ketama, it is another town without women. In the 13 hours we spent there, we saw no local women. None! Corinne dubbed Kaceta a "www" — not "World Wide Web" but "without water or women."

After an uncomfortable night in the hotel, we woke up early click to view a photograph and rode the remaining 97 km (60 mi) downhill to Nador. Once again, we were amazed by how quickly the landscape changed. The mountainous area around Kaceta soon gave way to a wide and extremely arid river valley with mountains only visible in the distance. We were also amazed at how quickly we finished the ride — it took less than five hours! There is little doubt that our desire to shower helped us pedal a little faster. And, as luck would have it, our hotel in Nador offered hot showers! With the added bonus of finding somewhere to clean our clothes (see our Place of the Day), Monday ended up as one of our favorite riding days yet.

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