topics: couscous (food), Rif Mountains; jump to dispatch

BikeAbout Log


Rider Notes: September 30, 1997

Breakfast: Because of our early start, we ate a quick breakfast of croissants and café au lait (coffee with warm milk), one of many traditions begun by the French when Morocco was one of its colonies.

Lunch: All the hills discouraged us from eating a large lunch so we had a roadside picnic of nut bread and cookies that we had purchased earlier.

Dinner: For dinner we had a traditional couscous (see the Food of the Day).

Food of the Day: Couscous with lamb

Couscous is a pasta-like dish made out of tiny dots of semolina and served with a soupy vegetable sauce — including onions, tomatoes, chickpeas, and grapes — and meat, if you want. While there are many ways to prepare couscous, the traditional way is to stew the vegetables and meat in a pan that narrows at its top. A funnel-like container that has many tiny holes is stuck on the top and filled with couscous (the actual little dots of semolina). The holes in the funnel allow the steam and the flavor of the stew below to heat and season the couscous, efficiently cooking both stew and couscous at the same time.

Person of the Day: Essaida Baddane click to view a photograph

Essaida Baddane is 28 years old with a degree in philosophy; she is currently a student and reasearcher at the University of Letters and Human Science in Rabat. While we are in Morocco, BikeAbout is traveling with three Moroccan graduate students: Essaida, Driss, and Soumia. They are all members of a 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). AMED is composed of students and professionals interested in the preservation of the environment through projects at both the local and national level. Essaida is of Berber descent (the Berbers are the oldest constant inhabitants of Morocco) and is very interested in seeing that BikeAbout and those that are following our journey have a truly representative image of what Morocco is like.

Place of the Day: Auberge de la Jeunesse

The Auberge de la Jeunesse is a sort of youth hostel/youth center, designed to accommodate groups of visiting students. Its director was kind enough to offer it to us as a place to stay while in Chefchaouen. The views from the auberge are amazing. We watched the sun set over the Rif Mountains click to view a photograph and gazed down into the valley until the stars came out.

Group Dispatch, September 30

picture of Anthony

Today we woke up early and left Tetouan at 8:30. We were a little concerned because everyone we asked had said that the ride was going to be difficult. They were right! By the time we arrived in Chefchaouen everyone had agreed that this was our toughest ride yet. We started the day by riding into and then along a river valley. Our difficulties begain when we headed up what seemed like an endless uphill. It was only 7 km long but it felt more like 20 km.

Once we reached the top we stopped in a little roadside hut for water and had a picnic lunch click to view a photograph of nut bread. The reward for the endless climb was a beautiful view of the Rif Mountains, and a glorious descent that took us to within 6 km of Chefchaouen. Unfortunately, it turned out our hill climbing had just begun. Founded in the 15th century as a fortress from which to attack Portuguese pirates on the coast, Chefchaouen is built on the side of a mountain, just below two high peaks (Chefchaouen means "under the two horns" in Berber dialect). The final 6 km of the ride was straight uphill! Oh well. Stunning scenery comes at a price. By the time we arrived at the top and climbed the extra kilometer up to the Auberge de la Jeunesse (see the Place of the Day, we were ready for a shower, a quick couscous (see the Food of the Day), and bed.

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