20 May Mood changes, wild camping, and meeting old friends
Day 68 & 69 (16 /17 May 2013) – We woke up early and were eager to get out of this unpleasant room and this trashy town. We wanted to get back out into the clean countryside to take a break in a field, cook some coffee, and eat breakfast. We are in such a hurry to get out of town, that we do not even notice the signs and side streets on our way. After finding a spot and filling our bellies, we continue on for a few miles. Eventually we notice that our route and our map are not syncing well together. Grudgingly, we had to return to the unpleasant town to find the right road toward Meknes.
The right road takes us along more farm fields, but we also encounter more rolling hills and some woodland.
We feel a little down today… We are tired and worn out, the wind is beating on us again today and Morocco can be like an assault on all the senses at times. For some reason we feel like we are not getting the hang of the wild camping right in Morocco. At times we feel like many people in the cities want to hustle us or look at us as money bags, and after paying way too much at a dump last night, we feel like we have been taken advantage off. On the other hand, we look at all the very welcoming people along the countryside, the drivers have been very courteous toward us, and we had plenty of very pleasant encounters with farmers, small restaurant owners, the man at the taxi stand, and all kinds of people along our way, and some of the sights have been amazing.
As we ponder our situation, we vow to keep going and try to bring our spirits up. On the other hand we promise ourselves not to spend another night at a place like last night, but rather just try to sleep somewhere out in the country. After all, nobody seemed to care when we were taking up the entire taxi/bus stand. Apparently most anybody just hangs out in some field around the countryside anyway, and as long as we do not harm any crops we should be all right.
Our mood slowly lightens back up as we continue on our way.
We have another huge lunch in another small town and start looking for a spot to sleep earlier today.
While checking out, what we thought was a suitable place to stake our tent, a few cows appear up the hill and with them a farmer and his wife. He waves Ron over to say hello and has Ron check out his favorite cow. Then he waves me over, shakes my hand, and shows me how to milk the cow. It looks like an easy task; however, my untrained hands are not able to produce a drop of milk. The farmer waves his wife over to try and teach me better. After the typical greeting of 3 kisses on the cheeks, she shows me again…I try several times, the utter feels rough, I squeeze and pull and squeeze some more… and to the amusement of both farmers, nothing happens!
After we all have a good laugh, we wish each other good luck and say our good byes.
These are the moments we like the most along our travels. Making good connections with people and trying to learn new things.
As the farmers walk their cows back home along the road, we decide to go to the other side of the street, where there was some hidden spot to eat our dinner and eventually to set up camp.
Finally…we feel at home again, sleeping comfortably in our tent tonight out in the wild!! And we sleep well!!
As the sun lights up and warms up the inside of our tent, we still do not feel like getting up. It is so comfortable and cozy in here—evidently, we really missed our tent. Yet, it is getting late and we want to get to Meknes early to find a cheap, nice place to stay so we can check out the town in peace. As we crawl out of our home, we notice the farmer and his wife leading their cows our way. Apparently the two are out in the fields from sunrise to sunset to ensure their cows get the best grazing all day. Afraid the cows might walk into our tent, we quickly tear it down, roll it up, and put it away. We cook some coffee, and since the farmer is just a few feet away from us, we share some of our cookies with him and his wife.
The ride into the city is short, but since Meknes is located on the foothills of the Middle Atlas the way into town is a few miles of steady uphill.
We are pleasantly surprised to see very little garbage along the entrance to the city; on the same note, nobody seems to want to be our guide around here either. Grown ups and children simply notice us and give us the common ‘Bon jour Monsieur and Madame” greeting, wave, and pretty much leave us alone. Some kids hang onto the back of a dump-truck to hitch a ride up to the city. Everybody seems pretty laid back, happy, and nobody tries to hustle us or even notices us as a form of tourist. We like this town already!
We looked up some places to stay in our guide book before hand, but had no clue where to find them, so we ask a police officer who gives us some directions.
After riding around for a while, we find the hotel. The nice hotel clerk checks us into our clean, cozy room and as we put our bikes up securely into the hotel’s cellar, we notice a familiar looking bike and a trailer stashed away. Apparently Erik, the Dutchman from Spain has checked into the same hotel earlier today…What are the odds!!?? We never thought it would have been possible to meet up with him again after him leaving almost a week earlier than us from Ronda, and taking a whole different route over the Riff Mountains into Morocco!!! Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways.
After a nice warm shower, we meet up with Erik. Together we go grab a bite to eat and hang out at one of the few Moroccan bars where we actually can have beer and where women do not feel odd joining men.
It’s great chatting with him about our different experiences so far, and to just hang out and not feel out of place for a change.