Today has been fantastic however it is now 8:30 pm and I am sitting in a room that has air conditioning that is so completely pathetic that it only seems able to reduce the temperature to 41 degrees. I just know I’m not going to be sleeping tonight!
I left Ouarzazate this morning at about 9:30. It was a hard start, I had absolutely no energy and had to get dressed up in all my motorbike parafanalia and lug my heavy tank bag, my bulging Ortlieb bag, my crash helmet and 2 litre bottles of water from the third floor to reception, then to the secure parking about 300 metres away. By the time I got to my bike I wasn’t feeling so bright. I loaded everything onto the bike and rode about 100 metres to the petrol station to fill up. By the time I actually got underway I was shaking like a raw sausage and not feeling great at all. Once I actually got going and got some air around the old jacket I started feeling better.
It’s funny, I wear all the motorbike gear to protect me in case of a crash but the bigger risk out here it probably from over heating because of all the gear.
Anyway, I got onto the N9 and started the first step of my journey to Zagora. By 10 O’Clock the heat was once again pressing down on me but I seemed able to cope with it today, perhaps I’m starting to get used to it now. The Dra Valley has beautiful parts but most of it is how I would imagine Mars to be. There are lots of signs warning you to be careful of the river going over the road but at this time of year there are no rivers. The road seemed to stretch on forever and is the only break in the vast masses of nothing. There were parts today however that reminded me of the Grand Canyon in Colorado. I took some photographs and video (when it worked) today. I hope they’re okay.
I stopped in a small town called Tinzoulin for a coffee and some water. I found out that most of the places that sell cold water also sell it frozen. I now buy one bottle of cold water and one bottle of frozen water. By the time I’ve finished the cold bottle the frozen one has thawed.
I turned up in Zagora and stopped by one of those signs that rotate from time, to date, to temperature. By the time I got there the temperature was reading 48 degrees. I was immediately joined by a chap on a moped who introduced himself as a good machanic. He said he had a garage around the corner and that I could join him and his brothers for a drink. I’m always sceptical about such offers but he said Honda Transalp XL650. He then told me that it’s big brother, The Africa Twin is a great bike with the exception of the regulator which brakes often. Having read about that before I left I instantly knew he was knowledgable on the machanics of my bike and knew what he was talking about. I followed him for about a kilometre to his garage. His Garage was called Sahara Zagora Garage and he specialises in preperation work for the Paris Dakar for all kinds of vehicles including some big team names. He got his photo album out and showed me all the cars, bike and huge trucks he had prepared and fixed over the years. He also knew Patsy Quick from Heathfield. He told me that she had nearly broken her back in the Paris Dakar. I got my camera out and took some photographs, then I got my video camera and and we all had a good laugh. Unfortunately I cannot upload the video from here so you will have to wait until I get home. I asked about the Garage and they said they have this garage and another in Senegal. They also said they have a shop called the Sahara Boutique but it was closed. I sais it was a shame as I wanted to buy a present for my wife. Needless to say we then rode there and they opened it for me. I bought a nice present for my wife after the mandatory haggling.
When it was time to leave they asked where I was going, I told them Mhamid and was told that it was 10 degrees hotter than Zagora in Mhamid and that I should wait until about 8 before setting off but me being me decided against it. One of the brothers had planned to go to Mhamid today to see his sister but his sister told him it was 56 degrees so he stayed in Zagora. I asked for their number in case I needed some assistance with the bike and they stuck a stricker on one of my panniers. It’s very good to know that should I have any problems with the bike that I have the number of a very knowledgable machanic.
I set off from Zagora and within 5 miles was in the most barren, rocky desert I could imagine. The roads were getting very narrow by this point and were mostly covered in drifting sand and when something came the other way one of us had to jump off the road to pass but this was not a problem. About half way to Mhamid I saw a stopped Renault car with it’s bonnet up and was waived down. The last time I stopped I got a hard sell but this looked different. I stopped and was told that they needed water for the car. I had 7 litres of water and a working vehicle so I gave them 5 litres, made sure they were okay and left, they were very thankful. Apparently they had been there for 3 hours waiting for someone to stop. 3 hours in what must have been 55 degrees must have been hell.
So there I was happily riding towards Mhamid when I saw a load (herd?) of camels crossing the road up ahead and decided to get a video. I switched the video camera to record and put it in my lap. When I got closer I grabbed the camera and pointed it at the camels. Unfortunately the thing was bloody hot and turned itself off. Another good reason for not taking it in future.
I rode through a number of small towns on the way to Mhamid. One of them was called Tagounite. I rode towards their big pillars and noticed that is was very windy. Sand and rubbish was blowing everywhere. I rode into it at about 15 mph and promptly came off. I didn’t realise but it wasn’t just windy, it was another one of those sand tempest things. I picked myself up, cleared the sand from my eyes and looked at the bike, at this point people were running towards me and managed to get the bike upright again. I checked the bike over but it was fine, just a few new scratches. I was told not to go into the wind when it was round. Makes complete sense to me!
I rode through the town and out the other side when I saw another one. This time I stopped the bike and grabbed my camera and video hoping it was going to work this time. I got some photographs and some really good video but will have to upload the video when I get back to England. I rode to Mhamid.
When I reached Mhamid it was a bit of a non event. The road just turns to sand and that’s it. I was joined by some kids who wanted me to swap my bike for a camel. I asked how long it would take for me to ride a camel to England and they smiled. No deal. Mhamid is a bit of a dive of a town with no open decent accomodation as far as I could see.
I found somewhere to stay but so far it’s been complete hell. First of all the owner was not there so I had to deal with a young chap who not only did not speak any English at all but also didn’t understand my french or drawing or actions. We spent about half an hour trying to get in touch with the owner who speaks English and finally he turned up. Out of season he said. No food. Okay, I thought, my body can live on it’s fat reserves for one day. No problem I said. I could see the big box and fan outside so I said air conditioning. Yes, he said so I took the room. It’s a basic affair with a straw roof and mud walls and cost 200 Dirhams. I think I was over charged but hey ho, it was worth it for just the air conditioning alone (so I thought at the time).
I’ve now been here for 2 hours and so far the air conditioning has managed to get the temperature in the room from a heady 63 degrees C down to 36 (temperature readout on the AC unit) and a HUGE, and I do mean HUGE, scorpion has dropped from the ceiling onto the floor about 6 inches from my foot with a big crack/thud. FUCKING HELL!! If I’d have had anything inside me to shit out I would have done it at that point! I went and got the owner and said scorpion, not good. He grabbed his boy and dog (which is very friendly and lovely by the way) and came to my room. They looked at it for a while, made lots of ooohh noises and then the young chap took off his flipflop. I asked if they could just take it away. The owner said I could try to move it if I wanted to but it was not a good idea so I left them to their own devices. There was a whack and then it was dead. I was then brave enough to take a photograph. They kept their dog away until the sting had been cut off then the dog ate it. Disgusting! Since then I have discovered that the toilet works but the taps and shower are so pathetic that was would take about half an hour to fill the sink. Even I am finding my smell offensive so I really must stink!
Now I’m sitting here about to finish my blog thinking that another bloody scorpion could fall on my face in the night. Riding out here at night is not a good idea so I’m stuck with it. I’ve got a feeling I’m not going to have the best nights sleep. Tomorrow I will be going back to Ouarzazate and will be booking myself into the poshest hotel I can find!
Anyway, it’s now time for me to check the room completely for creepy crawlies and try to go to bed.. This was a terrible mistake.
I’m back, it’s now 12:30 in the morning and the temperature is still 35 and I’m knackered but can’t sleep. Theres something in my room that’s making a clicking noise and the bloody thing is moving around so I know it’s an insect of one kind or another. I went outside and brushed past a plant that stung me and I just can’t wait for the sun to come up so I can escape this place. How can it be so hot in the middle on the night! How can time go so slowly? The clicking noise has now been joined by a loud moaning sound outside. I thought it was a person at first so went outside with my head torch and knife but there was no one there luckily. Must be some kind of animal, it’s doesn’t sound good. I have tried doing a video to see if I can record the noise but the recorder will not start. The temperature readout on the AC unit is now reading 34. My plan is to wait until it starts getting light and leave. I’ll hopefully be back in Ouarzazate by noon.
Amazingly, I got on the bed, closed my eyes and the next thing I knew it was 7am.