08 October 2013

10 October - Morocco Adventure Travel

I thought I had adventures in eastern and southern Europe, especially with the drivers who have little or no respect for motorcycles, but Morocco is a different world.
Take a recent day:
1. Had little to no traction at one point.
2. Was cheated twice at one gas stop.
3. Had someone try to pick my front jacket pocket while talking to me.
4. Spent almost two hours riding around and asking in the horrendous traffic of Casablanca trying to find a hotel that did not cost an arm and a leg.
5. I finally gave in to stay at a terrible hotel that would not give me a working AC nor TV control. It also cost twice as much as three other hotels that I had stayed in other cities in Morocco.
1. above was due to diesel fuel spilled on the roadway. Fortunately, I had read about the risk of thinking that what may appear to be wet pavement, could actually be diesel and it is VERY slippery. If I had not read the notice, I probably would have crashed. I was also lucky that I was going straight when I hit the lane with it because if I had been turning, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have gone down.
2. above was partly my own fault. The gas station attendant refused to gave me all my change after filling my tank. It was only part of a Dirham, but I should have stopped him at a whole number of liters. When I went inside to buy some fluids for dryness, I paid way too much. I should have asked the price before paying, but I was too thirsty to think.
3. above was when I was at the Mauritanian embassy to get a visa. I was invited to share some couscous for lunch with guy collecting from people parking on the street. I did not lunch with him because it was with meat, but when I returned to get my visa, he spent some time asking me several questions and trying to get me to pay for parking, which I did not do. He got very close to me while I was on the bike and at one point actually had his hand in my top jacket pocket where he had seen me put me money.
4. above was very stressful in the crazy Casablanca traffic. Actually, traffic on the roads in general is quite different. It reminds me of living in Saudi Arabia many years ago because drivers do NOT stay in one lane. It is common here to straddle  lanes. At one point in the city, I was stopped at a light with six cars across ... but only three lanes marked on the pavement. It is unnerving to have a car pass you while they are in your lane and do not feel compelled to change to the next lane to go around you.
5. above was the Hotel Casablanca. While I am very used to staying in cheap places, but this was not cheap and the room was very small on top of it. The only good thing about the hotel was a parking garage that was included in the room price, but the attendant tried to get more money when I left the next morning.
Two pieces of good news. One is that I have had my GPS replaced in Casablanca. The second is that I am very proud of my son Jerry who just finished his doctorate, something I never did.
I am in Marrakech now and will leave tomorrow for the coast; then on to Mauritania.