Waking in the desert plains with mountains to our right and behind us, we look ahead to a flat road stretching as far as the eye can see, nothing of note but small trees and goats climbing and eating them. So, we set out at a blistering pace (for our bikes and luggage that’s maybe 18kph) heading to towards the coast, in particular, Agadir.
We push on to the nearest town with lunch on the mind – we’re pretty hungry today – bound for the town of Taroudannt. Rolling into the town after a good stretch of the legs we’re keen to settle into some shade, an ice cold coke and a tagine of some kind. The town however, is a sprawling mass of streets, side streets and alleyways cramped inside a fortress. We get hopelessly lost pretty early on.
The danger in appearing hesitant upon arrival to a town is that you become a target. An easy target. An easy target for someone to sell you a rug. Unthinking we follow a friendly chap on his moped through the busy streets to the main square where we hope to feast on tagine and kebab and bread. Our new friend however has another plan, ‘come’an have a butchers’ he says happily. How can we refuse the Moroccan Frank Butcher?
Off we go into a rug emporium of the highest order; ‘take a seat, have some tea, my wife makes the best tagine… ‘ the offers are endless, as is the history lesson of the Berber art of rug making: this pattern is made in the desert using camel hair, this rug has this pattern which gives the rug its magic flying powers…’ the mans’ voice, deeper than any man I’ve ever met, is almost hypnotic in its’ rhythm, and doggedly persistent. We have to eat. We make our excuses, declining to buy a rug just now since we’re CYCLING and a 10m rug might not be the most practical gift idea.
Back on the bikes the day is long and hot and confused. We take more than a couple of wrong turns and roads that should exist appear to have disappeared, frustrating to say the least, especially in the heat. It’s nearly 40 degrees. We’re also surrounded by farming so there’s little in the way of camping available to us, we stop for a coffee in a town, pick up some street food and make a decision left, right or straight ahead. We turn right. We get lost. And there’s nowhere to camp. That’s when we meet Arhmed. ‘Come, stay my house’…