Day 198, 12995 km
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That is how I learned that I should say now when to greet people. People have been saying that to me for ages from the street without me knowing what to respond. But if I just say same thing back both parts are fine:) Well, basically all the people I meet scream for me so I really should have picked it up sooner, but ay…Better late then never said grandma and started skating:)
A lot of big natureviews in the photoalbum this week and that is not strange at all if you ask me. Morocko, and the Atlasmountains is just big and beauiful; combine that with my passion for looking out from the top and feel accomplishment of something big, something I have done all by myself.
The atlas has been awesome and are going to end soon and a new doow is opening, the desert.
We can it this post off when I hit the bus back to Rabat to finally get my visa to Mauretania. I arrived at lunchtime which was knowably too late to fix i that day. But I went there anyway to check what´s going on. SOmewhat how there were people in line so I just dug in, without even blinking. Let those elbows cut through a person or two, it´s fine:P..sort of..I needed the document to fill in so When at front at the little peephole I asked for it. “Tomorrow…” was the answer I got. Strange I thought, since all the other people around me had their papers filled in and were queing. A family I met (also cycling) thought I should turn my puppyeyes on and try again. This time a paper came flying out and landed on the floor, a bit strange but hey I got it:) The family also helped me fill it in since it was in french. Here also another very nice surprice came along..
Anton from Sweden came forward and introduced himself. A very nice guy from the middle/north of Sweden. He is also a touring cyclist with the aim of southafrica. I thought it was very nice not just to have someone to spend the hours in que with, but also talk some swedish:) Hopefully we will meet Anton again here on Airbourne.se. He is doing some safari in Senegal so we will try to meet up their when I am around. I hope you got your visa all well Anton, good luck:)
My document was now filled in with the hopes of a start at december 26th, that is when I plan to enter Mauretania. These hours of queing were filled with waiting and rejection; 2 times when we reached the litle peephole we were told to go last again due to our high ticketnumber. But finally I got my stamped passpor back, but with the startdate of the day after…
Totally wrong but not as surpiricing. It happens from time to time and the people behing the peephole don´t seem to care so much about it. Well, my options are o lenghten my visa in Noukachott, capital of Mauretania. That will cost me the double fee of what I paid for the original. OR, I could take a chance and go to Senegal border and smile at the guards. The later one actually works sometimes, but I have loads of time to think about how to decide.
Wow, paperwork isn´t as fun as cycling, Far from it! So I think we swing back to the touring instead. Me and Ashley (who is surpricingly in good shape so far) started to go south from Fez and reached the Atlas already the first day. The climb up to the plateu of 2000 metres ment a lot of colorchanging. All of a sudden the landscape was autumn and forests all around me. I said hello to a bunch om monkeys begging passing people for food, not at all affraid of getting run over. They enertained me for a while before I kept on going. The plateu up here was where I have spent the most of this week within 1700 and 2200 metres. The climate is warm during the days but cold on mornings, evenings and nights which makes me to stick to strict routines to make it work. The mornings are frosty and I often wake up during nights and have to make sit-ups/push-ups to stay warm. I also sleep with my gas container in the tent overnight to try minimize my gasconsumion when cooking. Thank good I have Primus Powergas, nohing else would have worked in his cold. I am sleeping with practically all clohes that I have and with a beanie over my face. In the mornning I change so I have cycling clothes underneath and then everything else on top. Then I start cycling and removing layer after layer until lunch, when it´s warm again. Here I throw everything, including tent and sleeping bag, on the ground o let it dry from sweat/frost and moist. Keeping i dry for the night after is a key to make it with out spending money on hotels. And as I now only have a couple more nights in this climate it has been going very well.
As said I have been between 1700-2200 metres this week. I pass the very small villages and buy food from foodstands, no real shops are around. I also buy bread 2 times per day, cost is about nothing here:) But when it is this cold I wish a shower was nearby and in those thoughts Hamid shows up on a mountainbike behind me.
Hamid is a local who works in the mine outside the town of Midelt. He explaines to me the everyday work there, how you work for yourself and as much as you want/can. Nowadays in winter, almost no one is working because of the cold, bu they stay there anyway since it is warmer then in their houses. He invites me to follow one night but as the mine is 25 km in wrong direction I declane, would hae been cool though! But my thoughts were on Hamam level…Hamam is the bath they do here in Morocco. You enter the changing room and put on either boardshorts, underwear, speedos or a pair of very highcut alternative. I choosed boardies. Then you enter the actual room with tile in walls and roof. There is the fountain with warmwater which you fill your bucket with. Then just find a spo on the floor and use a scoop to clean yourself. It is almost like a sauna in there and very nice! Pay a little extra and a hairy dude comes and massage/scrub you; I declined that too:P
After the bath I hang around little bit with Hamids friend from Belgium, Francoise before set off to my campspot outside town. Still the cheering, happy people everywhere sometimes with donkeys or horses. My favourite place so far was the area around Tizi-n-Tischka. That was the sum up before the long and windy road down to Marrakech.
Here was the plan to chill out and explore the stressy streets filled with salesmen. But stupid me let my wallet wander off so the day wene t kind of stressful instead on its own. But with he help of a morockan family with a little food, some money for internet and translation I now have money coming in tomorrow and a new visa card to pick up later on:) No worries, nothing can stop me:)
Thank you again everybody for ordering postcards from Airbourne! In Africa so far the wifi isn´t best friend with my phone so I am sorry you get them late. But I am working on it! A lot of people also wonder if I feel safe here in Africa and I am glad to answer that question. My whole purpose of visiting countreis in this and other “discussable” areas is to see it with my own eyes and create my own picture. The picture we get from media is far to seldom good news but when you read travel blogs, not just from other cyclists, you get a whole other idea. And I want to share my eyes with this blog on the road. But for Morocko so far people are very nice and love to chat with you, not in english though. Many people are begging for money and also children. Salesman get very angry when you don´t buy their stuff:P But Yes, I do feel safe here an do recommend it to anyone else!