Thursday: Beach Camp to Oualidia. - Sights Set On Morocco (Under A Hot Sun) - CycleBlaze

September 25, 2014

Thursday: Beach Camp to Oualidia.

Waking up this morning was like been on the inside of a cranked up loud seashell. Looking out I see the crashing waves and rolling surf on the beach. Each time the tide rolls in over rocks a few hundred metres off to right there's a crescendo of spray high in the air.

I cycle back towards town on hard packed sand track along the rubbish strewn bottoms of sand dunes. I meet two runners and along the deserted promenade pass two French speaking tourists. A quiet place with not much happening.

I retrace the street in from the shore to the highway where yesterday evening I saw a good café at the roundabout entrance to town. There I have a omelette breakfast. Local men sit around tables drinking coffee and smoking in boisterous converse and one, a business type is reading a local broadsheet.

Then a big tour bus exits the roundabout and in a hiss of air halts at the curb and out spill a busload of middleaged French speaking tourists. All in fresh clean on that morning shorts and tee-shirts. Some with big cameras resting on their chests. Three gather round and scrutinize my bike.

I'm riding north shortly after nine. The tarmac is old, cracked and cratered with the front-wheel getting a regular jarring killing momentum. Making it slow going most of the morning.

Toward noon the road hugs the coast and sweeps down to Safi with smoking smokestacks of a huge industrial plant on the way in. I remember this road from photos in another journal here. Then there's the stench of rotting fish from numerous fish proceeding plants.

I straightaway remember Oanh Tran & Nic Geard's journal entry for the day they rode out of Safi
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There is a diversion onward left along a narrow seafront street with more fish factories. At the gates of one there's an angry mob of scarfed women workers arguing with two men. Looks like they've down tools and gone on strike.

I ride through the usual ramshackled street market area of town looking for the way back onto the highway. There's a steep incline to a tee with a wide road at the top where I turn left and shortly the road spirrels back down into a gully followed by a steep switchback climb up through narrow streets towards some kind of old coastal defence fortress. Eventually to an intersection with a wide avenue which can only be the main south-north highway, but there are no signs on for Casablanca and I'm unsure whether to turn right or left, such is the amount of change of direction and up and down I've done that I've lost my sense of direction. The sun is over to the right so presumably left is north.

There's a good coffee-bar on the left corner on the other side, so when the traffic-lights change I sidle cross to it and use their Wi-Fi for half an hour before returning to a takeaway pizza place a door down the hill I came up. Such a relieve to have found this place and not to be eating chicken, lamb or any other tagine today. I sit at a table outside eating a nice freshly baked margarita and together with coke, lunch costs thirty-five dirhams. What a difference to yesterday's unprofessionalism.

Afternoon progress is sapped somewhat by moderate headwind coming off the ocean. Nothing too tough, just slow going. There are dry stonewalls enclosed fields on this stretch. The land looks to be recently cleared, stones lifted and built into walls as the stone still is oxide earth colour, unlike centuries old walls grey and be-lichened.

A young man on a scooter with his scarfed wife on the back accompanies me for a little. Speaking perfect English he translates what I tell him about my cycle-tour to the small woman on the back sitting low and looking in on the human pedalling machine in motion. Before riding on he tells me he has walked around Morocco, something hard to fathom.

The afternoon continues pleasantly scenic.
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I reach Oualidia as the sun is sinking toward the ocean and in the main street pass an optimistic looking hotel. I'm for riding on and finding somewhere to camp beyond town, but then think I'll return and ask how much it is for a room. I really need a shower in any case. The manager quotas 150 dirhams, so I'm in. Downstairs there's a café where most of the other guests are young westerners and I supper on Moroccan salad.

Today's ride: 109 km (68 miles)
Total: 6,445 km (4,002 miles)

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