Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I had been nurturing my cold/bird flu/eccentricities/hypochondria for long enough, and I felt significantly better on Saturday, and so I went for a bike ride. I hadn't been riding since before the Fulbright Morocco conference! (It's possible that I took the Surly out for some errands, but nothing memorable.)

Being a creature of habit, I took the shore road that goes southwest from the medina. I couldn't go directly north (water), and didn't want to go east (water and the bridge to Salé, and I'd rather not have to bike through more city), or south (downtown, the highway to Fez.)
The past couple of times that I'd ridden, I'd only gone about as far as Temara (maybe ten miles out of town?)

On Saturday, I was fifteen kilometers from Mohammedia when I turned around! I rode for five hours! That ride alone was enough justification for having brought the frame from Esseff to Spain, and then the built-up bike from Spain to here.

There were elements of the ride that reminded me of every single one of the environments that I have inhabited on two wheels: I was riding on a coast, but the topography was flatter, and much more like the Jersey coast than the California (and yet I was on a west, and not an east, coast.) The dirt was supersaturated ochre, and at some point, when I was off-roading (see below), I had flashbacks of the quality of the clay in Georgia. The cow smell reminded me of Vermont and the hills around Middlebury, where I took my first rides that were farther than just a noodly commute.

The road that I took was, for the most part, straightforward: I wanted to go along the water, and up through Temara the coast road is right by the beach. After Temara is Skhirat (where I have a couscous invitation for this next week from a lady with a fruit and vegetable stand), and at some point there, I decided that instead of taking the road that looked busier and went a tiny bit inland, I would take the road that went by the beach. So I took it, and there were sheep lazing about in the middle of the road, and by the beach, and a kite that had just finished being flown. That detour was pretty short, and maybe half a kilometer later it spat me right back on a continuation of the road that I'd taken.

Later, though, I decided to take anouther detour (again, by the beach), and ended up taking a road that got narrower and narrower, and then was unpaved, and then became a cowpath in the middle of a field. I could see traffic on the main road in the distance, and figured that it wouldn't be too difficult to get there, even though the undergrowth was really high. The cowpath split into two, though. Luckily, a man happened to be standing on the left fork, about ten meters from the split. So I asked him for directions and, a few off-road minutes later, I ended up back on the main road.

I then crossed the Oued Bouzniqa (a river), and was then at the Casbah Bouzniqa, where there was a large tent set up across the street from a smaller-scale replica of the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. There was singing coming out of the tent. I asked a woman, who was seated next to a standing dwarf, what the singing was about. She answered that it had to do with the prophet's birthday, which was upcoming. A tailless cat cavorted in the street, and then I was off to continue my ride south, but not before another dwarf, seated, motioned for me to go over to where he was (right next to the road), and shook my hand.

I rode for a few more kilometers and turned around at the right moment: when I rode back through the medina walls of Rabat, they were glowing and golden.


Blogger Zora said...

Why does every story about backroads Morocco seem to involve a dwarf at some point? ngue

12:17 PM  
Blogger AV said...


9:10 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

stories involving dwarves in backroads Morocco?

3:32 PM  
Blogger Zora said...

Uh, typo. The 'ngue' part, not the dwarves.

And if it's not a dwarf, it's an albino. Just ask Adrienne.

11:37 AM  
Blogger AV said...

I _will_ ask Adrienne.

1:52 PM  
Blogger AV said...

Except she doesn't seem to have a blog anymore, and I don't have her email address. Can you ask her?

2:06 PM  

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