Essaouira – Chichaoua…106 windy km

Day 3
‘The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page.’ – St Augustine
I ended up having a day off in Essaouira, which was definitely worth it! An awesome old walled medina, which at least does its job of keeping the invading sea at bay. I took a walk up to the walls and tower (where I’ve been told Game of Thrones is filmed?) and the sea was smashing over the 30 odd foot walls, and this was a pretty normal day.
Essaouira's Old Walls

Essaouira’s Old Walls

Seagulls fighting over the fish cleaners scraps.

Seagulls fighting over the fish cleaners scraps.

Tagine for lunch, and then just happened to stroll by a little hammam, and got ushered in. The guy that ‘massaged’ me didn’t speak a word of English or French. He was an old fat guy, who gestured to lie down in the sauna, I waited for about 15 mins before he came back and scrubbed the hell out of my with what felt like a brillo pad, and then basically beat me up! At one point I was face down, he was pulling my arms straight back and stamping on my back! It was pretty nuts, but at least I got my back cracked! It was definitely worth it, if only to save weight on the bike by removing a ton of skin. I spent about an hour in there, which is about 45 minutes longer than my previous best in a sauna, and was desperate for a drink.  I don’t mean to keep talking about the food, and will stop soon, but for dinner I had a pastilla, which I can only describe as a lasagne with the pasta substituted for fillo pastry, and the sauce was made of mince pie filling and chicken, all covered in icing sugar, cinnamon and toffee sauce!!??
Pastilla

Pastilla

Day 4
‘A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.’ Tim Cahill
I left Essaouira around 8am, and started making my way up the hills inland. The wind was already blowing and straight into my face, I hoped as the land warmed up it may spin and be behind me in the early afternoon, no such luck, it held strong all day, and really slowed my pace down again. The wind has got me thinking about my route already, because I plan to be in front of a Sky TV in southern Spain for the Wales v England match on the 15th! (Oh dear, that match is on the 9th. the editor)

Above Essaouira

Above Essaouira

KEBABS

KEBABS

(Food again) For lunch I jumped behind a wall in some farm land, relaxed for 45 mins, and ate two kebabs I’d accidentally bought last night (after the pastilla incident I wanted a snack and tried to order three small kebab skewers… what came was three fully made beef wraps).

After struggling into the wind for a further 3hours I stopped at a roadside cafe for some mint tea, the car park was full as the Gendarmes had stationed themselves just outside with a speed camera and were pulling cars over, maybe in cahoots with the cafe owner to increase business?
I got speaking with the cafe owner, in very broken French as it was his second language and I’m just plain shit at it. He told me his friend from Toulouse lived next door in a nice house and that I should go and have a look.  Gilbert looked like a retired santa, and was working on the roof with a Moroccan labourer when we visited, he asked the cafe owner (whose name I’d already forgotten) if I was Dutch, ‘Gallois’ I told him, and he frowned and shouted a few words, the last of which was ‘rugby’ and then he started laughing. (Wales thrashed France last week, and delighted in telling Gilbert that I was there!). He climbed down from the roof and ordered his helper to get me the beer that I didn’t really want but would still drink out of politeness! The beer was lovely, but I was well aware that I was relaxing in the sun, drinking, talking about rugby, when I should be making my final 20km towards Chichoua before sunset. Gilbert insisted that I stay there for the night (by this time we were watching a geology programme about a volcanic part of Ethiopia on French TV), I told him that with the wind the way it was, staying there would leave too long a ride tomorrow. There was nowhere within reach to stay, but Gilbert had told me I’d be fine wild camping, as long as I got off the road a few hundred meters.
Moi, Gilbert et Mr Propriétaire d'Cafe

Moi, Gilbert et Mr Propriétaire d’Cafe

My plan was to get to Chichoua, eat, and then ride on through and find somewhere to wild camp. After yet another tagine at a roadside cafe, I stuffed the remaining bread into my bar bag, and started my search for ‘accommodation’. At the roundabout at the end of town, just on the off chance that Gilbert was wrong, I asked the policeman if he knew of anywhere… ‘2km down the Agadir road, theres a motel’, BOOM, and for £7 a night, its pretty swanky! Plus, the wifi means I can write this unexpected post!
Good night,
Seb
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