Asilah, Morocco - Polarsteps
Day 3, Kini's tuning up bike things in the morning, and we mill around chatting with the van campers, then roll out mid-day. We make good time on the main road out of town-- still doing great in heavy traffic here. We hit the west coast and follow the beaches south. At one point we pull over in the parking lot of a quiet tourist complex to drink from our water bottles, and Said, the guardian, comes over with a big smile and chats in French a bit, then invites us in for tea. We say yes, and follow him into a little concrete room, open at one end, where five of his friends are hanging out; we're introduced to all of them, but my French and Said's French is our only shared language, so we talk and his friends talk and laugh in Arabic while we wait for tea to boil on a propane burner, and then we all drink it out of little glasses, and it's sweet and strong and good-- they jokingly call it 'Moroccan whiskey', and it's not the last time we hear this. Said takes us on a little tour around the property, which also has cows and a view down to the beach. He wonders if either of us is married, and expresses some disbelief that we aren't and never have been. He's a bit taken aback when I ask him the same question; of course he's married, and has two little girls.
We say our shukrans and au revoirs and ride down to Asilah, where there's another campground on the beach-- the elderly man who runs it checks us in through the window into his kitchen where he's dicing onions, and he's so stoked on our bike situation. While we're setting up, the owner of the restaurant across the road comes and talks with us-- he's making the rounds to try to pull in customers for the evening. We decide to bite; it's easy, and everything is cheap here, even when by Moroccan standards it isn't. We walk a bit towards town first to find toilet paper (not provided at the campgrounds or sometimes, we've heard, even at the hotels) and some rounds of bread at a bakery. At the convenience store that sells us the TP, the young guy behind the counter asks us where we're from, then asks us something we don't understand about Canada, and when we're confused he spends a minute on his phone and then turns it around and shows us a page of images of snow.
We're one of three tables at the restaurant, there's no menu, and Assiz simply comes by and asks what we'd like to eat. We ask if he can make us something vegetarian; he brings us big fresh salads, spiced olives and fresh Moroccan bread, and vegetable tagine. We didn't eat at restaurants while we were crossing Canada; it's an unreal treat, now, to finish a cycling day and sit down and have new, beautifully spiced food come to us. In the dark outside, horses pull these ornate, pink, tassled carriages down the street; they're full of Moroccan tourists taking selfies. After dinner, Assiz sits at the table next to ours and talks with us about Canada and about our trip. He really doesn't want us to go to the mountains; I'm not going to get into this, and the safety piece, right now, while we're still on our way into the heart of this country; I have more to say about it later. Suffice it to say, we're aware and informed about what we're doing here, and we've given a good deal of consideration to how we're doing it. Our experience so far is that everywhere there are people here, there are people looking out for us.
🚲 Bike Jaunt 🚲