Zagora, Morocco - Polarsteps
Out of Ouarzazate we climbed through rocky, mountainous desert landscapes, then did a winding 700 metre descent to the town of Agdz, the kind of downhill that cramps your hands from braking so much. We stayed at a couple of comfortable, quiet campgrounds along the way, and had the benefit of low traffic and a nicely paved bike lane (it's been tempting to find out which government body back home is responsible for Highway 17 in Ontario and send them some photos from this stretch of our trip; I wish I could say the national highway in our home country was half as up to date, well maintained, and safe as this road through the desert in southern Morocco).
It was a nice change of pace to get into some completely remote stretches where no one else was so much as grazing their goats in the landscape around us; we had some peaceful roadside lunches, and for once had an easy time finding places to pee at the side of the road, where no one was going to suddenly appear out of the bushes (this has been a challenge here). Getting closer to Zagora we started passing through towns again, and hit a few of them at the moment the kids were all getting out of school; hundreds of eyes on us as we passed down the road, lots and lots of hellos, pursuit by bicycle, high-fives, and-- this is a new and persistent one since we got onto a tourist circuit-- demands for money, pens, candy, and at one point our bicycles (the last one is clearly a stretch, but the rest are maybe a marker of how some other tourists have rolled through before; we're aware of the phenomenon of European retirees driving through African villages in general and playing Saunt Claus for the children there).
Conversely, for every kid who runs after us shouting, "un dirham, un stylo," there's an adorable toddler who blows us kisses as we ride by, and just as many who are curious. One of our campgrounds, in the middle of nowhere, was adjoined to a farm, and while we were waiting for our dinner to boil a group of four boys who lived on the farm came over, asked in English if they could ask us a few questions, and then proceeded to sweetly and thoughtfully interview us about our trip (when we said we were from Canada they responded, "Oh, Canada! That's a nice town").
We arrive in Zagora to shop owners trying to flag us down, and have to shake a motorcyclist who decides we need a guide to help us find our campground (we do not). The land is flat and hot; this is our southern desert stop before we head north and into the mountains again.
🚲 Bike Jaunt 🚲