I wake up and can’t stand it in my hotel room. It is so dingy, the water doesn’t run, the ensuite toilet looks like it has been clogged forever, and the public squat toilets are a mess. I take my painkiller and antidiaheral and ride on. I have arrhythmia as well, which means that if I exert myself I will pass out. I can manage it, I have come close enough times to know what to do, just get off the bike pronto and sit down.
I can’t eat anything, my stomach is in knots. I am nauseous. But I do have a tailwind and the road is level. So I make progress.
Mud brick villages are everywhere. This one is especially handsome.
Shy villages frightened by the mountains.
Shy village. My arrhythmia has passed.
You would think it is empty, but it is not. There are many people living out here. In fact, it’s hard to be alone. People are always on the side of the road. I must pass 50 sheepherders, dark brown kids and men with their heads boldly wrapped in colorful dirty turbans. They carry next to nothing, not even a book to red. But they are most likely illiterate. Children can attend school for free, but they must arrange for their own transportation and books, something way out of reach for these villagers.
I am sick and need to rest often. My legs, which usually feel like steel, have become vanilla pudding. There is nothing there. They burn with fatigue after a quarter mile.
Entering the Dades Gorge- to the left-
In the Dades Gorge.
But now there are climbs and I am cycling into the wind. I rest 5 times on one 1200 foot climb. I have one wish, and it seems so easy to me to grant. I want two 99 cent bean burritos from Taco Bell. Or maybe I should have three? Could I eat three? Should I have some Sprite with it? Maybe I’ll start with two and see how I feel….. I am lying on the ground beside the road resting. A taxi honks. Thumbs up, yes, I’m OK, just resting. He was going the wrong way anyway.
I get up and ride on, frustrated that such a simple thing as two bean burritos should be so hard.
Leaving the Dades gorge the Ziz river begins to support Date palm trees.
I think maybe some dates might be good so I stop and buy half a kilo. $2.50 for a pound and a half. It helps to get them at the source. See them being dried on the ground behind my right arm? I am obviously thinking about bean burritoes.
Half a dozen dates perk me up. But they are not two luscious hot bean Taco Bell burritos wrapped in a soft white tortilla.
I see what looks like an abandoned mud brick village right by the road and decide to rest and explore.
What was this used for?
Clean simple interior.
Tall walls close together to keep out the sun. What I wouldn’t give for a bean burrito right now.
Up on the roof. See the hole in the shadow?
Homemade hardware. These builders did so well with their indigenous materials.
I only explore one end of the building. As I leave, I notice this is at the other end and definitely occupied.
Does it look like there might be a Taco Bell here?
The first little Oasis that I spot.
Where the Valley Girls live. Our lives are so different materially.
I do make it to Er Rachida, totally unwell and beyond empty. My chosen hotel has no availability. I discard two cheap drab hotels. No, No, No, No. A friendly kid takes me here, and I am happy. Oh my God, I have hot water, a shower, and a heater. The bed looks clean so I decide to sleep in it not on it, the first one in a long time.
I have not seen any westerners since Fes. But there is a German couple staying in this hotel. How odd they look. I realize I look the same.
Er Rachidia is a new city, with many wonderful modern buildings. But the sidewalks are deteriorated, the old Mercedes belch fumes, the Muslim dress and the little stalls everywhere keep it distinctly Moroccan.
I ask the hotel owner “Say, is there a Mexican food restaurant”? The blank stare says it all. “Ok, how about a hamburger place?” He shakes his head “No.” “Ok, a Pizza?” He thinks and after a moment draws me a map. Just walk up the main street and it is behind the Super Marche.
Wow, a Super Marche? Here? The French chain? I pull all my reserve energy out. I walk and walk, finally meeting an unemployed mathematician who looks at my map, and indicates I have walken way past it. How could I miss it? He kindly leads me back to the Super Marche, and it turns out to be a small typical market center. Ok.
After much enquiry we find a dubious Pizza place. I offer my companion food, something to drink, some money for helping me, and he declines it all. He says he doesn’t want anything. I burst into tears and hug him.
It’s a pizza with a cracker thin crust and no cheese. I eat it joyfully and keep it down.
02/02/2013 I am feeling better, and I am happy with my room. All that sickness has collapsed into a strong cold, with the fever and coughing, etc. Thats OK, I can handle that here. I will stay here until I am well again.
Someone eat a bean burrito for me please. My eyes tear up at this request.