62km Mellila – Plaine de Gareb

Boats going out to fishAfter three months in Europe, we crossed into Morocco today, a country we’ve been to twice before, but never on bicycles. Before we’ve concentrated on Marrakech and the desert and we hope that this time we will be able to do a proper tour of most of the country. Our entry took place at the border town of Beni Enzar and as we approached from the Spanish side the streets became increasingly full of people, buying up everything from toilet paper to clothes to food and packing it into huge bundles to carry back to Morocco. Quite why Spanish toilet paper is such a sought after item we’re not sure, but it was probably the most common thing we saw people lugging, and in huge quantities. The Spanish police waved us through, not concerned at all about who was leaving their country, although there were tall spiked fences and a multitude of guards closely watching and interrogating anyone who tried to enter from the other side. The Moroccan paperwork took a few minutes but before long we were on our way, first past dozens of packed cafes where people must wait for their delivery of toilet paper from Spain! Then onto the main road where a short journey took us to the port town of Nador. We enjoyed our first mint tea there and a lunch of chicken and chips, stocked up on groceries and then continued along towards Fez. The famous city is some 300km down the road so it will probably be five days or so before we reach it. As we got further out of the city the landscape was dominated by agriculture and plenty of local people out grazing sheep and goats. Although the roads were quieter the cars and trucks seemed to take great delight in honking their horns at us, waving and smiling as they passed. There is no doubt people seem friendlier here, and our arms may be quite tired after a few days of waving back. Near dusk we found a dried up river bed and followed it off the road a bit to pitch our tent. A small trail, presumably to a local village, runs not far away and we saw a few people passing by, all of whom smiled and said ‘Salam’ to us, the ubiquitous greeting in Morocco. A little bit of star gazing before we climbed into our tent for a quiet night.