49km Ifrane – Timahdite
The day dawned cold but clear and after a night with bugs in our room and the boom-boom of the hotel dance club we were keen to get out of Ifrane as quickly as possible. We ventured out onto icy roads, which thankfully improved hugely in condition once we were on the main route. Our many layers kept us warm even though the temperatures were near freezing and we made good headway for the first hour, riding through beautiful cedar forests. Just before Azrou we saw a sign pointing to the N13, the road we needed to take, and followed the turnoff, not realising that this was in fact a scenic route and not the main junction. Our first clue might have been the shepherds herding their flocks on the road – something you wouldn’t do on a highway – or maybe we should have thought twice when faced with a steep climb up what amounted to little more than a track. The cold must have gotten to our brains as we carried on faithfully. It made for a tough few kilometers but was at least in part worth the hike over icy dirt roads and through the woods as we enjoyed seeing many monkeys in the trees. As we were taking pictures one monkey got the better of us, having obviously seen a few tourists in his day, he crept towards us and then grabbed a loaf of bread hanging off the back of Friedel’s bike. This little detour took us some time for the distance covered and was exhausting, so by the time we reached the town of Timahdite we were completely shattered. The weather was still quite cold and the wind was blowing strongly, but with no hotels in the town we stopped at the police station to ask if there was a place we might camp for the night. The gendarmerie insisted it would be too cold to stay outside and then set about turning themselves into the local tourist bureau, determined to find us a room for the night. An hour later a local man, with a look of some reluctance on his face, arrived to take two weary travellers home with him. We wonder if maybe he owed the police a favour! In any case, we were welcomed into his warm home, fed a delicious meal of chicken and chips, and then put to sleep in the living room, with blankets piled high to keep us warm. After this experience, we may well use the police as a hotel booking service again!