61km Merzouga – Near Rissani
Our campsite turned out to be a very friendly spot, not unlike Cheers “where everyone knows your name”. It took some doing to get out much before 10am as all the campers wanted to come up and chat and one even insisted on repairing Friedel’s shoes, which are coming away at the sole, with a bit of Duck tape. We followed a dirt track towards Merzouga and were mobbed by two packs of children on the hunt for candy before we got to the town. The more touristy the area we are in the more aggressive the children become, chasing the bikes and reaching out to grab them. On main roads they will often run in front of you, quite scary as you try to dodge kids and cars. Thankfully there was little traffic around Merzouga and we had a quiet ride into Rissani, seeing camels grazing alongside the road. Rissani was a zoo with touts everywhere looking for business. As we now know off by heart, the conversation goes like this:
Moroccan (running across street with hand extended) — “Hello my friend. How are you?”
Cyclists (trying to run away but not succeeding) — “Fine.”
Moroccan — “English? Francais? Deutsch?”
Cyclists (still trying to run away but now surrounded by several people) — “English.”
Moroccan — “Welcome to Morocco. You are very welcome here.”
Cyclists — “Thanks. Now we were just going….”
Moroccan — “You look for a restaurant? Over here please. Very good tagines, brochettes.”
Cyclists — “No, thanks, we’re not hungry.”
Moroccan — “But I have good food, good prices. Come, just look. Coca-cola? Tea?”
Usually at this point we make a dash for it, all the while followed by the Moroccan who wants to know why we are running away and three others who have something else to sell. Repeat twenty or thirty times and there you have your typical day in a small Moroccan tourist town. Woe betide the person who just wants to think quietly for a few minutes about what they are doing and where they are going! On this occasion we were trying to find our way through the market for a few vegetables.
That task finally complete, we headed out on the road to Zagora, a quiet and lonely road with few major towns on it. Late in the afternoon a German couple shouted hello from their campervan, parked on the side of the road. Like all good Germans, Horst and Christa had a good supply of cake and coffee to hand for passing visitors and several hours later we were still there chatting with them. We pitched up our tent beside their campervan and enjoyed their company through supper and late into the evening, before finally retiring to the tent for the night.