73km Tazzarine – N9 Junction
Wednesday turned out to be market day in Tazzarine, fortunate for us since our panniers were in need of refilling. Moroccan souks are quite a treat for the eyes and ears as you jostle your way to the right stall. We entered through a large arched doorway where several beggars sat asking for change, including one man singing verses from the Koran. We passed tables selling everything from light bulbs to couscous steamers before we got to the fruit and vegetable stalls, where we stocked up on oranges, bananas, tomatoes, onions, lemons and carrots. Normally you are supposed to buy each thing by the kilo but the stall owners have been good about letting us make up a mix of what we need. We walked around a little more, failing to find the pasta we were looking for but enjoying seeing all the spices and pulses on display along with a few auctions going on.
Just as we were leaving a huge busload of tourists from Thomas Cook – a big UK operator – piled into the market. Maybe the guide figured he couldn’t lose them in this smallest of souks!
We then carried on the road to Zagora, stopping for lunch under a big tree just outside one village. Within minutes we had three boys about 10 years old beside us, watching our every move, whispering and giggling together. Life must be boring in small Moroccan towns if we are the most exciting thing around! They were still there half an hour or so later when another group of their friends showed up. At one count we had 13 intrigued kids in a circle around us. They quietly observed us for some time before the requests started.
Give us your bell. Give us a helmet. Give us that radio. We turned down all their demands but they still thought us friendly enough to cycle down the road with us, before waving goodbye at the village limits.
We continued to dodge candy-hungry children throughout the afternoon, trying to keep a sense of humour about it all but feeling slightly harassed. When a Swiss couple stopped to hand us two mint candies, declaring “we give these to all the children along the road too”, we almost gave them another view of their seemingly benevolent actions but they sped off throwing bonbons out the window before we could react. Not only is throwing candy to kids dangerous, for us and the kids running out into the road, but to look at most of their teeth it’s clear that sugar is the last thing they need.
(The post from Yves below reminded us the candies were pretty tasty! Maybe we should amend our advice: Swiss tourists shall from now on only give candy to cycle tourists, not children 😉 )
After a late afternoon ride through green palms and blooming apple trees we finally settled on a camping site in a dried up river bed, just off the road and before the N9 junction. It was hard to find a place very far from people as a long oasis means lots of houses but despite being in view of a couple villages no one came anywhere near our tent.