100km Foum Zguid — Nomad encampment

Outside TissintDoes it get more beautiful than this?As with most of our long days, we had no intention of going so far, but after an easy morning of very flat riding we quickly reached Tissint, a one-horse town where we had planned to spend the night beside the local waterfalls. Like the rivers of the day before, “waterfall” is a bit of an exaggeration for a bit of water flowing over a few rocks. It’s certainly not Niagra Falls but then again, in the context of Morocco, it’s true to say it is more water than we can remember seeing most other places.

Tissint is also where the police have a checkpoint and while our passports were being examined we asked about the potential for camping. “That would be very dangerous,” we were told. “There are risks.” We asked for more information on the risks and the policeman mumbled something about terrorism and robbers, without being very specific, adding that there was a hotel in the town. He then decided we could camp but only if we left our bicycles and passports with the police overnight and stayed close to the checkpoint. It was all a bit too complicated for us and after a break we were feeling energetic so we decided to carry on.

We decided later that this was a case of “donkey head” which we seem to get every once in a while – continuing to push further on our bikes even when we’ve already covered quite a few kilometers and there are options for staying put.

We cycled another 25km or so before a headwind made it clear it was time to stop. There seemed to be quite a lot of nomad tents around so we pulled off the road several hundred meters and placed ourselves between two tents, which were still some distance from our own.

A peaceful evening followed, watching the sunset and the goats belonging to the nomad families coming home for the night. Just before dark a Berber woman came over to ask if we had any medicine for her little girl, about three years old. She had a cold and it was obvious her nose was stuffed up. We shared what we had as well as some fruit.