Friday, 27 December 2013

Day 57 - Casablanca+49k to Safi (200km day)

I successfully got up at 4, had a shower - this time getting far less water on floor due to strategically angled shower head. Found some Coco Pops in the cupboard and blew a few ants off before having these for breakfast. The others woke up at 5 and a few minutes later the security guy knocks. We explained to him we still had half an hour - he was just checking up on us to make sure we would be out on time. I was first ready closely followed by the others and we began making our way out of the flat at 5.30. We loaded up the bikes still under the guards watchful eye. We were pedalling at about 5.45. It was fantastic to be cycling this early as the roads were very quiet and it was nice and cool. Pretty soon after setting off Chris's gears started jumping badly and he couldn't ride smoothly in any gear. After a bit of deliberation we decided that the best thing to do was to cable tie the gear arm in position. This stopped the jumping but meant Chris only had one gear (not a massive issue as the day was flat). We pushed all the way to El Jadida before stopping (prob about 50k). El Jadida was a really nice seaside town with great beach and palm tree lined roads - the nicest place we had come across in Morocco so far. It had an Ibis budget hotel allowing for the tourist/beach trade. As we couldn't find a McDonald's we had to make do with a standard shop snack breakfast. The guy at the shop was cool and let us eat right outside. This was at about 8.30am - it was great to have coverered 50km already and gave us a chance to claw back some of the time we lost yesterday. We sat outside the shop and had a big breakfast/lengthy break. The rest of the day gave us some spectacular cycling with awesome coastal roads and country roads - far nicer than the smelly busy roads we were used to. It was noticeably hotter than normal. As it neared midday we stopped at a petrol station for some food. It was in the middle of nowhere and we were warned about eating even before we started by the locals there. So we got our food and cycled just down the road out of the sight to eat. We found a nice spot by the side of the road. I also used this as an opportunity to make my front fork bottle cages (I'd been carrying a couple of round plastic tubes that I had found in Spain and taped these to the forks). After a pretty long break we pushed on. There were miles and miles of deserted beach that we cycled past which looked ideal for surfing/windsurfing. We came across another town between 2 and 3pm called Oualidia. This was also very nice and had stunning beaches but less touristy. We stopped here for another food session. One of the locals took a photo of Chris and Toms bike. After this it was non stop all the way to Safi at the end. I was getting tired and hungry towards the tail-end of the day, with this last push taking what seemed like forever. There were lots of fisherman with buckets of fish they were selling at the side of the road. I got talking to another cyclist whilst riding who was from Safi who had caught me up. As well as the standard conversation about the trip and me asking about him/what cycling is like locally I found out that we should be able to find somewhere to stay in Safi for approx. 60 dirhams. And there were lots of good fish restaurants there. This conversation was a welcome distraction from the monotony of the ride and must have spoken to him for about 30 mins. Eventually I reached Safi and descended into the town to meet the others at the bottom of the hill. From here we made our way into the centre and found a nice looking hotel. Chris went in to check the price. Meanwhile we were approached by some guys saying they could find us much cheaper hotels. The nice hotel was too expensive so we followed one of these guys to a much cheaper alternative down the road. It was very basic but only 60 Dirhams per person so we decided to go for it. We attracted a load of kids whilst waiting outside the hotel who loved the bikes and everything on them - they were really nice. We had to carry the bikes up some stairs and into the room which wasn't by any means a five minute job and then had to rearrange the room to accommodate the bikes. We had a splash wash in the sink in our room as the showers were either non existent or awful. Mark wanted to go out and get a meal whilst me Chris and Tom decided to cook more slaggy tuna. Halfway through boiling the water Mark comes back telling us about this awesome kebab restaurant. He persuaded us to go and get a kebab with him. The man who showed us our hotel before was lurking around outside and Tom gave him 20 Dirhams as a token gesture not knowing Mark had also given him 20 dirhams earlier. We got to the restaurant and were we glad Mark had convinced us to come as his food looked great. We all ordered the same as what Mark had. We were given a plate of salad and a few massive baskets of bread when all we asked for was a beef kebab each. We were slightly concerned that they might try and charge us extra for this. The kebab and chips were really nice and this along with some water came to only around 60 Dirhams each. Chris headed straight back to the hotel as was tired after this long day whilst me, Mark and Tom had a quick look around the market and picked up bread for the morning. We got back and promptly went to bed at about 11.30.

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