Day 14: Ait Baha Region to Agadir Airport

Saturday April 20, 2013, 68 km (42 miles) – Total so far: 1,231 km (765 miles)

I woke up to the morning sunlight streaming through the mesh on my tent. Today was my last day in Morocco so I wanted to soak it all up. I lay back in the tent and listened to music for the next hour completely relaxed and content.

When I was finally ready to move I leaned over on my side and picked up my handlebar bag ready to pack everything back in it. As I picked it up a lizard darted out from underneath it and up towards the top of the tent where my head had been. It turned out I had probably had company in the tent all night without realising it. I had no idea how he had managed to get in as the tent was completely sealed, either way I had to get him out now.

I managed to trap him in a corner using a book and opened up the tent door. I picked him up by the tail and tossed him lightly out the door. To my shock his tail came off in my hand and the lizard went one way and his tail the other. The lizard’s tail lay motionless on the ground and he sat there beside it just a foot away from my tent staring at me as if to say “You bastard!”

The whole tail shedding thing is a defense mechanism and luckily the lizard would grow his tail back in time. This made me feel a bit better about dismembering my poor companion for the night! After this excitement I packed up all my gear and emerged from my hidden clearing and back onto the road I had been travelling the day before.

The morning view

The road started descending straight from the start so I had a fantastic morning speeding down the sunlit side of the valley. The traffic was nearly non existent so the shepherds and their flocks of goats/sheep were my only company.

In almost no time at all I rolled into the town of Ait Baha. I was completely out of food so had to skip breakfast that morning. So, I took a quick detour off the road into the centre of Ait Baha and picked up two omelettes for breakfast. After this I took a quick walk through the markets of Ait Baha. There wasn’t too much to see here and as usual in these small towns where few tourists pass through, I got stared out of it by almost everyone. Trying to buy something in a shop results in most of the occupants stopping what they’re doing and staring at you! It is quite frustrating as there’s nothing you can do, it’s just something you have to put up with.

The beautiful scenery continuing as I got closer to Ait Baha
Ait Baha main street

I made my way out of Ait Baha and flew down the road to the next town of Biourga. About 5km before the town I passed a Moroccan guy on a bike who took exception to this and sped up and passed me out again. We ended up trading places and pacing each other the entire way into the town, averaging well over 30km/h. I was making very short work of the distance that remained to the airport so I relaxed in Biourga for a while. This was a slightly nicer town where I wasn’t getting stared out of it by everyone!

I took a walk through the souk here to see if I could find any souvenirs for my family back home. Biourga is not a very tourist orientated town as there aren’t many reasons for tourists to pass this way. Therefore this ended up being a very authentic Moroccan souk and finding any souvenirs proved to be very difficult. Finally I found some nice stuff in a far corner of the souk. Before leaving I stopped at a small eatery for a tagine as well, at around €2 it was the cheapest of the trip so far.

The last thing I had to do in Biourga was to try and find a bag I could pack my gear in for the plane trip back home. I had packed my panniers, sleeping bag, tent and helmet all in the same bag when I flew out from Ireland. I then gave this bag away as there was no way I could carry it on the bike with me. This meant I had to get another to pack all my stuff in to fly home. I tried all the various markets and shops selling bags but none were large enough. The solution I came up with in the end was to buy a large plastic bag from a bed/furniture store (the kind used to pack mattresses.) Trying to explain what I needed led to an awkward conversation but luckily they had what I needed. This meant I could pack all the different pieces of baggage in the one large bag and then seal it shut. It wouldn’t look pretty but it would get everything home. After another while relaxing in Biourga I worked up the motivation to get back on the bike for the final push to the airport.

The view of my final descent out of the Anti Atlas mountain range
The plains surrounding Biourga
Relaxing in the shade in Biourga

The last stage of my trip to the airport ended up being surprisingly tough. It was the hottest time of the day (approx. 35°C) and there was no shade at all on the road. After around half an hour of struggling, a motorbike slowly passed me out and the passenger shouted at me to follow. I was able to pick up my speed and tuck in behind it for a couple of kilometres which made the distance pass a good bit quicker. We parted ways when I reached the main dual carriageway to the airport. An incredibly strong headwind was in my face here all the way to the airport. I now see why I covered so much distance on my first day with a wind like this behind me. After a bit longer than expected I reached the entrance to Agadir airport where my trip had began two weeks previously.

I was a bit sad to have reached the end as I would be leaving all the adventure, freedom and great weather behind me and all that waited for me on the other end of that flight was a return to the incessant depressing rain of Ireland and the return to my job in only two days. I tried to put these thoughts out of me head and set about packing up my bike and gear in the airport.

The long flat straight road to the airport
And back where it all began two weeks ago

After packing everything up I sat back and relaxed. One of the cleaners in the airport who had been watching me pack up invited me over to join him for his lunch. We sat down on the floor of the airport and drank tea and tucked into an omelette that had been made for him. I sat here cross legged on the floor of the airport eating bread and an omelette straight out of a battered frying pan using my hands! It was probably an unusual sight for all the other tourists in the airport and not an offer many of them would accept but I was glad to join him for a meal and a chat.

When check in time arrived I had to give my bike to the luggage handlers. Beforehand though security wanted to have a thorough look at it. Maybe it was because of my beard and my messy hair but they thought something was up. One of the security guys mentioned that there might be drugs in the saddle so they brought out a sniffer dog to have a look over it. Once the dog was happy there was nothing hidden on the bike the luggage handlers took it and I was free to go through to departures.

I boarded my plane and as I looked out the window over the dark hills of Morocco I was sad to be leaving. Over the past two weeks I had passed through some of the most extraordinary scenery I had ever seen and also met some of the nicest people I’ve ever come across while travelling. It really is a fantastic country due both to the scenery and the people and I would recommend a trip here to anybody. Once you are able to deal with a bit of hassle from touts and beggars there is very little else to worry about and it’s a wonder more people don’t visit here considering its proximity to Europe.

It reminded me a lot of my earlier cycle across Egypt and Jordan. While not as adventurous as that trip (due to a lack of political upheaval!) I think the scenery in Southern Morocco surpassed the scenery on that trip. From the high mountain passes in the Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountains to the vast Sahara desert I was absolutely spoiled for choice. The helpful Moroccan people I had met along the way and all the other friendly travelers had made the journey a joy. Every day presented itself as a new adventure. It may sound like a cliche but the trips where you wake up every morning and don’t know what could possibly lay ahead of you that day are some of the best. It was a massive shame to leave this behind, I had to hope that it wouldn’t be too long before my next trip like this.

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