A warm welcome in Morocco…

After a brief struggle in the post-strike mayhem of the ferry port we were on our way to Nador on a 30 hour journey across the choppy Medittarean. The time passed us by quickly, we napped, we ate, we napped some more and before we knew it we had arrived.

Ferry napping

We found our way to the train station to take the Rabat service before nightfall, only to be approached by the guard who informed us that we would not be able to travel as there was no room for our heavily loaded bikes. The kind guard immidiately offered to show us the way to the bus office at the end of his shift (which happened to be 5 mins away). With some concerned looks from the office staff who realised that weighing our bikes (standard practice for all bus luggage) was not going to be feasible, we were helped to negotiate a price and loaded our bikes on board, eating up about a third of luggage space!

Loading bikes onto bus

Twelve hours and a sugary-tea stop later we arrived in Rabat to see the sunrise.We telephoned Kamal who we would be staying with in Rabat, and proudly announced that we had a GPS and thus would be able to find his house with a simple address. Five minutes later we called him back explaining that the GPS did not show his house, Kamal was calm and simply told us that we should use the ‘Moroccan GPS’. This complex system followed this format…

‘Salam Aleikoum, do you know how to get to 2 Avenue El Fath..?’

(Scratches head in knowing fashion) ‘Ouais, Ouais… turn right and follow the street and ask someone’.

‘Salam Aleikoum, do you know how to get to 2 Avenue El Fath..?’

(Rubs chin in knowing fashion) ‘Ouias, Ouais, straight ahead until the roundabout, head towards the sea and ask someone’.

‘Salam Aleikoum, do you know how to get to 2 Avenue El Fath..?’

(Nods with the look of a man of local wisdom) ‘Ouias, Ouais, left at this corner and in maybe 2 km ask someone’.

The instructions continue until, to our utter suprise and shock we actually arrive at our desired location (this system has now worked for us on countless occasions, even with just the name of a household).

Kamal greeted us with a big smile introducing us to the warmth of Moroccan hospitality with a beautiful lunch and condensed tour of Rabat; his local knowledge and gentle manner made our first day in Morocco perfect. Kamal also introduced us to his close friend and neighbour Driss and his wife Nissrine. True to Moroccan hospitality they immediately offered us their spare bedroom, rather than us sleeping in Kamal’s livingroom. Overwhelmed by their generosity we have begun to feel like part of an extended family here, the regular gatherings of family with large feasts of lamb, fish and tagines have done nothing to distract from this feeling.

Imran and Kamal

Kamal showed us around the city to admire the Chellah (dating back to 1339), taking a leisurly stroll around the artesan market and ending our day sipping sweet Moroccan tea looking out across the sublime Kasbah of the Udayas.

Udayas Viez

With its beautiful garden and amazing terrace overlooking the river and port, it was not surprising that it is known as a hub of creativity. To our geeky delight we spotted a young musician carving wood to a shape suspiciously like that of a gimbri (a Moroccan lute of West African origin). We got chatting and asked if he knew of any Gnawa music in Rabat, he suggested we go along to a soirée and gave us an address. It seems as though the music we have been cycling for may be near by…

Carving a gimbri

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7 responses to “A warm welcome in Morocco…

  1. my loves! wonderful blog- first time i have looked at it. i love the story about the directions- we had the same in Ghana on the first night we got there, I didnt realise it could be a system, i just thought it was hilarious that we’d all assumed he was directing us there until he said…”then ask someone there”. brilliant. big love to you both, miss you here in the jcr from where im writing..xxx

    • hey div! wow amazing, we just finished our first full day day of Moroccan cycling and you’re in the JCR… My mental image is of you on one of the old manky sofas but I know that’s not true 😦 Hope it’s still SOAS and everyone is fantastic x much love Imran

  2. Thanks for the update, how lovely to have cycled all the way to a warm climate. You guys are brilliant. keep going.
    Love and best wishes,
    John.

  3. Richard Denny

    This sounds like the most interesting and enlighting experience. Its very humbling and always very pleasing to find such generosity and kindness. This is why we travel. Glad you guys are having such a good time, max the adventure continue.
    Very best,
    Rich

  4. Pingback: The beauty of Gnawa music… | music cycles

  5. Pingback: A warm welcome in Morocco… | music cycles | Morocco | MAROC MOROCCO

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