We Rode out of the city with a bit of a late start. I somehow slept through the alarm which never happens. Oh well, we were underway at about 8.45 which was not bad considering. Had a nice breakfast at our favourite little café in the Djemma El Fnaa. They have great prices and tasty food. Not to mention the wonderful little pastries! We had been hoping to miss a bit of traffic but it was already fairly busy. We missed our turn off which added about 10km to the ride. Turns out that there are signs pointing to Agadir to the north, west and south. We only knew of one Agadir to the south which was actually supposed to use the same road as Essaoura. Go figure. Had we followed the sign that pointed to the Royal Theatre, we would have had no problems. What were we thinking! Street signs are pretty rare items in Morocco needless to say. On the bright side, our detour was a lovely, quiet road and gave us a great reprieve from the interminable fumes belching in our faces. I truly will be amazed if I have any lungs left at all by the time I get home.
The flat riding was a real treat after so many mountain passes. We flew out of town and put a lot of miles under our belts in no time. I enforced a few breaks so that we could keep going. Dal was reluctant to stop the momentum but I knew we would be doing a lot of kilometers and had to pace ourselves. Even with the pacing and riding on my pedals as often as possible, my saddle sore still returned. I really should have brought a different bike but c'est la vie!
We did stop in a dusty little town for a soda at one point. Can't remember the name and I wouldn't be surprised if the residence also forgot the name. It was a pretty grim little place right on the highway. It just had tons of dust and fumes. The people were not terribly friendly, although when two young kids started getting a bit too focused on our bikes, a kindly old gentleman went over and gave them a stern talking to. They of course took off. Funny how they will listen to the much older generation but not much else.
We eventually stopped for lunch in Chichaoua with plans of pushing on to Sidi Moktar and calling it a day. However, when we asked the local traffic cop if he knew of a place to stay in Sidi Moktar he said that we were in the last town with a place to stay between here and Essaouira. So much for our plan on a two day ride there. After a bit of thought we decided to hop a bus to Essaouira and just ride around there. It took about an hour and a half and lots of help from the cop, but we got on a bus and were not ripped off. Not sure what the cop said to the driver, but we were well treated. It went to within 34 km of our destination and by the time we got there it was almost dark, so we hopped yet another bus for the last stretch. I suspect we overpaid for the bikes but at that point it was still a bargain. We did meet a really nice young guy who explained a lot about how the taxi's work etc. He was very nice and helpful. He had been to Montreal a few years back and understood what it is like to not understand anything.
Arriving at the bus station was a zoo. People were hopping on the bus and clambering all over us to have them stay in their hotels or sell us something or other. It took a lot of firm "no" saying and lots of wits to get our bikes and bags out of there intact. However, it was a bit like a game when it comes right down to it. We got riding in through town in the dark and eventually found the old walled city. Then we were a able to get lost in the alleyways. We eventually asked enough questions and found a few places. I splurged to stay at Dar Afram mainly because the guy who answered the door was Aussie. I was just plain ready to not have to deal with hassling in another language. We will look for something cheaper today but I have to say, my very own king size bed with soft pillows was worth it! The room is massive with two beds and two cushion-type sofas. We even had our own little table to eat dinner at. I am really looking forward to exploring this medina because it is not as high pressure as the one in Marrakech, yet it is still pretty big with lots to see and do. I am also quite stoked about eating some fish since we are finally on the coast. Haven't seen fish on a menu anywhere until here.
Off to explore now…