What I’m Seeing

The title covers what this is about……

08 – A Moroccan Bike Trip – Searching For My Mojo 2008

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Dear reader, this tale may sound like pure fiction but I swear it’s all true, honestly, cross

my heart.

 

I awoke with that horrible feeling that I was missing something; I turned to find my lovely

assistant grunting sweetly beside me. So it must be something else. I donned my silk

smoking jacket and fluffy mules and padded out to the garage.

The bottom fell out of my world when I realised what was missing. My Mojo was gone. Some

lowlife had had away with it during my slumbers.

In its place was a child like scribbled note in green crayon on the back of an Anne Summers

receipt for a pair of studded black leather shorts from their “Big Boy” range.

It read:

Kevin,

We have your Mojo. If you want it back then be in Marrakech on the 19th and all will be

revealed.

Love and kisses,
Wild Bill Hiccup and Ali Bar Bill.

I was shocked and immediately reached for the phone. The local dibble listened to my tale

of woe. They said that they were sorry but as they’d been tasked to record the speed of every

motor vehicle in the UK and then send the owners a £60 bill to cover the costs then they had

little time left to be looking for a pair of Mojo kidnapers. There was only one option left;

I tasked my lovely assistant with the job of booking the flight while I packed a quantity of

unmentionables in a rather natty crocodile skin holdall.

 

I was off on a mission to save my Mojo and I could sense that I would need all my finely

honed wits and razor like reactions on this one. Just to cover all the bases I rang The Boy

Burton and invited him along. His assistance on previous missions with regard to alcohol

redistribution and male grooming techniques had proven invaluable. He agreed to come along

for the ride as long as he got first dibs on the shower caps and tiny soaps in the hotel

bathrooms. Fine by me.

 

There must have been a mistake. My lovely assistant knew my usual travel requirements, Club

Class and champagne as a minimum but yet I found myself sat on a rather sweaty plastic seat

which was barely large enough for a child never mind a man of my sturdy build. It appeared I

was on one of those economy airlines that I’d heard people of the lower orders enthusing

about in the odd public bar I’d wandered into by mistake.

 

The lady who I took to be a cheap hooker due to her ample use of eye liner and florescent

lipstick turned out to be the air hostess. She could barely muffle her snorts of laughter

when I asked the whereabouts of the in-flight cocktails and smoked salmon canapés. This was

going to be a tough mission.

Day 1

I landed in Marrakech and waded through a customs hall full of Easy Jetters and BMI Babies

let out of the UK to buy cheap fake Rolex watches and drink overprice Bacardi and Cokes in

the hotel bars of Marrakech. A text message from The Boy Burton confirmed he’d rolled into

the city this morning too. He’d meet me at The Hotel Benihill where we’d decide on our next

move.

 

As I walked out of the terminal to hail a hackney cab I sensed something was wrong, within

seconds this was confirmed. A pair of used gentleman’s Y-fronts were forced over my head and

I was bundled into the back of a Land Rover full of sweaty bike boots and helmets. I passed

out from the smell within seconds.

 

I awake to find The Boy Burton wafting Issey Miyake after shave under my nose to revive me.

While performing his ablutions in the ensuite he’d heard the door slam and found me on the

bedroom floor with the Y-Fronts still on my head. At first he took it that I’d been on a

bender and had rolled in as usual a little worse for wear. But then he found a note pined to

my cravat, we had been summoned to a briefing in the hotel bar by a group going by the name

of The Moto Morocco Team at six.

 

We were in The Hotel Benihill and from the balcony I could see the vehicle that had

brought me here. I felt I was getting close to the miscreants who’d stole my Mojo.

 

Mojo

 

It was a plan of fiendish cunning. Wild Bill Hiccup and Ali Bar Bill explained in the hotel

bar why myself, and as it turned out, five other gentleman motorcyclists had been summoned to

Moroccoin the pursuit of our vehicles.

 

Their business was bike tours and we were to be their travelling publicity campaign for two

weeks. We would be tortured into riding on spectacular roads and forced to stop in exotic

hotels along the way. We would all be photographed during this time and would be expected to

smile and pretend we were enjoying the breath taking scenery and glorious sunshine. Maps

were produced showing seriously wriggly roads and overnight stops in strangely foreign named

towns. Only after all this would we be allowed to return to the UK with our bikes.

 

These men were evil.

 

I turned to The Boy Burton and realised he was already half cooked on cheap G&T’s, I’d need

to explain this all to him again when he’d dried out in the morning. I ordered a double

myself and listened to the Mu’adh-dhin calling people to prayer from the medina and the sound

of two Australian backpackers arguing with a waiter over a bar bill.

Tomorrow we would begin the tour…………

Day 2

The bikes were revealed to us all the next day. My Mojo was back and I was a happy man

again. Although I didn’t show my emotions, stiff upper lip and all that.

 

Mojo

 

The other bikes consisted of a BMW 650 ST, a 16 year old Paris Dakar airhead, a vanilla

1200, a full on tarts handbag 1200 Adv and a Honda Pan Galactica. The Boy Burton was on his

1150 SE and Wild Bill was riding his 1150 Adv.

 

Wild Bill immediately spotted my powers of navigation and leadership ability and therefore

told me to sit at the back of the cavalcade and just follow everyone else. Apparently I

would be Tail End Charlie, which up until this moment I thought was a term that referred to

Columbian Marching Powder snorted off the end of a gents appendage.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

We all filed out of the city and across the flat plain that Marakech sits on, heading east,

then we started to climb North towards the falls at Ouzoud. Five kilometre before the falls

we suffered our first mishap. Victor, a South African gent on the 650 had a severe case of

target fixation with an Armco barrier on a switch back bend. His bike went over the Armco

and he slid, rolled and bounced down the road.

 

Mojo

 

Victor escaped with bruises and grazes and his bike lost the foot rubber part of the gear

lever, twisted the forks in the yokes and snapped it’s screen off. Victor was antisepticized

and the forks straightened, the gear lever drilled and a bolt used to replace the foot rubber

then gaffa tape solved the detached screen.

 

While this was happening the second mishap of the day occurred, Jim on the PD passed out

at the side of the road. We dosed him up with salt powders and water but he was in no state

to ride. Ali Bar Bill returned with the trailer and the PD was loaded up.

 

Mojo

 

We lunched in Ouzoud on chicken tagine and had a look at the water fall.

 

Mojo

 

Then the third mishap of the day occurred, Walter on the 1200 Adv dropped his bike onto an

Italians hire car in the car park. Much waving of insurance docs and Anglo-Italian diplomacy

ensued. Walter seemed to take it in his stride.

 

Mojo

 

This was turning out to be a fun day and it was only lunch.

We eventually made the hotel just outside Beni Mallal and chilled with a bottle of the

local beer.

 

The Boy Burton spent an hour in the bathroom and then proceeded to turn our bedroom into

what looked like a Chinese laundry. I wondered what fun tomorrow would bring.

During the night the world dropped out of my bottom and I slept only three or four hours. I

took the necessary drugs and hoped they would block the deluge until we made the hotel that

evening.

Day 3

We rode up through the cedar forests with Fez as tonight’s destination.

 

Mojo

 

The roads entertained and the sun shone. I sent a text to my lovely assistant and told her

I could be a while.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

Wild Bill stopped and shouted his orders to us from the front every now and again. None of

us could hear them so we just nodded our helmets and carried on regardless.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

I asked this small boy what he’d said at one stop, he said that the red headed man was

crazy with the heat and told me to make good my escape at the next available opportunity. A

wise head on young shoulder I thought.

 

Mojo

 

We had a coffee in the ski resort of Ifrane and then onto the Old Town in Fez.

Chelsea were playing Man Utd on the TV in the bar so I ignored the delights of a medieval

city for a beer and a pointless game of football.

Maybe the heat was getting to me or maybe I just needed to be within trotting distance of a

flushable WC.

 

Tomorrow we head south for the deserts, Wild Bill promised camels, sand dunes and swimming

pools.

 

That night I slept in a large room with five other men. You get to sleep with fewer men

when in prison. There wasn’t a toilet brush either, oh the humility.

Day 4

Day four dawned. After the standard breakfast of bread, jam and coffee that a Wimpey’s would

be ashamed to serve saw us on the road. Today we were to ride 300 miles south to Merzouga,

though Sefrou, Boulmane, Midelt, Rich, Errachidia, Efford and Rissani.

At lunch we rode our bikes through this gateway………

 

Mojo

 

And parked them in this courtyard, much to the annoyance of a group of French OAP’s who

were stood around discussing the spiralling cost of angora wool V-neck pullovers until we

disturbed them……..

Mojo

 

After refreshments we carried on south.

 

Mojo

 

We came across the “Tunnel of the Legionnaire”. At the other end a chap was guarding it,

not sure why?

The end we stopped at had a the usual fossil/trinket seller. But this one had a twist. He

claimed to have visited Bognor Regis a few years ago and asked why English people always

laughed when he told them this.

I couldn’t think of an answer so I got The Boy Burton to buy one of his trinkets.

 

Mojo

 

We rode along the side of a palmery for a while before a long stretch of straight,

extremely hot desert road.

 

Mojo

 

Wild Bill led us off the tarmac road and down a mile or so of nice gravel to the Kasbah

Mohayut

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

The Pan Galactica rider was cursing him until he saw the inside of the place. Well worth

the rough ride.

 

Mojo

Mojo

Mojo

 

The bar was particularly welcome…

 

Mojo

 

We paddled then ate dinner and then retired for an early night, tomorrow would be a long

day, especially for me but I didn’t know it then.

 

Mojo

 

During the night half the known universe dropped out of my bottom and I slept only two or

three hours. I took the necessary drugs and hoped they would block the deluge until we made

the hotel that evening.

 

Day 5

 

There was a knock on the door at four twenty. The camels had arrived. We crawled out into

the dark desert and looked at the dromedary type beasts. Ali Bar Bill mounted his as did

Wild Bill and three others.

 

Mojo

 

I, on the other hand crawled back into the Kasbah and decided a camel ride to the top of

the dunes wasn’t on my list of things to do that Thursday morning.

I took my camera and cigarettes onto the roof found a comfy chair and promptly fell asleep

for half an hour.

 

When I woke up the sun was rising.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

And after a while I saw the camel train returning.

 

Mojo

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

Wild Bill and Ali Bar Bill were on foot, They’d sold their camels to a passing Spanish

tourist and were now discussing the feasibility of setting up a used camel salesroom in

Erford.

 

Mojo

 

Back at the Kasbah the Landie was loaded with the luggage and left meanwhile we all had a

lazy couple of hours before getting on the bikes and leaving ourselves. All but for Walter

though.

 

He’d packed his bike keys in his luggage on the Landie, which was now well on it’s way to

tonight’s hotel. Ali Bar Bill was contacted and told to turn around and I shot off to meet

him on his way back. The rest left with Wild Bill, leaving a very embarrassed Walter at the

Kasbah to wait for me to return with his keys.

 

I stopped for a picture in Rissani and then again on the desert road.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

A hundred miles later I was back with Walter and we had the bike going. I then rode down

the same stretch of very straight, very hot desert road for the forth time in the last 24

hours.

Me and Walter stopped for coffee at a nice little café mid afternoon and were just enjoying

the peace and quiet when the rest of the cavalcade turned up. Not sure how we’d managed to

but we’d passed them at some point.

 

That night we stopped in another very nice Kasbah in Tinahir.

 

Mojo

 

It had been another fun filled day. We decorated our room with wet washing, ate yet

another chicken tagine and drank more cold beer. Oh, the drudgery of it all.

 

Day 6

 

I woke after holding onto the contents of my bowels all night. A pleasant change. First

stop today was a ride up the Todger Gorge then back down and then up the Dades valley for

lunch and then back down. Tonight we would be in Ouarzazarte.

On the way up the Todger Gorge we popped into see our friend Ahmed at the Brothers Hotel.

He was all smiles and did his full on Boratt impression for us all.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

Then up into the Gorge.

 
Mojo

 

We rolled down the Gorge and headed for the Dades Valley. You all know what’s coming now

don’t you?

Yet another picture of that road, you know the bendy, twisty, winding one….

 

Mojo

 

There you go, done now, until the next time.

At the café near the top we watched a guy doing a bit of plastering.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

Bet he wasn’t getting danger money.

Back down the valley and a hot afternoon spent riding to Ouarzazarte. When we got there

the temperature didn’t fall although the beer helped.

 

Mojo

 

Day 7

 

I had a worry free fart that night for the first time in days. Life was good.

Wild Bill told us that as we’d been very good and smiled a lot he’d let us have a day off

tomorrow. All we had to do today was make it down to Zagora in the south in one piece.

Not a problem. But first we had a diversion North to Ait Benhaddou to see the fortified

city that sits on the Ouarzazarte river which seems be a favourite place for film stars to

work.

 

I didn’t take a photo as I spent most of my time there talking to a carpet salesman with

The Boy Burton. We laughed our selves silly when we eventually heard his best ever, lowest

price especially for us, his friends from England. He chased us up the street but we

couldn’t hear him for laughing still.

This is a list of the movie pictures filmed there.

* Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
* The Man Who Would Be King (film) (1975)
* Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
* The Jewel of the Nile(1985)
* The Living Daylights (1987)
* The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
* The Sheltering Sky (1990)
* Kundun (1997)
* The Mummy (1999)
* Gladiator (2000)
* Alexander (2004)

Down the road again and a stop for lunch that eventually took over two hours. We ordered

tagines and watched as moped riders were dispatched into the hills to fetch them.

The view was pleasant enough while we waited though.

 

Mojo

 

Then on to the Hotel Fibule for two nights in Zagora.

 

Mojo

 

Tomorrow was a day off so me and The Boy Burton decided to do what we enjoy doing when we

get time off, we thought we’d go for a bike ride.

 

Day 8

 

After a dip in the pool we donned our Sunday best riding gear and set out south for the town

of Mohamed, the end of the road.

 

The ride went like this,

Desert,

Bendy road over a ridge,

Bendy road down a ridge

Desert,

Bendy road over a ridge,

Bendy road down a ridge

Desert

Mudhole of a town called Mohamed after 60 miles.

Then the same in reverse back to Zagora.

 

Still, it got us out of the house.

Photos on top of one of the two identical ridges we passed over on the way there, or it

could have been coming back, not sure now. I can see how old Laurence got all mixed up when

he first wandered around in the desert now.

 

Mojo

Mojo

Mojo

 

When we got back we had a drinks and cakes with the locals in a pleasant little tea shop in

Zagora High Road then headed back to the hotel.

The local mechanics had been tasked to fit wider pegs to the 1200 and wider flatter pegs to

the pillions pegs on the Pan.

Below are the results of their endeavours. I’ll let you decide on the merit of each

adaptation.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

That night we dined on half a lamb/goat that had been cooking in a sealed clay oven all

afternoon. We watch it being broken out of the oven and then being hacked at by Tattoo off

Fantasy Island.

And very nice it was too. Sadly lacking in mint sauce,Yorkshire puds and roasties we made

do with Cous Cous.

 

Mojo

 

A pleasant way to spend a day off. I went to bed a happy man.

 

Day 9

 

Up and at em tiger I shouted at The Boy Burton as I leapt out of bed, fully revived after my

day off.

He farted and rolled over so I went for breakfast alone and packed my bike while it was

still moderately cool. Not a long way to go today but I was still looking forward to it.

We passed through Adgz which defies pronunciation then hung a left for Tazenakht.

People stopped and looked around, took photos then got on their bikes and rode on again.

Mojo

 

We lunched in Tazenakht which seemed nice enough, plenty of shops to amuse The Boy Burton.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

It had a hint of Milton Keynes about it though, not sure why.

By teatime we were in a Motel type place just outside Taliouine. The town prouds itself on

claiming to be the saffron capital of Morocco. Which was bore out by that nights chicken

tagine (can you see a trend here?) which was so yellow it looked like someone had dropped a

highlighter pen into the mix.

 

Mojo

 

On the campsite was a 65 year old Dutchman and his wife who’d been travelling in this Land

Rover camper conversion for eight years. His longest trip being Amsterdam to Cape Townand

back. A nice chap and a nice vehicle.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

The view from my chalet wasn’t too shabby.

 

Mojo

 

I went to bed that night and dreamed of travelling around Holland in a camper van full of

yellow chickens.

 

Day 10

 

Someone in the crew explained to me that these were what motorcycles had attached to their

rear wheel before shaft drives. I could see why they made a better multi ring gas stove for

tagine parties.

 

Mojo

 

We breakfasted alfresco and then headed off. We went roaring through small towns like a

group of motorcycle riders roaring through a small town.

The stopping, photographing then riding on thing carried on happening.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

Coffee out of a tartan cup was a treat at a café and reminded me of dear old Ronno, we were

treated to some fine kettles too.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

We had a late lunch where my Mojo drew a bit of attention. While there a slightly drunk

Moroccan informed me he had been to Englandin the 70’s, Bognor Regis in fact. What is the

attraction of the place to Moroccans?

 

Mojo

 

Then came a bit of a surreal shenanigans, Ali Bar Bill and Wild Bill led us to The Blue

Rocks.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

Spot the Pan, oddly enough his fork seal blew the next day.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

It felt like being on the set of the Flintstones. Boys being boys played on their

motorcycles and generally had a rip roaring time. Most entertaining.

 

Mojo

 

We found our hotel and had a rather noisy night due to it being Friday and having to

partake in early doors. A group of French Moto-Cross-Off-Road-Type-Of-Thing bike riders sat

in a corner and stayed well clear of the odd English people.

I retired to my room in a pleasant state of mind. The picture on the wall would have made

a Welshman feel at home but made me a little uneasy. I dreamt of blue sheep and tartan

dinosaurs.

 

Mojo

 

Day 11

 

Mojo

 

Wild Bill decided all this tarmac was no good for his image and enlisted the more foolhardy

of us to do a bit of an off road loop with him after breakfast.

All we could do was grin and bare it.

 

Mojo

 

There were villages hewn out of the earth and castles in the sky. All very Tolkien like.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

Then we were back on the main roads with the rest of the pranksters.

 

Mojo

 

The last night before Marrakech deserved somewhere special so we ended up in what was once

a Pashas palace. A very handsome abode, with a rather natty gentlemen’s club for a bar. And

peacocks in the gardens.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

In our room I got The Boy Burton to put the kettle on for a cuppa while I dressed for

dinner.

 

Mojo

Mojo

 

I asked The Boy Burton what a Pasha was and he explained it was a nightclub in

w:st=”on”>Ibiza. I was a little dubious but he knows about these things.

Our aircon worked a treat that night. I woke up at four in the morning and put my socks and

fleece on. It was like a home from home.

 

Day 12

 

The last day dawned. I woke early and went to sit in the garden, it was quiet and cool. A

French tourist came and sat at the chair next to mine despite there being plenty of others

scattered all over the gardens. He didn’t say bonjour or even nod when I looked at him. I

got up and farted as I walked by him, loudly, and hopefully pungently.

 

I had breakfast with the others then took my coffee outside, I didn’t want to finish the

trip but I knew today was the last day on the road. I’d got my Mojo working and I didn’t

want to stop it.

Mojo

 

Wild Bill made the peacocks dance for their breakfast.

 

Mojo

 

Then we were off again. Not great roads………. just the Tizi-N-Test. Whatever you do, before

you die, do this road, do it on a C90, do it on a Hardly Moving Son, but just do it on two

wheels.

 

I’m not going to post a picture. Go and see it.

That night we went out in Marrakech. We had a meal, drank and smoked smelly cigars.

Wild Bill and Ali Bar Bill were forgiven.

 

Did I mention that Greg, the Pan rider had dragged Victoria Beckham all around Morocco on his

pillion seat? No? We’ll here she is…..

 

Mojo

Mojo

Mojo

Mojo

 

Day 13

 

Some people got up late the next day. I did. I had a ride then tossed around and

eventually got on a plane.

 

The hostess still looked like a cheap hooker.

Waiting for me at Luton airport my lovely assistant looked like she always

does, lovely.

Thank You.

Mojo

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Written by whatton

November 30, 2008 at 11:07 am

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