Calasparra to Chefchaouen

Blog 2 1st July 2012 Moroccan Madness

Leaving Calasparra we wound our way through a network of back roads, arriving fairly hot and bothered in the little village of Zarcilla de Ramos. Here we found a little café and pizza joint run by a very sweet young man who was anxious that his pizza should met with our approval, which it most definitely did.

He mentioned a nearby river for swimming, and we spent a nice cool afternoon sitting in the water, before setting up camp nearby.

The next day we made a slight detour to the nearest town in a futile attempt to locate an English-speaking doc for a script for some antibiotics for Ed. Luckily these proved unnecessary & we were able to continue.

We had some mountains to climb to get back to the coast at Almeria, but the gradients were pretty gentle, and Spanish drivers encouraged us onwards and upwards with cries of “Bravo!” and applause as we wound our way over a couple of passes.

It was an exhilarating downhill swoop into Almeria, past some spectacular dry gullies and mesas that have provided a ‘wild west’ setting for spaghetti westerns such as ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’.

We left our beach campsite well before dawn to jump on the early ferry across to Nador in Morocco. A few hours later we rode off the ship and into the noise, dirt, smell, and colour of north Africa.

We spent the first night trying to orientate ourselves to a new country. Clearly we failed, as we promptly got lost when we tried to find the correct road out of town the following morning. The map also failed to indicate that we were going to spend the next few days torturing ourselves in the Rif Mountains riding for hours uphill at speeds approaching 7kph in sweltering heat and humidity.

At least it was interesting riding, with Berber villages scattered around. We spent one night camped beside a family home, asking for permission to set up when our legs and water supplies finally gave out after a very long day. This caused much hysterical giggling from the teenage girls and curious peeks from the smaller family members .

The following morning we quickly realised that we weren’t actually lost at all, just a mere 250 vertical metres from the pass, followed by a 20 km plummet down through the fog and into the very pretty village of El Jebna.

It took another couple of days of brutal roller-coaster style riding before we whimpered our way up the last steep 5 km to the lovely oasis of Chefchaouen. It was worth it. We had a couple of days off here to recover our mojo and explore the blue and white wonderland of the medina.