While in Meknes, I met a guy on the street who insisted on inviting me to dinner. I politely took his phone number and he left. I was staying with my bike traveling host (see previous post). This guy came back and found the apartment building and insisted we come to his house for dinner. So we went. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. So I do not have pictures of a great evening.
But...he and his wife told me I looked like a Turkish actor named Halit Ergenc, who plays Sultan Suleyman in a soap opera. They took a video of me and about 20 pictures.
Here are two pictures of him in the show, judge for yourself (recent photo of me later in this post):
I. Meknes to Chefchaouen
Also while in Meknes, I spotted a satellite campus of Trump University:
I had to use a taxi to cover some of this distance due to time and mountains.
Chefchaouen was one of the cities I was most looking forward to visiting in Morocco. It is famous for having blue buildings. Chefchaouen lived up to its billing visually - very beautiful. However, the people and the atmosphere were very disappointing. In addition to the blue buildings, Chefchaouen is known for handmade Berber products (rugs, blankets) and marijuana. Evidently the hills around Chefchaouen are one of the larger marijuana producing regions in the world. This coupled with the proximity to Europe, gives the town the feel of a Mexican resort town.
Too many "touts" trying to sell me rugs, restaurants and marijuana. Within 30 minutes of walking out of my hotel, I had been offered marijuana 5-6 times. This is in addition to numerous overtures to "just come look in my shop." I could not even sit in the town square for one minute without being bothered. Also, after 11 days in Morocco, I had my first unsettling moment:
Since the town caters to so many Europeans, there are restaurants open and people eating, despite the Ramadan fast. Also, as I mentioned, there are locals begging me to enter their restaurant. I had bought a bottle of water for the next day's bike ride. I planned to leave early and no shops will be open. Some local sees me walking with the bottle in my hand and comes across the street yelling at me for having water during Ramadan. "Are you American? You think you are bigger and better than everyone? Don't you know what Ramadan is? Why do you have water?" He was really pissed off.
Part of me wanted to ask why his countrymen were trying to sell me weed and food at their restaurants. But I used my best Arabic to tell him I respect Ramadan and I bought the water for later. He calmed down a little and said thank you. But the whole thing was a little unnerving. Not a good feeling being yelled at for being American in a Muslim country. However, this has been the only such moment in 10 days in Morocco.
Anyways, onto the scenery of the town:
Chefchaouen call to prayer, I can't get enough of these calls to prayer: https://youtu.be/OWHQf3yI5-8
The wind was so strong, that even when I was going downhill, I had to pedal! I tried to take a picture to show the wind, see the trees bending below:
Not much scenery on this stretch ....
From where I came and where I was heading. There are many of these types of signs indicating where cities are all over Morocco. Very easy to navigate.
A little flora....
This was a really cool bridge, I am mad I did not get a better photo. It was hard to see using my iPad against glare of the sun. The lake in the background is man-made. There was a big dam.
Hotel room in Tetouan had this under glass on the desk. I assume it is pointing to Mecca indicating which way to face when Muslims pray.
Many restaurants in Morocco tried to be overly fancy, with minimal offerings. This one gave me a menu and the first 5 things I asked for, they said they did not have. Ended up with this Tuna salad.
III. Tetouan, Morocco to Ceuta, Spain
As mentioned before, Ceuta is Spanish territory, set on "main land" Morocco. I was looking forward to this ride as it took me down the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. My first view of the water:
Am I in Portland? Marked bike lanes for the last 25-30 miles of my ride. So nice after a week on the shoulder of Moroccan roads.
Stopping for a break along the water.
A close up map of Ceuta.
This is a stock photo of the Ceuta border crossing. I wanted to take a picture, but there were "no photo" signs. It was chaotic - Moroccans who live in the north of Morocco are free to enter and exit Ceuta. Many do for work and to buy things to resell in Morocco. The crossing was a mass of humanity. But being on a bike I just weaved to the front of the line and I was through customs and into Spain in under 5 minutes.
My first view of Ceuta, Spain. I immediately saw people jogging with their shirt off, drinking beer, etc... Quite a difference from a few feet away in Morocco.
IV. Ceuta, Spain to Algeciras, Spain (via ferry)
My ferry to main-land Spain coming in to dock. Some people who traveled Morocco by motorcycle are in the shot.
Above motorcycle people took a photo of me. Last day wearing man-capris (pants were required in Morocco).
The underbirth of the ferry. Two other people traveling by bicycle also boarded. They are going Morocco to England. They were not talkative...maybe they had a long day. One of their bikes is on the left, mine on the right.
My ferry docked at Algeciras, Spain. One great part of traveling by bike is that you often encounter the unexpected. Algeciras was having a huge street festival. Poster for the festival:
Young kids gathering a few blocks from the festival....probably too cool to go where the adults are.
First post-Morocco beer.
Pictures of the festival. I did not do a good job of capturing the crowds. They had many tents set up as bars. People waited in line to get into these tents. I estimate 30,000 people in the center of town. Loud music, liquor, etc...