A well earned rest day today, after all that climbing up and down mountains. Tafroute is a smallish town, a kind of market town, which has a very French character to it, lots of cafes and a pleasant square. The hotel was good, although not very populated, and it also had a bar with beer and wine. Lots of staff hanging about ready to do anything for you. I think employment in this part of the world is a very precious thing, so you get people doing all sorts of small jobs, and being grateful for having a job at all. So, we were well looked after.
On the rest day proper, the 9th February, we explored the town a bit more, mostly the souk, admiring the whole array and variety of stalls - shoes, cookery, tagine pots, haberdashery, and then carpets, where one of our US companions invested in some lovely hand made carpets to have shipped home. The carpets were lovely, but I just wouldn’t know where to put one; it would mean having to throw something out ! So, I resisted. I was much more taken by the meat stalls in the souk. All very basic, with the usual lamb and beef, and especially chickens which were being slaughtered to order there and then. One stall I saw seemed to specialise in offal and all the odd bits and pieces of animals that we would never see in our butchers. That really interested me ! Whether I would want to try out some of them, I am not sure. But, they certainly eat the whole animal here when they slaughter it.
Then we went out a bit from the town for a picnic, provided by our wonderful cooks, and good it was too. The spot was some painted rocks, which I thought might be thousands of years old, but was in fact a more recent instalment by some artist. Not much to write home about. One rock formation along the way was called Le Chapeau de Napoleon, and really did look the Buonaparte’s hat. Every now and again, a monster of a truck would pull up, something that you would find crossing the Sahara, with retired aged erstwhile hippy German / French / Swedish / Swiss travellers, churning up the ground and generally looking not environmentally friendly.
The rest day gave an opportunity to clean and tune bicycles and do some laundry and rest up. The cycling has generally included a lot of climbs, thousands of feet up a mountain side of switchbacks, and has been hard work. A long descent is very welcome, but so often it only means having to climb back up again.
My fellow cyclists are companionable enough, and generally everybody gets along. We eat together in the evenings and there is bonhomie amongst us. They are a well travelled group, I guess self-selecting travelling cyclists, who do this kind of thing each year for their holiday and going far and wide. I think I have been fortunate with the mix of characters. And they with me ! However, I’m not sure it is my preferred mode of cycling. I prefer to be independent and to make my own plans and my own decisions and sort out my own problems. Each to their own.
DAY 5 - Tafraoute Rest Day
DAY 6 - Tafraoute -Agadir
DAY 7 - Agadir - Immouzer
Day 8 - Immouzer - Marrakesh
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