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  • campbell987

Stage 3 - sailors adage not always accurate

Daybreak saw some very minor drizzle as we rolled up the tents and breakfasted. I got away in good time, well before 7:00 this morning, and once on the correct road heading north, very quiet, occasional farm vehicles passing by with usually a friendly wave. A big surprise to me at least (admittedly being completely ignorant of Morocco) is the scope and variety of agriculture here. Yesterday saw bananas and various berries, today grapes, potatoes, avocados, corn all identifiable in the fields. Potatoes being harvested by hand, too (missed that photo op, unfortunately).

Some of the larger towns passed through have retained what I’d describe as colonial architecture, featuring wide avenues with palm trees lining both sides as well as the ornate old buildings. An abrupt change from the intensive farming on either side.

Traffic picked up considerably after a couple of hours, more than was pleasant; potato(?) trucks mixed in with gravel trucks hauling from a quarry passed back a ways. Lots of dust, torn up roads, and puddles. Awesome.

Sweeping views westward of the Atlantic.

Climbing up to a doublet set of ridges afforded more views… not at all what I’d think of as Africa but more like Europe in places, or even California. Also really good views of an imminent change in the weather; strong westerly wind all morning now bringing on some very dark grey clouds, rain already visible. Oh oh.

The rain, turning to hail, came faster than I was able to get on my jacket in the wind. Not a lot of cover up on this ridge. The downhill run after that squall, which turned out to be intense but luckily short, was a little uncomfortable with water and grit pouring across the road, especially on the curves.

A quick run into the valley and we were onto new pavement, another town and onward to the lunch stop in sunshine, set up beachside. Time to refuel and get warm.

Only about 2-3 hours after lunch to get to the campsite in Tangier. Strong westerly winds helped a lot, mostly from behind. Lots of beach front developments but construction on many seemingly abandoned, with several being clearly derelict.

Close to Cap Spartel, we again started climbing, perhaps 300 m, cutting northwest toward Tangier. Passed through some extremely luxurious-looking estates, at least looking so given the high walls and manicured verges on the outside, increasing traffic all the while. Then a really steep dive down into Tangier itself wondering how anyone plotted this route, thru narrow alley ways and rutted lanes. A very quick run along some avenue, sharp right turn onto the steepest bit of tarmac I’d ever encountered, anywhere. Had to be approaching 20%; walked the steepest section before one of my weaving manoeuvres caused a crash, and even that walking uphill proved problematic. But eventually made it to hilltop campsite, distinguished by a very flat bench of ground for the tents, shower (tepid being a charitable description), working Wi-Fi and oodles of power points to re-charge everyone’s assorted gizmos and battery banks. Not to mention a fabulous view.

Time to decompress and clean up before dinner (featuring barbecued chicken with zucchini’s and red peppers tonight), then it’s a fall into bed and listen to evening prayers across town. Wind very blustery.

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