Gusts of salt-filled air blow sharply against my face as I gaze across the open water. We’re onboard the ferry that will take us from Algeciras, Spain, across the 36-mile Strait of Gibraltar, to the shores of northern Africa. In the distance I spot the strip of thin coastline where soon, for the first time in my life, I’ll set foot on African soil and begin my exploration of Morocco.
On African Soil
As the ferry moves closer, I begin to make out details along the coast. From here, the African continent looks much like Spain with its rolling hills and green farmland, fields of winter wheat, and a little colorful village in the distance. I even make out several large windmills, the blades being turned slowly by the wind. It’s late April, and the air blowing inland makes for the perfect riding temperature.
Our trip is a joint effort between two organizers: IMTBIKE, located in Spain, and Blue Rim Tours, the sister company of RoadRUNNER magazine. Our group of 14 riders—along with our guide, Scott, and support-van driver, Roger—will be traveling Morocco’s legendary cities and diverse rural landscapes in the saddles of our BMW GSs. And I, for one, cannot wait to get started.
Once we disembark, we head for border control where luck accompanies us—no line today. With our passports checked and stamped, we’re ready to ride.
Rabat to Marrakesh
After a long day of riding to reach our hotel in the capital city of Rabat, we wake the next morning to overcast gray skies, and opt to wear rain gear. We leave the town and follow R401, a winding road through hills of green meadows speckled with bright red poppies, and I’m reminded of Dorothy’s encounter in The Wizard of Oz. But there’s no napping for us! Overnight rain has left little lakes next to the road. A handful of camels, and small herds of sheep and cattle graze in pastures, escorted by their shepherds. The street meanders through the hills before the terrain flattens and the road is lined with olive and eucalyptus trees. The landscape is breathtaking.
Our first stop is at the market square in Romani for some locally grown tea. Brewing, as well as drinking, mint tea is a ritual people perform several times throughout the day here. The mint tea is served in a teapot and then poured from a height of approximately 12 inches into small glasses. This artful technique looks simple, but there’s much practice in the mastery. We sip the hot, sweet tea and enjoy the invigorating smell of the mint leaves.
A group of teenage boys approaches us, interested in our motorcycles. We are as curious about them as they are about us. We try to communicate in French, filling in with hand gestures as needed.