I recently spent two weeks exploring, mountain biking, and surfing my way through Morocco with Made By Adventure. While traveling, I wrote stories, experiences, and thoughts down each day in a tiny little journal. Here’s a bit from said journal. Hopefully it’s more coherent and legible than the original.
A nausea-induced and fear-stricken car ride from Marrakech to Asni brought us to our first mountain village souq. The hustle and bustle on this Saturday morning was nothing but intense. We walked through an endless supply of vibrant vegetables, which I’m sure will all be turned into an amazingly delicious tagine later that evening. Olives. Nuts. Freshly butchered meats. Cow’s heads flung over the shoulder of a young man. Yes, just the heads. Clearly, it was just another Saturday souq for this community. Though it was a very new, unique experience for me. Our weekly Boulder farmer’s markets don’t quite compare.
From the souq, we continued up a bit deeper into the mountains to a cafe and mountain bike company to get our bikes fitted over a round of traditional Moroccan mint tea. The tea was sweetened with enough sugar and honey to attract (and drown) literally every nearby bee and fly. The village street was still bustling—cars, donkeys, motor bikes, and people of every age on feet. Kids looked on as our group of women strapped on helmets and pulled on our gloves. We adjusted seats, changed out pedals and saddles, made sure the brakes worked, and broke a few chains. As soon as I clipped in ready to go, the rain started.
Our first challenge was to climb to the top of the pass. Kilometers of constant incline without any reprieve. The switchbacks were intense—very sharp and quite steep at times. We passed donkeys, sheep, and strong, bad-ass women with corn strapped to their backs in the pouring rain and mounting wind gusts. As we climbed, our attention turned away from the scenery and culture and moved into an intense focus and death grip needed to stay on our bikes as the gusts came whipping through the mountains. At one point, I was legitimately blown uphill without the need to pedal, so you can imagine the force behind this wind.
It didn’t take long for us to become completely soaked from head to toe. Water pooled in our shoes and our chamois soaked up every drop in sight. I wrung out my gloves several times just so they could soak up more rain. Doesn’t make much sense looking back. We were no longer worried about getting wet in the puddles and stream crossings. Only worried that the streams may become impassable as the storm continued.
Once we reached our spot for lunch—a gite shortly beyond the top of the pass— the wind and rain became even more relentless. it very much felt as if we were in the midst of a hurricane. But you know, like a mountain hurricane. The traditional mud walls of our gite, however, kept us safe and dry from the storm outside.
We ate lunch as we tried to warm up before continuing on to the next leg of our journey for the day. Except, with the amount of rain and wind still pounding down, our guide explained that the singletrack we were very much looking forward to would be too dangerous and that the road wasn’t a great alternative. He advised us to hop in the van after lunch and head down into the village where we’d be spending our first night in the mountains. We obliged, crammed into our janky, yet trustworthy?, van and experienced one of the most terrifying drives of my life. We all made it down safely despite the exposure, flooding roads, and forceful gusts.
Fortunately, our day one adventure wasn’t over just yet. We strapped our packs to the back of a donkey and hiked up a loose, steep climb to where we’d be spending the night to prep and rest for our second day of The Berber Traverse.