The most-often asked question I’ve heard since returning from a 10 day motorcycle tour around Morocco: How was the food? The food was amazing. Simple and traditional would be the best way to describe it.
Our guide Tim assured us that all of the places we would eat on this trip were “safe” as he and his staff only took clients to clean and reputable establishments, and the key was to avoid drinking the tap water. That would also apply to ice, or eating leafy salads washed in tap water. Pretty much the same ground rules as if you were going to Mexico. I guess our candy-ass western stomachs can’t handle the bugs in the water, which is why I brought an emergency prescription for Cipro, just in case.
Back to the food. Most days, we had a simple euro-style breakfast consisting of coffee and tea, fresh squeezed orange juice, bread with butter and jam. On some days we also were offered Moroccan pancakes which were thin and light, more like a crepe. Closer to the city of Marrakech, we had yogurt, but way out on the route, there was none to be had. Lunches were usually at cafes chosen by Tim along the route, and most often we ate Brochettes of lamb, chicken and beef, always accompanied by heaping plates of hot frites. Another common lunch item was Tajine (also spelled Tagine, or Tajin). Tajine refers to the meal, as well as the traditional earthenware dish it is cooked in. The dish is a shallow baking dish with a volcano-like cover, that seals in all the juices while the contents are being baked or cooked over an open fire. We had many varieties of Tajine along the route. The main ingredient is usually chicken or Kefta (meatballs made from seasoned ground lamb), usually with a couple eggs cracked over the topped.
Dinners consisted of traditional Cous Cous, usually with a meat and steamed vegetables, and accompanied by a broth to pour over your pile. Sometimes we had simply seasoned pasta, and one time we had an interesting salad made up of cooked rice and tuna, garnished with all sorts of vegetables. After awhile, we got used to the plates of green and black olives that would always be offered prior to the meal. I got used to Steve always asking for vinegar. Desserts were usually cold and fresh local melon slices, very refreshing. But by the end of the trip, I think I may have had one too many servings of Tajine, and I was looking forward to a big El Chubasco burrito in Park City. The Cipro stayed in my travel bag, as any disturbances in the force were minor.
Prior to the Morocco moto trip, I wrote a piece about the North Face Basecamp Duffle Bag. As you may or may not be aware, traveling to a foreign country with bulky moto gear (helmet, boots, pressure suit, spare goggles, riding pants, etc.) could fill up a normal size travel bag real quick. I needed something to get my gear across the pond, then once there, fold down and be out of the way. Because of that, I opted to not go with a wheeled rigid frame bag.
So how did the North Face Basecamp Duffle perform? First of all, if I did it all over again, I would have opted for the size Large rather than the XL. Why? Because the bigger the bag, the more shit you bring. You fill the bag until it’s full, it’s human nature. A size Large would have been adequate. As a result, I brought too much shit (and forgot the one thing I had a hard time doing without, which was a pair of sandals). Also, due to the behemoth size of my gear, compounded by the weight of extra stuff that I didn’t use, the XL pack was quite cumbersome to lift up and use the backpack straps, making me slightly envious of 2 of my slacker cohorts who used a pair of modern inventions called wheels to gently drag their sleds wherever they needed to go. Literally, the OGIO bags they brought are called “The Sled.”
I can’t be more pleased with the quality and construction of the North Face Base Camp Duffle, though, and if you are a big bag type person and you want it to last forever, I’d buy another one of these in a heartbeat (full disclosure: that’s an affiliate link up there, so if you click it and end up buying one, we’ll make something like $1.23, which will go towards a bag of Skittles on our next moto adventure).
By far, one of the most surreal experiences of our Morocco trip was arriving at a Bivouac (Steve: B-I-V-O-U-A-C) in the middle of the dunes. It was at the end of one of our longest days, partly due to an extra long lunch break to wait for the sand storms to die down. After we arrived, we chilled (not really) with some cold Flag Especiale beers and Cokes in the main tent of the bivouac for an hour or so, then remounted the bikes for a little instruction by Tim Skilton and closely monitored playtime in the dunes. We waited until the sun started to recede and the temperature dropped, which supposedly allowed the sand to firm up. Tim described riding the dunes like piloting a boat. Hang way back and twist the throttle, and you would plane above the sand with a little luck. Relax the throttle hand, and the front end of the bike would dive deep into the sand. The next day, we left early to avoid the heat on a route that would skirt the dunes, but our newfound sand riding technique would come in quite handy, as there was plenty of it as we followed a ghost of a 4×4 route to the dry bed of Lake Iriki. It was here that Tim promised we would stop for tea in a most peculiar place.
Deal O’ The Day
Words I’ve Heard
"I'm not a businessman. I'm a business, man." --Jay-Z
"The only thing keeping us from going is leaving." --Ewan Mcgregor
"Adventures suck, when you're having them." -- Anonymous Rally Car Driver
"It is, absolutely, without question, unequivocally, about the bike. Anyone who says otherwise is obviously a twatwaffle."--RULE #4, Velominati.com
"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake."--W.C. Fields