December 24, 2009 Marrakech, MA, Morocco

Sick in Ijoukak

by Christian , published on December 24, 2009

distance: 46.15km
duration: 7h 59min

After a rough night...
At noon we had finally packed up and got back on the road in full rain-gear as the weather was still changeable.
Riding with a grey sky is always a dull experience and the brown landscape didn't offer too many sights, beeing also pretty grumpy didn't help either. But after few kilometers my temper settled and i strived to be a bearable travel-companion for Daniela.
Not much curios happened as long as there was daylight, it was already getting dark and we couldn't find any good place to stay(No villages or flat land for some 30km) so we had to struggle to reach Ijoukak, the next bigger village on the map.It's always thrilling to not know where to stay when traveling in the evening, especially when you are on a bike on a narrow street in a mountain valley, a steep rise to the left and a deep canyon with a high tide river to right.
It had rained a lot in the days before and this had left stones and mud on the street, though not so much to cause any serious trouble. The expectation to finally see the goal after the next turn drove us forward. Many turns later there was still no sight of the village-lights. It was already pitch black night when we approached a fast flowing stream, running right across the street.
After a short examination it was clear that it would be rather difficult and possibly dangerous to cross it with the heavy bikes. We where standing there for a few minutes, elaborating how to cross, when a excavator that had been moving rubble a few hundred meters on the other side turned its glaring headlights towards us and approached us.
It crossed the stream, stopped 2 meters in front of us and moved it's hydraulic arm to ground level - obviously an invitation to help us with the crossing. I lifted my bike into the shovel and jumped in myself. A roar from the diesel motor turned the shovel upwards, the vehicle started to move and a minute later i was safely dropped on the other side of the creek. The kind operator of the heavy machine repeated this procedure with Daniela and her bike and we where able to continue our ride with dry feet within minutes.
We thought we where close, but this sign only indicated the district border with 2 hours to go to the village of Ijoukak
After another dozen kilometers we finally reached Ijoukak where we where lead to Amad, the owner of a guest room and a small cafe. The guest room was furnished with a typical arabian sofa - rows of padded stools along the walls, with tea-tables in the middle. Since our start in Marrakech the temperature had dropped and was in the low 10s, so it was rather cold and the room had no heater(Which we didn't expect). But there was a hot shower(Which later turned out to be a thinly dripping joke of a shower - still it was hot) and we where delighted after two straining days on the road, at least a proper, dry stay and the opportunity to wash ourselves. It was Christmas eve.

I had already been pretty weak in the afternoon and when i was trembling after the shower it was clear i had catched a cold. We went downstairs to have supper but i soon realized that it had hit me a lot harder than expected. I was freezing and just wanted to lay down, so after having just eaten a few bites of the glibbery egg omlette i went back upstears to slip into my sleeping bag, Daniela covered me with a thick layer of several wool blankets, my teeth where chattering and i was breaking out in cold sweat.
Amad, our hospitable host was concerned, asked how i felt and later brought us a clay jug filled with glowing and sizzling charcoal that offered at least a bit of warmth. That's the last picture i remember from the evening as i soon passed away into disturbing, feverish dreams.
Judging by Danielas travel journal, it must have been a pretty bad evening for her. Her boyfriend and travelparnter passed out in a unsettling rash of fever, spending the christmas eve lonely in a cold, spartan room in a little village in the midst of the Atlas Mountains, her thoughts on happier Christmas eves she had spend with her extended family in a warm room around a green tree and the smell of gingerbread and candles.