As we’ve now had visitors from over 100 countries (which is very exciting, and heartening) and as quite a few of you have only recently started visiting the site, we thought now would be a good time to say hello to new visitors, welcome, and we hope you enjoy following our journey over the next couple of years.
This is lifted from our newsletter (you can sign up for the very sporadic newsletters here), which was written one month ago in Agadir, Morocco. Since then, we’ve made it to Laayoune in Western Sahara, where we’ve been waiting for the delivery of a parcel for a couple of weeks before continuing across the Sahara to Mauritania and Senegal:
So, we’ve made it to Morocco. Which, when we left the UK in March, seemed an epic task in itself. Exhausted from all the preparations, we were uniquely unfit, had done no training at all (in Bex’s case, no exercise since about 2002) and had never sat on our new bikes before. The start of a 24,000-kilometre expedition through 30-odd African countries? No, the first day was just a terrifying struggle to cycle the 37 kilometres from Steyning to Bognor Regis. We made it, and the next day we made it to Portsmouth and onto the ferry, and the day after that we woke up in France. I still suspect those first two days will be among the hardest of this trip (we may have to lie and say things like “Sahara” instead of “Bognor” if we’re ever asked).
France. Fine food, good roads, plush campsites and generous tailwinds
helped us amble along happily and very slowly (I’m sure the two states are related) down the Atlantic coast and across southern France to the Mediterranean, carefully avoiding mountains all the way. Gradually our bodies remembered how to turn the pedals in perpetual small circles and our minds adjusted to the demands and pleasures of being back in the saddle. We left France carrying about 14 kilos less (body) weight than we started with, and with only one baguette-related injury.
The ferry from Sete (France) to Tangier (Morocco) was where, in our minds, the journey – and certainly the sound recording side of it – really began.
Tangier greeted us with a sensory feast of noise, colour, smell and capricious traffic: we were in Africa! We pedalled into a Morocco that seems to be changing fast, leading to the intertwining of tradition and modernity in hundreds of small and often improbable ways.
From Tangier to Agadir we’ve cycled exactly one thousand kilometres, following the coastal road over the edge of the unavoidable and very beautiful Atlas mountains, which separate the populous side of Morocco from the desert. The landscape gets more arid and more stunning by the day, and the people and weather get warmer; we don’t feel very far at all from the Sahara now.
Probably because we’re not. We’re just a few hundred kilometres from Western Sahara (a disputed Saharan territory annexed by Morocco in the 1970′s) and from there we’ll be cycling into Mauritania. The road across the Sahara has recently been asphalted, opening it up to overlanders like us, but there will be dunes, and 50 degree heat, and 250-kilometre gaps between water points.
We’ll let you know how we get on.
That’s the short(ish) version. The full version – with galleries, wildlife
sound recordings, interviews with people we’ve met, the two of us wittering into a microphone and, soon, micro-blogging from the Sahara – is on the website, obviously.
All the best to everyone,
Huw and Bex