The Fat Kid Diaries: Week 68. High in the Atlas Mountains.

A week in which Morocco has continued to amaze; started with the Fat Kid almost freezing himself to death attempting to summit the highest peak in North Africa without much more than a lot of enthusiasm, and ended with the treat of exploring the souqs and alleyways of Marrakesh with great friends…the contrasts, that seem to define Africa, once again could not have been bigger!

It was also another fairly exhausting week on the bike itself, and the end of a long couple of months of hard going on the roads of west and north Africa, and thus the decision to give the back in particular (and body, mind and soul in general!) a brief break this coming week to attend/attend to a few important personal matters (a lot of ‘reflection’ time on the bike tends to remind one what’s important in life!), and at the same get some professional chiropractic treatment, all while waiting for the seemingly elusive Algerian visa, means that there will also be a brief break in the diaries for a week or so…please bear with the Fat Kid!

Ending: Sat 18 Oct 2014
Starting point: Southern Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Ending point: Marrakesh, Morocco (including some big and exciting detours!)
Approx. Km’s covered: 410km

Some selected highlights:

  1. A day off the bike to climb Toubkal, the highest (and surely coldest!) peak in north Africa…beauty beyond description.
  2. A visit from Will and Sarah Davies who came out from London, and a weekend exploring the souqs, streets and eateries of Marrekesh together…great soul food! 
  3. Being introduced to, and finding, the best bike shop I’ve seen in Africa since leaving SA…Lettie almost did a back flip (fortunately without me on her)!
  4. Once again, the Atlas mountains providing some of the greatest riding imaginable.

Some challenges:

  1. The cold and icy winds at the literal top of north Africa…and a new respect for altitude! 
  2. Exhaustion…the accumulative effects of the big push of the last couple of months have eventually caught up with the Fat Kid!
  3. Finding an affordable beer in Marrakesh. 
  4. Securing an Algerian visa, as well as route planning for the next stretch through Algeria, Tunisia and Libya…some big changes to original plans in the works with all the issues in the region at the moment.

African #HumanSpirit moment of the week:

  1. The entrepreneurial spirit of the traders in the great Moroccan markets in an inspiration!

Particular thanks to (as always, in no particular order, and apologies for the inevitable omissions):

  1. Will and Sarah for the huge effort in visiting from the UK, and the laughter, banter (and Fat Kid treats!).
  2. Grant and Hannah Crews for all the huge support since before Day 1…and this time in particular for the Fat Kid treats that came out with Will and Sa!
  3. Luis Rodríguez Jiménez, aka the Spanish rock rabbit, for your company on the mountain!
  4. Everyone at the SA Embassy in Dakar, and the DHL teams in Senegal and Morocco for tracking down and delivering my very sentimental map of Africa!
  5. Everyone on email and via the Fat Kid Facebook page etc for the various introductions and offers of help…always massively appreciated. This week in particular for the all the efforts in securing a letter of invitation for an Algerian visa application.
  6. Wendy Trollip for the bike shop advice, and all your Morocco assistance in general! See you in a few weeks up north! And Leroi De Wet in Casablanca for your efforts on that front too!
  7. Mark and Debbie Ratcliffe for the ‘Fat Kid Tracking’ device sponsorship and friendship out of the US!
  8. Matthew, Yasmina and the whole amazing team at Le Meridien N’Fis in Marrekesh for the wonderfully warm welcome and generous hospitality…once again the Starwood Hotel group providing the Fat Kid a break from life in the tent just when it’s needed most!

Something random I learnt (aka a FFF or ‘Fascinating FatKid Fact’):

  1. Despite making up a significant part of the population, the Berber’s language of Amazigh was only granted ‘official language status’ in Morocco in 2011.

What I will try never take for granted again:

  1. Technically, this week, what I’ll never underestimate again: The effects of altitude…it’s not only in temperatures of over 40’C that the Fat Kid struggles to perform optimally in; he’s now discovered life at over 3500m isn’t that easy either!

Keep in touch:
Twitter @RonRutland


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