Friday, 27 December 2013
Day 56 - Casablanca to Casablanca+49k
I woke up at about 5.30 so I could have a shower and toilet time before 6.30 breakfast buffet. Buffet was good considering the price of the hotel similar selection to yesterday but no buffet security casting a frown over us so we stayed ages and ate loads. Also filled some empty yoghurt pots with salt and pepper from the table. The hotel also had a computer, so inevitably had a facebook session updated, even managing to update my profile picture as I couldn't do this on the iPad. We eventually left at around about 11 after a group hug. Chris had sourced a bike shop over breakfast so we headed there, planning to get the chain whip and be on our way within a few hours or so. After asking for directions we got there and it the shop had changed address to somewhere else in the city. Chris called the phone number and explained the situation. The owner suggested we got a taxi there. This led to Mark and Tom staying put with all the stuff whilst and me and Chris got a taxi to the new shop location with the shop owner explaining to the taxi driver where to go over the phone. He taxi ride was fun and the music was on - Daft Punk - 'Get Lucky' was playing :). The roads got more chaotic as we neared the centre. After about 20 minutes we were at the bike shop (me having memorised the route so we could avoid having to pay for another taxi to get back). The taxi was 20 dirhams (about £2.50). We went into the shop and the owner wasn't very helpful, didn't have what we needed and didn't think we could find what we needed anywhere. We asked if he knew any other cycle shops and he pointed us in the right direction. We got there and although the shop was very old and ghetto the mechanics were friendly and really wanted to help. We went downstairs into the basement to try and find a chain whip as the guys didn't understand what we were looking for. The basement was dark and dingy with tools and parts lying around everywhere. There were maybe 3 motorbike chain whips we asked if they had any bicycle chain whips and they didn't. This led into a lengthy conversation with them saying we didn't need a chain whip and we should bring the bike in so they could prove this. I was tempted to go along with them or buy the motorbike chain whip but Chris wasn't happy and wanted to continue looking elsewhere. So we carried on going in the direction we had previously been suggested. We soon found another motorbike/cycle shop. This one looked much more promising as they had a lot of stuff stacked on several aisles of shelves like a warehouse most of it was motorbike stuff but they had a fair amount of cycle stuff too. After a lengthy period trying to explain what a chain whip was, and looking through all the tools we concluded that they didn't have one. One guy called Nijit at the shop who spoke very good English was extremely helpful and offered to take us to his friend who was a cyclist and should know where to get the chain whip. Before this we managed to find a correct sized replacement tyre each for Chris and Tom (these had proven very hard to come across in both Spain and Morocco) costing the equivalent of about 2.50 each. We also managed to get a custom made bike cover for all three bikes, which we planned to use in the desert to stop sand blowing in the chain and gears if it was windy overnight). I asked about some packaging tape on the side and was given a few rolls for free which would be needed for boxing the bikes up in Dakhla. After a while we left the shop with Nijit and we waited by the side of one of the main junctions for a taxi. The traffic was ridiculous- noisy, smelly and very much a case he who dares wins/survival of the fittest. We had to wait a long time for a taxi as most of them were in use and those that weren't didn't seem to want to pick us up. Eventually we got into a taxi and drove even deeper into the city. Chris was a bit concerned about a guy he had noticed that was apparently watching us when we were waiting on a scooter and now appeared to be following us. This only lasted very briefly and soon the guy on the scooter had turned off somewhere else. After 20-30 mins we got to Nijit's friend's house and met him. He showed us a lovely Italian racing bike he had managed to pick up from one of the local markets for around £450 - the bike was clearly worth in excess of £1000. We then squeezed into his tiny car and drove to the shop where we should be able to get the chain whip. By this time I was extremely hungry and tired due to the poor air quality so ended up dozing off in the car. We got there after what seemed like a long time - Chris went to the shop to sort out the chain whip whilst I went in search of food. I was able to get a load of 'Top Cookies' (small packs of cookies that cost virtually nothing and became a big part of my Moroccan diet) and juice. Chris then came along with a big smile on his face - he managed to get the bicycle chain whip for free (a very kind man in a cycle shop had given him one). All we needed now was the correct sized spanner for the cassette nut. So we got back in the car and headed towards some more shops. The third shop we tried had what we needed so we were sorted. We drove back to Nijit's friends house, said goodbye to him before going to Nijit's house, meeting his son and driving back to rejoin Tom and Mark. We talked about football during the drive and got to know each other. We dropped the son off at the gym en route. Eventually we reunited with Tom and mark. I asked Nijit where i could get a Moroccan hand flag that i could attach to the back of the bike. He said he would go and get me one. Mark and Tom were relieved to see us and Mark especially was eager to get going . They had been sat in the same cafe for about six hours. The owner was very friendly and was more than happy for us to sit there and eat our own food and he even gave us some free water. Then Nijit came back not with one flag but with four (1 for each of us). We said goodbye to Nijit and started the days cycling at what must have been at least 4pm. The coastal road was nice and we saw a good beach whilst still in Casablanca. Our aim was to cover approx. 80km to the next town of El Jadida. About 40km in Chris got another broken spoke. Today had virtually been a write off. Thankfully we were in a small town and one of the locals led us to a mechanic/shack to get the spoke sorted. There were crowds of people around I got a load of food from the shop whilst waiting and started eating to the disapproval of some of the locals. Chris was clearly not keen on the way the bike was being fixed but he had to let them get on with it as there was no other option. After maybe 45 minutes the spoke was done and we could carry on. The repair cost 50 dirhams. It was getting dark so we decided we would stop wherever we could find somewhere to stay or even somewhere decent to camp. As time passed there wasn't anything very suitable. I wanted to push on through the dark to El Jadida as there would be a hotel there. Mark wanted to camp in a field by the side of the road. Tom didn't fancy the idea of camping and Chris wasn't that fussed either way. We carried on in the hope we would find somewhere to stay or at least somewhere decent to camp a bit further on. We then came across a large housing complex in the middle of nowhere. It was guarded and had barriers to let the cars in/out. We went and asked about if we would be able to stay in one of the apartments. The guards said no as it wasn't a hotel. We asked if we could camp on their grass they again said no. I wanted to push on as thought we were wasting our time. Then one of the guards invited Chris inside he complex. We didn't know what was going on. After a pretty lengthy wait Chris came out and told us met a woman who owned one of the flats and she was prepared to let us stay there for 500 dirhams for the night. This was a great result. The woman was going to Casablanca for a few days and was just leaving with the family so we had a short wait for them to vacate before we could move in. We had to slot our bikes in the bicycle stand in the car park (tricky with the Extrawheel's) before entering the flat under the watchful eye of the security guard. The flat was very nice with 2 single beds and a few sofas to sleep on, good kitchen with food we could eat, warm shower but with no screen. Inevitably the bathroom was flooded after showering so I had the tedious task of soaking the water up with a sponge and ringing it out in the shower tray until everywhere was dry. We had to be out at 5.30 the following morning so we found some food in the fridge and had that for dinner, and went to bed about 11pm. I set my alarm for 4am.