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    Archive for November, 2009

    Day 1.331 – Vagabonding Spain (photos)

    Monday, November 30th, 2009

    Málaga -> Castell de Ferro
    Distance (km) : 113
    Time on bike : 5h 08m
    Brutto time: 11.00 – 18.00
    Avg : 22.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 54.3
    Total (km) : 58.676
    Altitude: 2 m
    Difficulty: 3

    Málaga posters...

    Tune of the Day: The End – Pearl Jam

    Málaga Cathedral in morning light...

    Door on Málaga Cathedral...

    Málaga Cathedral. Impressive beast.

    Málaga Cathedral. Impressive beast.

    Leaving Málaga behind...

    Between Málaga and Nerja.

    Between Málaga and Nerja.

    Bridge over less troubled waters...

    Coast line east of Nerja, Málaga Province.

    Coast line east of Nerja, Málaga Province.

    Near Calahonda, Granada Province.

    Hey buddy!

    Goodbye day, hallo moon (and thank you for a wonderful day, again…

    Goodbye day, hallo moon (and thank you for a wonderful day, again)...

    …and the night in the changing room awaits (see tomorrow’s posting)…

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    WT Top 41 Longest Cycling Days

    Sunday, November 29th, 2009

    Numerically ordered, longest day first. Only cycling days from 150 km and above on the list.

    1. 300 km. Day 964 – 28NOV2008 Chancay -> Casma (trucksurf), Peru

    2. 226 km. Day 588 – 17NOV2007 Glendambo -> Bush camp, Australia

    3. 217 km. Day 977 – 11DEC2008 Chiclayo -> Piura, Peru

    4. 200 km. Day 570 – 30OCT2007 Ti-Tree -> Alice Springs, Australia

    5. 196 km. Day 564 – 24OCT2007 Dunmarra -> Renner Springs, Australia

    6. 193 km. Day 919 – 14OCT2008 Cochabamba -> Caracollo, Bolivia

    7. 183 km. Day 980 – 14DEC2008 Piura -> Máncora, Peru

    8. 184 km. Day 1150 – 02JUN2009 Hampton Springs -> Macclenny, USA

    9. 177 km. Day 1152 – 04JUN2009 Kingsland -> Savannah, USA

    10. 176 km. Day 1322 – 21NOV2009 Oualidia -> Casablanca, Morocco

    11. 175 km. Day 178 – 04OCT2006 Kashgar -> Charak, China

    12. 174 km. Day 146 – 02SEP2006 W of Gulistan -> Tashkent, Uzbekistan

    13. 174 km. Day 1027 – 30JAN2009 Don Matías -> Tarazá, Mexico

    14. 173 km. Day 145 – 01SEP2006 Samarkand -> Gulistan, Uzbekistan

    15. 170 km. Day 1124 – 07MAY2009 Matamoros, Mexico -> Riviera, USA

    16. 168 km. Day 47 – 26MAY2006 Brasov -> Snagov, Romania

    17. 165 km. Day 142 – 29AUG2006 Navoiy -> Samarkand, Uzbekistan

    18. 165 km. Day 1018 – 21JAN2009 Cali -> Zarzal, Colombia

    19. 164 km. Day 128 – 15AUG2006 Ganca -> Kurdamir, Turkey

    20. 163 km. Day 1143 – 26MAY2009 New Orleans -> Ocean Springs, USA

    21. 161 km. Day 947 – 11NOV2008 Puquio -> Nazca, Peru

    22. 158 km. Day 1231 – 22AUG2009 N of Eustis -> S of Auburn, USA

    23. 157 km. Day 906 – 01OCT2008 Potosí -> Sucre, Bolivia

    24. 157 km. Day 1326 – 25NOV2009 Souk-du-Rharb -> Tangier, Morocco

    25. 156 km. Day 87 – 05JUL2006 Ankara -> Sereflikochisar, Turkey

    26. 156 km. Day 1053 – 25FEB2009 Aguadulce -> 6 km W of Tolé, Panama

    27. 156 km. Day 1089 – 02APR2009 Acajutla, El Salv. -> Escuintla, Guate

    28. 156 km. Day 1222 – 13AUG2009 Trois-Riviere -> Quebec City, Canada

    29. 156 km. Day 1295 – 25OCT2009 Nouakchott -> PK320, Mauretania

    30. 155 km. Day 722 – 31MAR2008 Twizel -> Oamaru, New Zealand

    31. 154 km. Day 127 – 14AUG2006 Krasny Most, Georgia -> Ganca, Azerb.

    32. 154 km. Day 1206 – 28JUL2009 Croton-on-Hudson -> Hudson, USA

    33. 153 km. Day 152 – 08SEP2006 N of Kokand -> Fergana, Uzbekistan

    34. 153 km. Day 1251 – 11SEP2009 Techiman -> Buipe, Ghana

    35. 152 km. Day 151 – 07SEP2006 Yangi Tonqin -> Kokand, Uzbekistan

    36. 151 km. Day 1005 – 08JAN2008 Otavalo -> Tulcán, Ecuador

    37. 150 km. Day 173 – 29SEP2006 East of Karabel Pass -> Kashgar, China

    38. 150 km. Day 878 – 03SEP2008 Pituil -> Belén, Argentina

    39. 150 km. Day 949 – 13NOV2008 Nazca -> Ica, Peru

    40. 150 km. Day 1127 – 10MAY2009 Point Comfort -> Surfside Bch, USA

    41. 150 km. Day 1146 – 29MAY2009 Fort Walton Bch -> Mexico Bch, USA

    If you want to support the WT Expedition by buying one of these legendary days (in my book, anyhow), you can do so here, on the WT Hall of Fame

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    Day 1.330 – No Country For Young Wusses (UK)

    Sunday, November 29th, 2009

    Torremolinos -> Málaga
    Distance (km) : 15
    Time on bike : 0h 56m
    Brutto time: 11.30 – 12.40
    Avg : 16.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 31.9
    Total (km) : 58.563
    Altitude: 10 m
    Difficulty: ½

    Early morning at the campsite in Torremolinos...

    Nice fellow cyclists, Kerstin und Markus (Germany) and me at the campsite in Torremolinos...

    Just after this photo was taken, it started dripping from above and it stayed like that all day. Me no like heavy rain, so in Málaga, after a whopping 15 km, I called it a day. So much for the sturdy RTW-adventurer, huh…

    View from my balcony at the Down Town Backpacker's, Málaga.

    While the rain kept pouring I spent 10 (!) hours straight online, updating this site, cutting the ever-faster growing grass in my mailbox, recharging all the gadgets, listening to stories from fellow travellers at the fantastic Down Town Málaga Backpacker’s.


    …and thanks to Kerstin and Markus for their leftover cheese, butter, bread, yoghurt etc. Hope you and the bikes had a pleasant flight back to Germany…

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    Day 1.329 – Costa Del Sol – Stronghold of The European Whitewashing? (photos)

    Saturday, November 28th, 2009

    Estepona -> Torremolinos
    Distance (km) : 70
    Time on bike : 3h 49m
    Brutto time: 08.30 – 17.45
    Avg : 18.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 44.5
    Total (km) : 58.548
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 2

    Early morning camp near Estepona...

    Pleasing WT-readers in a cafe...

    Apart from a few hours of WT-updates from Cafe Milano in Fuengirola, I spent most of today trying to get past all the holiday apartments and building craze on the infamous Costa Del Sol. Parts of it was quite pretty, but not quite worth a photo. So much money in this area. So many great cars. They say this corner of Europe is the ultimate stronghold of the whitewashing machinery going on…

    Fuengirola paseo marítimo...

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    Day 1.328 – Gibraltar, The Rock (UK)

    Friday, November 27th, 2009

    Algeciras -> Estepona
    Distance (km) : 81
    Time on bike : 5h 07m
    Brutto time: 08.20 – 18.20
    Avg : 15.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 53.2
    Total (km) : 58.478
    Altitude: 1 m
    Difficulty: 2

    First wild camp back on European soil. Just outside of Algeciras.

    The Rock, Gibraltar.

    Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to give Gibraltar, The Rock a quick look. Weird thing checking out of Spain just 12 hours after I entered. This is officially The United Kingdom, as we’d all know.

    How I've missed huge and cheap supermarkets.

    Welcome to Gibraltar...

    The Rock of Gibraltar...

    Me in front of the rock and the Koga...

    Old town in Gibraltar.

    On Europa Road...

    Old town in Gibraltar.

    So British (mail box), so Dutch (my bike)...

    Shopping frenzy in Gibraltar Town...

    The huge Rock from afar...

    Fine first cycling day in Spain...

    Fine first cycling day in Spain...

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    Day 1.327 – Europe, At Last! (UK)

    Thursday, November 26th, 2009

    Tangier (MA) -> Algeciras (SP)
    Distance (km) : 9
    Time on bike : 0h 59m
    Brutto time: 12.00 – 20.20
    Avg : 8.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 32.5
    Total (km) : 58.397
    Altitude: 10 m
    Difficulty: 0

    Tangier 2009.

    Tangier ladies...

    Tangier 2009.

    Tangier 2009.

    Tangier medina and my Mamora Hotel...

    Ready for Europe!

    This piece of paper legitimately got me back to mainland Europe...

    This was my first sight of Europe in 3 years + 5 months…I didn’t cry.

    This was my first sight of Europe in 3 years + 5 months...

    My gear ready to exit the ferry, enter Europe.

    Algeciras harbour.

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    Newsletter from Tangier, Morocco (UK)

    Thursday, November 26th, 2009

    Sitting in my hotel room in Tangier at the northern tip of Morocco, just a few hours before I’ll catch a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Algeciras, Spain, I feel extremely excited that I’m going back to mainland Europe, 3 years and 5 months (or some 52.000 km) since I left it in Istanbul during the World Cup Soccer in June 2006.

    It’s impossible for me not to get emotional about the whole thing, about the fact that I’m going to pull this mad round-the-world-by-bicycle expedition off, that I’m going to finish it, finish what has been my dream and my life for the last 1.327 days. Every piece of DNA in my body knows that this is the very end of what at first (and at several times after, believe me!) seemed like an almost impossible dream of infinite asphalt, when Martin and I took off in Copenhagen, April 2006.

    Thinking about this on my way to Tangier yesterday I had a strong, emotional wave rushing through me, a wave that’s been building up inside of me possibly since I left my country, my family, my friends, and everything else. Tears (and I don’t expect them to be the last of its kind) fell on the asphalt, on the bike, my trusty, sole companion. It feels so heavy, this situation, and yet I feel immensely elevated, proud, and delighted about it all.

    A mere 11 weeks and 5.600 km after I left the Ghanaian capital Accra on the Bay of Guinea, 6 degrees north of the Equator, I’m leaving Africa, my last continent, altogether. Knowing that the next few months up through Western Europe will be the last in WT history intensifies the moment, makes me want to relish every stroke of the pedals (no matter how cold those European winter nights will be lying in my tent), and makes it all too clear to me that never again will I be as free, unconcerned, and egoistically uncommitted – or as lonely and distant (psychologically more than physically) from my beloved ones.

    I’m ready to go home. I’m ready to be home. What it will be like in Denmark after nearly 4 years on the go, what I’ll do, I’ve got not idea (well, a few maybe). That’s another challenge for another time. But I do know that I miss my family and my friends more than anything I’ve ever missed, and that’s all the reason I need to be going home (plus, yes, I’m running out of continents too!).

    Much as I’ve enjoyed this huge challenge – and I feel incredible grateful for all the moments (of joy, of challenge, of excitement, of beauty), for the places, the faces, for the perceptible and the more subtle ways that this expedition (and my contact with all facets of this wonderful world) has forever changed me (or not) – that is the WT, a seven-nation army couldn’t stop me now (maybe a freak encounter with an extraordinarily fine Andalusian beauty could make me consider pulling the breaks, thogh). I’m going home.

    Even my bike has been eager to get back to Europe lately. Yesterday, e.g. saw us flying north along the Atlantic coast with an average of 24 km/h over 157 km, and my bike’s behaving like a mule that rapidly and semi-automatically is headed for the barn after a long days’ work in the fields. Don’t blame the bike: No matter how you look at it, 58.389 km is a long day’s work.

    Now if you’d excuse me for a second. I’ve got a ferry to catch and a (last) bit of cycling to do. I will get back to you at some point, but do expect long delays and silences.

    Thanks for the attention, thanks for letting me have someone to share this adventure with, thanks for your perpetual support and encouragement.

    Nicolai

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    Day 1.326 – Chuck Norris At The End Of African Territory (UK)

    Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

    Souk-el-Arba-di-Rharb -> Tangier
    Distance (km) : 157
    Time on bike : 6h 36m
    Brutto time: 07.00 – 16.00
    Avg : 24.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 51.1
    Total (km) : 58.389
    Altitude: 20 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    Sunrise over northern Morocco...

    It’s another early-bird start for me, leaving the village with the not-so-easy name Souk-el-Arba-di-Rharb before sunrise. Seemed like those villagers had never seen a white man before, and so I spent a few hours last night, munching my way through town, while the male part (being the only part) of the townspeople kept staring incessantly at me.

    One guy even tried talking to me. Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris! he exclaimed as he saw me pedaling into town.

    Morning jedis

    Agriculture near Larache, Morocco.

    Agriculture near Larache, Morocco.

    This is Chuck Norris…

    Tired, dirty, and content in Tangier - last port of call in Africa...

    As my newsletter stated, it’s a very emotional thing for me having arrived here in Tangier, the last port-of-call on African soil.

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    Day 1.325 – Conditions Are Perfect (UK)

    Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

    Rabat -> Souk-el-Arba-di-Rharb
    Distance (km) : 114
    Time on bike : 4h 57m
    Brutto time: 10.30 – 16.30
    Avg : 23.0 (yeah!) km/h
    Max.speed: 40.2
    Total (km) : 58.231
    Altitude: 30 m
    Difficulty: 3

    What do you do when you wanna go sightseeing and get going at the same time?

    Rabat architecture...

    You apply the good old business deal, 2-for-1, to the day and do both. I’m up early (Moroccans seem to be one bunch of sleepyheads), head for the massive and dead-quite (pun unintentional) cemetery next to the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Enormous graveyard in Rabat.

    As always, it’s an eerie sight looking at thousands of symmetrical gravestones. I was always fond of cemeteries for some reason.

    Enormous graveyard in Rabat.

    Enormous graveyard in Rabat.

    Rabat kasbah entrance...

    Rabat kasbah door...

    Rabat kasbah door...

    View of Sale from Rabat's kasbah...

    Rabat kasbah alley...

    Rabat kasbah alley...

    Kasbah door...

    Rabat kasbah entrance...

    Rabat medina...

    Rabat medina...

    Rabat medina...

    Rabat medina...

    A bike, a woman, a kid.

    Hmm, fresh morning bread

    So after a few turbo hours of touring Rabat on foot, it’s back to my pink room, get packed and well before noon I’m off again, less than 18 hours after my arrival in the capital. This is how I like it. Bit of this, bit of that…(Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being promiscuous here :-) )

    Plantation north of Rabat...

    Bands of the Day: Kent and The Killers.

    Sometimes I just need a bit of good old rock in my ears, to keep the energy high.

    On their way to work?

    The road north of Rabat is flat, and for a change I’m favoured by a sweet tail/cross/no wind that makes this a fairly snappy day. Conditions are perfect (but not quite like these guys would have it).

    This is one heavy loaded truck!

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    Day 1.324 – Kundera & Pissing In Washbasins (UK)

    Monday, November 23rd, 2009

    Casablanca -> Rabat
    Distance (km) : 92
    Time on bike : 5h 16m
    Brutto time: 07.55 – 16.00
    Avg : 17.4 km/h
    Max.speed: 31.8
    Total (km) : 58.117
    Altitude: 15 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    This is how I like it!

    Palm-lined promenade in Mohammedia, Morocco.

    I get punished twice today. 1. Bad headwinds. 2. Ugly industrial suburbia north of Casablanca.

    With the strong headwinds howling and with a mind that (today) just wanna get going, it’s really hard for me to keep the motivation on my side, the frustration on the other.

    Palm-lined promenade in Mohammedia, Morocco.

    Yes, the above palm-lined shots look kind of pretty, but they say nothing about the fucking headwinds! Or the constant attention (the stupid kind, if there ever was one) from onlookers, passers-by, everyone. I try to ignore everything and everybody, by just looking ahead of me, on the white stripe on the asphalt, but I hate myself for being such a prick, for being so openly rude and rejecting, so arrogant. I don’t quite recognize myself this way, but it’s my way of surviving mentally, a protective shield.

    The other side of life...

    Rabat city walls (and the Koga).

    I make it to the capital, though. From one metropole to another. Feels great. And my pink room even has a washbasin that – as long as I’m accomodating room #2 – has a dual function as a normal washbasin and as a urinal (Mr. Kundera wasn’t right: it’s not only doctors who piss in the sink). Solo traveling has certain kinds of freedoms…

    My hotel in Rabat (aka The Pink Hotel)...

    Rabat market...

    Rabat market...

    A Wonderland.

    Rabat Skyline...

    Rabat city walls.

    Dig in!


    Please note, kids. Pissing in the sink is wrong. Don’t try it at home. People (incl. your mom and dad) might find it disgusting. It is disgusting. Your friends will mock you when they find out. And they will as kids always do. It will only the start of your personal going astray. You won’t succeed in life. Don’t do it!

    In the pink room. Rabat, November 2009.

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    Day 1.323 – At Large In Casablanca (UK)

    Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

    0 km etc.

    My room with a view in Casablanca.

    Hotel Excelsior, Casablanca.

    Casablanca, autumn 2009.

    Immediately, I fall in love with Casablanca on my early morning stroll through the center of town, the medina and wherever my itchy feet take me. Decadent, glorious, modern, falling apart, crumbling, alive, quiet, buzzing, grandiose are words that come to mind roaming at large in the city of 3.8 mio. inhabitants. I hope these visuals show my love-at-first-sight for Casablanca.

    Casablanca architecture.

    The ruined Hotel Lincoln, Casablanca.

    Volubilis Hotel, Casablanca.

    Casablanca architecture.

    Casablanca café...

    Casablanca main post office...

    Grande Place Mohammed V, Casablanca...

    Grande Place Mohammed V, Casablanca...

    Casablanca Cathedral.

    Blvd. Rashid, Casablanca.

    Casablanca medina...

    Casablanca medina...

    Casablanca medina...

    Casablanca medina...

    Casablanca medina...

    Casablanca medina...

    Casablanca medina...

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    Day 1.322 – A Bike Named Pegasus (UK)

    Saturday, November 21st, 2009

    Oualidia -> Casablanca
    Distance (km) : 176!
    Time on bike : 7h 43m
    Brutto time: 07.55 – 18.45
    Avg : 22.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 42.5
    Total (km) : 58.026
    Altitude: 30 m
    Difficulty: 4½

    I was too busy in the saddle today to take photos and notes. Didn’t want to ruin the momentum. I’m flying all day, adrenalin rushing, Koga like Pegasus, landscape apparently quite boring, but I didn’t pay too much attention so who cares anyway. Can’t believe I make it all the way to Casablanca! It wasn’t even in my wildest thoughts when I left Oualidia this morning. It’s Saturday night in Casablanca – Morocco’s premier party city (doesn’t say a lot in this Muslim country) – but I won’t be worth much after pedaling more than 4 marathons today.

    Coffee and pancakes (of sorts) in Oualidia...

    Getting ready for a new day in the saddle...

    My first forest for quite a while...

    58.000 km. South of Casablanca, Morocco.

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    Day 1.321 – Splish-Splash

    Friday, November 20th, 2009

    Safi -> Oualidia
    Distance (km) : 66
    Time on bike : 3h 36m
    Brutto time: 09.10 – 14.30
    Avg : 18.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 47.7
    Total (km) : 57.850
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 2½

    Safi medina wall/tower...

    Mosque just outside of Safi.

    Lingering in mid-air?

    Spectacular coastline north of Safi...

    Fine coastal cycling north of Safi...

    Spectacular coastline north of Safi...

    A Happy Cyclist.

    Beautiful Oualidia...

    Splish-splash

    Oualidia

    More splish-splash

    Oualidia

    More splish-splash

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    Day 1.320 – An Anachronism

    Thursday, November 19th, 2009

    Essaouira -> Safi
    Distance (km) : 122
    Time on bike : 7h 27m 27s
    Brutto time: 08.30 – 18.45
    Avg : 16.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 56.5
    Total (km) : 57.784
    Altitude: 10 m
    Difficulty: 4

    View just north of Essaouira.

    Hey fella'!

    Fine coastal cycling north of Essaouira.

    A Long Road...

    Muleposen aka The Nosebag

    Wagons

    Typical, not very interesting, Moroccan village.

    Sunset near Safi, Morocco.

    It’s not all pretty in Morocco. I even got some dubious acid rain drops in my eyes entering the city of Safi. Wrong, so wrong. Treat her well, Mother Nature.

    Entering industrial Safi...

    Anachronistically, this is yesterday’s delicious dinner in Essaouira…

    For Trina and Mike...

    Fabulous tajine viande with almonds and plums...Yumm!

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    Day 1.319 – Lovecats

    Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

    0 km etc. But lots of walking, Canon shooting, WT-updates, great food, turbo (WT style)…

    Spice pyramids...

    Simply irresistable!

    The Begging Jedi

    Essaouira medina...

    Essaouira port...

    Essaouira medina...

    I might need a bit of that stuff!

    Colours of Essaouira

    HowCanWeNotLoveCats?

    Cute, aren't they?

    Essaouira port...

    Essaouira medina...

    Hole-in-the-wall eatery...

    Another friend of mine...

    Essaouira by night...

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    New Photo Albums From Burkina Faso & Mali

    Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

    Besides wonderful Moroccan food, the odd cold beer, 0 km cycling days, cruising around the walled medina, thinking about plans for the European (and last) leg of the WT-Expedition, I’m enjoying superfast internet here in Essaouira on central Morrocco’s Atlantic coast, and thus, I’ve made some new photo albums for you (and me too).

    As always, I recommend you click the 4-arrow icon in the lower right hand corner of the album itself, to view the photos full-screen, with the text box activated. Choice is yours.

    1. Slideshow from Burkina Faso (95 photos)

    2. Slideshow from Mali (100 photos)

    You can also see the photos on Flickr (Burkina Faso pix here, Mali pix here), the usual way.

    Also, the WT-diary is fully updated too (as of Day 1.317).

    English version (with a few DK only entries) here.

    Danish version (with a few UK only entries) here.

    Nicolai (Essaouira, Atlantic Morocco)

    What Else Could Be New?

    What’s In My Bags?

    Profile update (in Danish here)

    WT Top 16 Value-For-Money Countries

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    Day 1.318 – Stop Whispering

    Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

    No gibberish today. Just visuals. This is Essaouira for you, dear WT-reader…

    Essaouira medina...

    Essaouira medina...

    Essaouira medina...

    Cat, not hungry...

    Begging, Essaouira style...

    Essaouira medina from above...

    Old Man & The Sea...

    Brekkie on top of Majestic Hotel, Essaouira.

    Tourist merchandise in Essaouira.

    Essaouira ramparts (and the jedi)

    Boats, Essaouira.

    Essaouira

    Essaouira port...

    Fishermen, Essaouira, November 2009.

    Essaouira port...

    Essaouira port...

    Seagull...

    Essaouira port...

    Essaouira port...

    Essaouira port...

    Essaouira port...

    Lunch time!

    An Essaouira Classic!

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    Day 1.317 – Ahhh, Essasouira! (UK)

    Monday, November 16th, 2009

    Tamri -> Essaouira
    Distance (km) : 115
    Time on bike : 6h 0m
    Brutto time: 08.55 – 16.30
    Avg : 19.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 50.2
    Total (km) : 57.662
    Altitude: 10 m
    Difficulty: 4

    View from my hotel's terrasse in Tamri.

    Minor incline north of Tamri...

    Lots of ups and downs again today. Three mini-passes, all around 400m, have to be climbed besides numerous climbs that all up make for a sweaty day in the saddle. Landscape is impressive and makes it all more than worthwhile.

    Incline north of Tamri, Morocco.

    North of Tamri, Morocco.

    Wild West Territory south of Essaouira.

    Tree-climbing goats!

    A bike, two flags and a donkey...

    Arriving in Essaouira after 264 km and 13 hours of riding since I left Tiznit yesterday morning, feels…well, great! I recognize the medina – where I find a cheap and simple room at Hotel Majestic (the name’s more majestic than the real deal, but the view over Essaouira from the 5th top floor terrasse is unbeatable) – from my visit with childhood friend “Box” in 2005, and for good times’ sake I track down the same bar where we used to go, and have a beer (the first cold one in some 40 days!) with a view over the harbour.

    Dry and sparsely populated...

    Logistic Reflection of the Day:
    Since I left Accra, Ghana 73 days ago, I’ve cycled 4.878 km through West Africa. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll be back in Denmark even before you can spell this word

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    Day 1.316 – Walk Down Agadir’s Memory Lanes (UK)

    Sunday, November 15th, 2009

    Tiznit -> Tamri
    Distance (km) : 149
    Time on bike : 6h 52m
    Brutto time: 08.45 – 18.45
    Avg : 21.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 44.2
    Total (km) : 57.546
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    If the day were to have an Indian tribe name, it would have to be Crazy Horse Day.

    I’m flying right from the start leaving Tiznit. The wind’s in my back (or slightly from the right, but still favourable), landscape’s empty and monotonous, traffic’s quite heavy on the shoulderless Route National 1, so no music today as I want to be able to hear vehicles from behind.

    Leaving Tiznit...

    Souss plains south of Agadir...

    In the early afternoon I reach Agadir – the 700.000 inhab. package-tourist hotspot that I visited first time in 1986. My plan as I set out this morning was to chill for a little while in Agadir, eating well, lazing etc. but once there, something spurred me to just keep going north. Though I wouldn’t mind a bit of nightlife action going on, and despite the kind contribution from Luc & Lucia in Tiznit, I felt a bit too anorectic with my money for all the glitter and glamour in Agadir. I have a quick poke at the hotel me and my family stayed 23 years ago (it’s still there!) and soon head off again.

    Agadir from the north...

    And I’m in for a visual treat, north of Agadir. Come along…

    Atlantic beach north of Agadir...

    Another great slice of Atlantic coast north of Agadir...

    Shadows in Morocco.

    Rocky hillsides near Cap Tamri.

    Cycling into the mist...

    Cycling into the mist. Near Tamri, Morocco.

    Unforgettable Atlantic sunset at Cap Tamri...

    I reach the village Tamri long after sunset, 149 km, but feel surprisingly fine after nearly 7 hours of pedalling. Crazy Horse Day…

    Unforgettable Atlantic sunset at Cap Tamri...

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    Day 1.315 – 2005 + 2009 (UK)

    Saturday, November 14th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Day off in Tiznit. I wake up way too early, with my head buzzing with thoughts, route plans, plans for the day, and other hyper stuff.

    Tiznit city walls...

    The Apple Man.

    Tiznit city walls

    As I remember from my first visit in 2005, Tiznit is a lovely, untouristy place, easily manageable by foot and full of that laid-back Moroccan every day life that I’ve always loved.

    Tiznit vendor.

    I, myself, could have asked for a bit for laid-back day off the bike today – but I get a lot of things done in the WT/Email department, and that gives a certain pleasure too…

    My room at Tiznit's Hotel Touristes...

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    Day 1.314 – My Luck With Luc & Lucia (UK)

    Friday, November 13th, 2009

    Sidi Ifni -> Tiznit
    Distance (km) : 75
    Time on bike : 4h 12m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 15.30
    Avg : 17.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 72.2
    Total (km) : 57.398
    Altitude: 224 m
    Difficulty: 2½

    I’m back. This time with more photos, less verbal crap.

    Sidi Ifni morning

    As my Michelin map promised it’s to be a beautiful cycling day along the Atlantic coast north of Sidi Ifni. It’s a winding road with endless smaller ups and downs and the wind is up and running – luckily mostly my way today, and thus a fraction of the imbalance on the wind-fairness-barometer (don’t worry, it only exists in my book) vanishes.

    Legzira Beach, north of Sidi Ifni

    Legzira Beach

    Coastal cycling south of Mirleft...

    Mirleft's northern beaches...

    The social highlight of the day (month?) is Luc & Lucia, a French/Italian couple who flag me down in the middle of nowhere from their rental car. I stop. Are You Nicolai?, Luc, the driver asks me. There’s no denying that and it soon turns out that Luc’s been following my journey for quite a while (since somewhere in Asia, as I recall it), and now we happen to meet south of Mirleft. We have a great, mentally uplifting (on my part) chat, they hand me biscuits and wet towels (with a sweet cucumber scent that has highly enlightened the inside life of my right front pannier! Thanks, Lucia) and then we part again.

    Luc & Lucia...

    Great beach south of Mirleft

    On the road to Tiznit...

    Guy on Motobecane moped

    I’m practically flying the last 15 km to Tiznit, thanks to a heavy-duty tailwind that I’ve been dreaming about for months. Fists air pumping, smile wide. I just feel like keep going through the night, but settle down in Tiznit, at the fine Hotel Touristes inside the city walls where I stayed back in December 2005 as well. Nostalgia rules.

    Tiznit City Wall

    Veiled up!

    By chance, I run into Luc and Lucia tonight again, so we find a restaurant and let the hours roll pleasantly by while we talk and talk and talk and the company’s great. At the end of the night, Luc suddenly hands me to large banknotes and explains they won’t need them since they are going back to Dublin, Ireland (where they live/work) the following day. I’m positively flabbergasted, somehow hesitantly accept the very kind offer (and God bless you both) and then we part again. Heart full – and wallet less thin.

    Tiznit sunset hour...

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    Day 1.313 – Happiness Around the Belly Button (UK)

    Thursday, November 12th, 2009

    Guelmime -> Sidi Ifni
    Distance (km) : 58
    Time on bike : 3h 11m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 13.20
    Avg : 18.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 59.1
    Total (km) : 57.323
    Altitude: 25 m
    Difficulty: 2

    The Arabic spoken here in Morocco, can hardly be accused of being beautiful. In return, the country has one of the world’s most beautiful people in the world of hospitality.

    It’s beautiful, beautiful mountain cycling all day. My legs feel full of joy as I arrive in Sidi Ifni on the Atlantic coast. Hallelujah.

    It was not until 1969 that Sidi Ifni officially passed from Spanish to Moroccan control (see more here), and particularly the older folks still speak Spanish as their first language. Thus, I’m greeted by an old wrinkled jedi warrior (he wore the classic jellaba) sitting in the shade with a buenas tardes, señor.

    At a restaurant in Sidi Ifni I’m immediately joined by a large, gray-white cat, who confidently jumps up in my lap (I wish it was always that easy) and then goes into a cat trance as soon as he pokes his nose into my sweaty bike jersey. The cat just disappears from the world – with forepaws kneading in the classic cat way – He’s like a butter soft baby in my arms, and totally forgets that he’s normally a strong alpha male.

    Apart from the cat trance, I do have time to enjoy my tajine, which makes me drool as the cat did in my bike jersey, and I am quite happy around my belly button as I leave the restaurant and find a simple room at Hotel Liberte (4 USD). Life is so much better than its reputation.

    As a tourist it requires a sustained effort and blind denial not to like Morocco as a destination. For me the country contains everything (except maybe a flourishing beer and bar culture (I haven’t had a beer for way too long!) and girls with less robes) you could ask for.

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    Day 1.312 – Zülle’s Erection (UK)

    Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

    Tan Tan -> Guelmime
    Distance (km) : 129
    Time on bike : 6h 53m
    Brutto time: 08.30 – 17.45
    Avg : 18.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 59.4
    Total (km) : 57.265
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 3½

    The flags hang limply outside at the Royal Palace a stone’s throw from my hotel this morning. I, however, get a mental erection looking at those flags that mean zero wind. Brilliant.

    At the gas station in Tan Tan I put so much air in the tubes that I risk getting a tube volvulus. The tires are rock hard. In the same operation I clean the chain and derailleur (which have gathered a Little Sahara lately) with the pressurized air. This is going to be good …

    It is a fantastic cycling day. The joy of riding is back, inversely proportional to the headwinds that have taken a nosedive and only wake up – with one eye – in the afternoon, but it never becomes a nuisance today. Beautiful, naked wild west-scenery all around me, that especially the many shorter ascents and descents testify.

    My fists keep pounding victoriously into the air (there was no victory, just a feeling!) much the same way they’ll do lots of time next summer – God willing.

    I pass two small coffee houses where I fill up the water bottles, coffee and yogurt goes in the stomach, but otherwise I see no settlements at all during the day.
    I’m reminded why I am so fond of Morocco. The colors of the endless landscape, the climate, and the insane hospitality and kindness, I meet everywhere, to name just a few reasons.

    Sunset hour as I get closer to Guelmim (approx. 90,000 inhabitants) is hauntingly beautiful and full of adrenaline. It’s been a long working day, and Zülle has delivered.

    The receptionists at Hotel Alag are flirting girls behind the veil. One of them, Habiba, asks whether I am married and start all this marital we-could-marry crap, but I’m not in the mood for this kind of show just now, so I boldly kust point to my room key and lets her know that room #15 is where I belong, if she wants some who’s-your-daddy-action.

    After nearly 7 hours of cycling, I have use the last of today’s energy efficiently, so I jump in the gas-fired shower, go out and wolf down large amounts of food, do some shopping for the tomorrow´s riding and fade out in my room (no guests) with my laptop on my stomach.

    It is nice to be physically tired after a long riding day, instead of being frustrated with the damned headwind. If there ever was one, this is the right feeling after a long day at work…

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    WT Top 16 Value-For-Money Countries (UK)

    Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

    - This list is primarily based on a quality/price ratio (prices for food, accommodation, and over-all daily needs), but more delicate factors such as infrastructure, general standard of living, standard of restaurants/food stalls, hygiejne, availability of food and drinking water etc. are also included in the final – and, do keep in mind, thoroughly personal – verdict.

    - Vietnam and Indonesia might strictly speaking be the cheapest countries I’ve been to, but in this context they are overtaken by other countries (e.g Thailand) on the equally important quality-parameter.

    - Bolivia is generally cheaper than neighboring Peru, but Peru generally sports a higher standard of living, better infrastructure, higher standard of accommodation, wider range of goods, which explains its ranking above Bolivia.

    - A note on the USA; I haven’t considered the accommodation price parameter since I very rarely (twice!) paid for my accommodation during my 3-month stay (thanks to all lawns and hosts involved). If I were to include this in the assessment, it would have knocked out the US of this list. But as in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (who didn’t make the list) you do get a lot of freebies (e.g beautiful libraries with books, magazines, wifi, clean toilets) that you’d have to pay for in other countries, and I found the ubiquitous and extremely well-stocked supermarkets very good value and of a high standard.

    WT Top 16 Value-For-Money Countries

    1. Thailand
    2. Nepal
    3. Peru
    4. Vietnam
    5. Indonesia
    6. Bolivia
    7. Morocco
    8. Colombia
    9. Ecuador
    10. Mexico
    11. Nicaragua
    12. Guatemala
    13. Malaysia
    14. Argentina
    15. USA
    16. Ghana

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    Day 1.311 – A Leftie (UK)

    Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

    When I checked into the Hotel Bir Anzazane yesterday, the friendly guy behind the counter noticed with a “Arhhh! you write with…” (at this point his vocabulary ran out) and pointed at my left hand. I nodded and just wanted to add that I’m not wiping my ass with that hand too, but he’s a very friendly lad and deserves better than my vulgar impertinence, so I just nod, confirmingly.

    It’s a mad Writing/Au Lait/Internet/Au Lait/Sightseeing/Internet day today. Crazy activity.

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    Profile updated (UK)

    Monday, November 9th, 2009

    I feel pretty confident that you didn’t know (or even cared, for that matter) all of this about the WT-expedition, about me and my take on life. …

    See complete profile update here

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    Day 1.310 – The Moral Flagpole Hoisted (UK)

    Monday, November 9th, 2009

    Tan Tan Plage -> Tan Tan
    Distance (km) : 25
    Time on bike : 1h 45m
    Brutto time: 11.20 – 13.30
    Avg : 14.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 42.2
    Total (km) : 57.136
    Altitude: 40 m
    Difficulty: 1½

    It was only going to be one rest day (two nights) here at Tan Tan Plage. Was determined to stay another day when I woke up, but the prospect of a long writing day didn’t appeal to me as much at the prospect of moving, so at 11AM I pack my gear, check out, enjoy my (for now) last cup of au lait in the hotel restaurant overlooking over the Atlantic (and where else in the world do you have that pleasure at only 0.60 USD?) and say goodbye to the friendly staff (always male) at the Hotel La Belle Vue.

    The crosswind on the road to Tan Tan is crazy and so strong that I can almost lean myself into the wind on the bike. The turbulense from passing trucks pushes me off the road several times. No shoulders here.

    The landscape is flat, bare rock desert, interrupted only by a slight increase (perhaps 100 meters in elevation) up to an (even windier) plateau, where Tan Tan Airport is located. It’s just 25 km to Tan Tan, so I keep the spirit high and am impressed (rather than frustrated) by the cursed forces of the wind.

    An evening visit to a cybercafé is a mental boost that only a tailwind can otherwise give me. There’s activity WT’s Hall of Fame, and even though I’m a bit reluctant admitting it – ‘cos WT is a pleasure child that shares unconditionally – it is a huge motivation for my writings, for the thousands of hours I have spent in the company of WT and its updates over the last 1310 days.

    I’m a little embarrassed admitting it, but I guess there is nothing odious here, nothing morally wrong with it. Support (be it in moral or monetary form) keeps me going, it does good to my sense of justice – and God only knows how much it means to me.

    (Department of footnotes starts here)

    Thanks to MacNamara, Strøbæk, Don A, and everyone else for your support and encouragement.

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    Day 1.309 – But I Don’t Wipe My Ass With My Hand (UK)

    Sunday, November 8th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Rest day.

    When I eat in public here in Morocco, I am quite aware that people would notice that I (also) eat with my left (the unclean) hand, and although I – depending on the situation and hunger – usually try not to use the dirty hand as much – not wanting to openly provoke the locals – a part of me feel like hysterically scream out that I use toilet paper and that I don’t wipe my ass with my hand! Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so darn considerate with other people.

    I drink coffee.

    I go online.

    I eat tajine.

    I do my laundry in a bucket in my bathroom.

    I recharge my gear.

    I drink coffee.

    I watch a movie on the laptop.

    I watch the sunset.

    I am.

    I eat more tajine.

    I’m in such a good mood that I even tip the waiter.

    I eat 1 kg of mandarins.

    I look at my Morocco map (again, nothing has changed) on the laptop.

    I fall asleep.

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    Day 1.308 – A Tango With The Wind (UK)

    Saturday, November 7th, 2009

    Sidi Akhfennir -> Tan Tan Plage
    Distance (km) : 93
    Time on bike : 6h 02m
    Brutto time: 07.50 – 16.50
    Avg : 15.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 46.1
    Total (km) : 57.111
    Altitude: 2 m
    Difficulty: 4

    New day, new optimism.

    No wind this morning. Flags are sad and limp on the flag poles, when I look out the window at the Hotel Atlas. It is happiness and adrenaline-inducing for my headwind-tormented psyche – and really good news for Zülle who wiggle his tail even before the morning coffee.

    But “burnt child shuns the fire”, and after the last months of headwind, it is a challenge to maintain optimistic and believe that the wind will remain silent today.
    Joy (of life and cycling in particular) is back. The sun shines all over me, and it is a fantastic morning, with only slight headwind, and an average in the saddle of a whopping 17.4 km/h. At lunchtime I stop at a great valley (Oued) and wolf down a line of mackerel sandwiches.

    I’m really out of the tropics now, and today’s mercury digits don’t exceed 22 Celsius. Even at noon the sun hangs lazily in the sky (as on a Danish summer day), far from it’s Zenith heyday. The upcoming Central European winter will be a tough one for Zülle, way too used to tropical weather by now.

    After lunch the wind wakes up. Slowly and in crescendo. The burnt child in me screams. The diarrhea is running smoothly out of me. The psychosomatics is a powerful thing – or did I have too much fruit, one tajine too many yesterday?

    I get lots of applause, thumbs-ups and encouraging honks all day long, and it’s all fine, but what really motivates (and demotivates) me is my tango with the wind. Along with the increasing headwind in the afternoon I keep repeating the mantra Nicolai, don’t let the wind get you, don’t let it bring you down. You’ve got it, right there.

    Tune of the Day: Sick Muse – Metric

    Just outside of El Ouatia (aka Tan Tan Plage and El Watia) I “lose the safety valve” for the third time today, and have to make a very sudden emergency stop in the middle of no man’s land, behind a bush the size of a bunch of parsley – visible to everything and anyone, but when a man’s in need, well, a man’s in need, and all that from my Western childhood inculcated vanity quickly disappears.

    Hotel La Belle Vue in Tan Tan Plage is situated right next to the Atlantic (and next to a fine, dark and windy, sandy beach) and offers prices half the size as its French-owned neighbor. The choice is easy. The pleasure of having arrived is growing as fast as the wind picked up today. You give some, you get some.

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    Day 1.307 – Sandblasts & A Lurking Psychosis (UK)

    Friday, November 6th, 2009

    Tarfaya -> Sidi Akhfennir
    Distance (km) : 13.6
    Time on bike : 1h 17m
    Brutto time: 08.25 – 13.00
    Avg : 10.6! km/h
    Max.speed: 18.5
    Total (km) : 57.018
    Altitude: 3 m
    Difficulty: N/A

    I didn’t believe Hell could be any worse, be any warmer, but I was wrong.

    As soon as I hit the streets and get the first few sandblasts in my eyes, I realize that I probably should have taken the day off in my pillow-clad Heaven (with cable-TV tennis from Basel).

    The crosswind (read: storm!) hits me “from the 10.30 o’clock angle” (still very demanding and fucked up, make no mistake!) (a northerly) and there is nothing in the landscape to stop the sandblasts. The flags at deserted gas station stand perpendicular from the pole (in my direction of travel, of course), just as in the children’s drawings. In terms of cycling joy the WT has never been deeper.

    The road crosses a major sand dune and on the way down the dune I still have to pedal, small chain ring and all, with a ridiculous 11-12 km/h. On all accounts it is downright wrong and the psychosis is lurking. Even the Koga is howling in the wind. I’ve never hated cycling more than now (Me neither, screamed the sandblasted Koga). When Hussein, a kind local guy, stops and asks me where I’m going and if I need a helping hand (How could he know? Was it that obvious?), I don’t resist. The 75 km to the next village takes under an hour in the car, and I dare not imagine how long it would’ve taken me and the bike.

    In the village of Sidi Akhfennir I check into a clean miniature room at Hotel Atlas (6.30 USD), as the only guest. Mmmm… Fill up on another tajine and coke and go down to the wild Atlantic coast with my iPod, trying to attract some positive mental vibes in the sunset light.

    Tomorrow everything will be better, Nicolai. Tomorrow everything will be better …

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    Day 1.306 – To Fight Against Gods (UK)

    Thursday, November 5th, 2009

    Laayoune (W.S.) -> Tarfaya (MA)
    Distance (km) : 62
    Time on bike : 4h 42m
    Brutto time: 08.45 – 15.45
    Avg : 13.1! km/h
    Max.speed: 36.5
    Total (km) : 57.004
    Altitude: 2 m
    Difficulty: 4

    I think it was the Romans (or was it the Greeks?) who invented the proverbial “against the gods even fools struggle in vain”. If they had not come up with it, I certainly would have come up with something similar here in Northwest Africa. Unfortunately, the weather gods have a bad eye for me today again as I leave Laayoune. It seems infinitely foolish to battle against the wind. I struggle and fight on the small chain ring in the bloody headwind, and although I have just had 3 days of rest in Laayoune, and is charged on all accounts, the wind soon blows it all away into the grim desert. I’m down. The idea of an entire day of tailwind seems utopian, and it seems like I no longer remember the feeling of tailwind (and it’s not the only feeling you hardly remember, whispers my inner Silver Monk).

    My thoughts fly away again, to the west, into the Atlantic, 100 km off the coast to the Canary Islands, where I spent some beautiful weeks with Koga on Tenerife – an island I know faily well by now! – nearly 4 years ago. See photo album from Tenerife here.

    The sand is hitting me straight in the face. The wind hits me face-on, my face wrought in tragic looks, as if I was witnessing a horrific tale of biblical dimensions. The only encouragement is when trucks from behind overtake me and for 5 seconds leave me in the slipstream, with the turbulent and confused winds (including sandblasting). It is the most depressing kilometers, I have cycled.

    In the village Tah I cross the officially recognized border into Morocco, but the Moroccans haven’t made a big fuzz about, just setting up another military check post.

    I am now back where it all started, with the bike, in Morocco 4 years ago, a mere week after I had acquired the academic title Cand. Scient. Anth. at Copenhagen University.

    In Tarfaya I find a guesthouse – a maison d’Hôte - where I (despite fatigue) haggle down the price of an apartment (!) from 200 to 100 dirhams (13 USD). I have an entire apartment, with cable-TV room, bedroom, bathroom, etc., all full of fluffy pillows, it’s super clean, very comfortable – and mine! It is fantastic value-for-money – especially when a mad diarrhea strikes back…

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    What’s In My Bags?

    Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

    (UK)

    I was wondering if you ever wondered what’s in a round-the-world cyclist’s (being me) bike bags? What constitutes his home? His belongings? Well, wonder no more.

    1.305 days and 57.000 km in to my RTW expedition, I’ve made a sort of interactive Flickr photo album with detailed photos of the content of my 6 bike bags.

    All the photos (19) contain descriptive notes. When on the Flickr page, just click the individual photos (to see enlargement) and then put the cursor on the photos, and you’ll see square boxes popping up with additional text…

    Before you proceed, I warmly recommend you check out these photos in the Flickr album I’ve made. The photos contain small descriptive notes (that don’t show up in the photos below) in semi-hidden boxes on the individual photos.

    Just read the comment in the left-hand box and follow the description.

    See Equipment List on Flickr


    Front pannier, right side:

    WT EQP: Front pannier, right side.

    WT EQP: Bike parts

    WT EQP: Plastic box (front/right pannier) with miscellaneous stuff

    WT EQP: Plastic box (front/right pannier) with miscellaneous stuff


    Front pannier, left side:

    WT EQP: The Laptop

    WT EQP: The Paper Matters

    Rear pannier, right side:

    WT EQP: Clothes (mostly right/back pannier)

    WT EQP: Spare tyres, tubes, tools, bike parts.

    WT EQP: Spare parts, medication, tools etc.

    WT EQP: The Toilet Bag

    Rear pannier, left side:

    WT EQP: Stuff sack with socks and gloves etc.

    WT EQP: Miscellaneous

    WT EQP: The Gadgets

    WT EQP: Chords, extra batteries, internet cable etc.

    …and all this goes into this…

    WT EQP: Chords, extra batteries, internet cable etc.


    On top of rear panniers:

    WT EQP: Camping stuff (back of bike)

    WT EQP: The Gadgets


    The Handle Bar Bag:

    WT EQP: The Handle Bar Bag

    The Bags:

    WT EQP: The Panniers (bike bags)

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    Day 1.305 – I’d Be Damned! (UK)

    Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

    I’d be damned!

    I sense something unusual when I look out my window this morning. Flags are not moving, my Plexiglas window doesn’t rattle, and there’s no trash flying around the streets below me. The wind has died. I’d stopped believing it could happen. Immediately the logistic voice in me starts thinking – go, Zülle, just go! – and for a moment, I am sure that I’ll leave Laayoune today (going north). I suspect the moon – which is just about full now – of playing a part in this mystery.

    I go out and get hold of orange juice and cold milk for my muesli, considering, but choose
    to stay another day, hoping this won’t be the only calm morning (and the wind wakes up in the afternoon, anyway).

    Habib, the young hotel guy (20), offers me in for a tea-with-bread-and-olive-ceremony as soon as I get back from my walk around the western part of Laayoune. I see no excuse, and although Habib speak little French (but still more than me), we are able to have a conversation, about his 11! siblings which he informs me is quite normal for a berber family like his.

    Habib is a good guy. When later today I’m relaxing on the hotel roof under the sun, with Rufus Wainwright in my ear and 1 kg of clementines on the way down in my stomach, he comes up and says it’s tajine time amd that he wants to share it with me. It is berber hospitality as I remember it from 2005 – and at only 4 USD a night here at the Hotel Marhaba – incl. lunch and tea, social time and private peace (along with running water and electricity non-stop, which was lacking in parts of West Africa) – I can hardly afford not staying a little longer.

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    Day 1.304 – Hammam (UK)

    Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

    Being a city with over 200,000 inhabitants, one can not accuse Laayoune of having an impressive variety of evening activities. But tonight all the flatscreen-equipped cafes are packed with soccer-happy men (and only men) who are glued to the Champions League bighit AC Milan vs. Real Madrid. It does not excite me.

    I’ve seen a hammam-sign around the corner from my little hotel already, so in the early evening I ppack my swimming trunks, a towel and soap and head for the bath. It is sparkling new and modern. Unfamiliar with the social rules of the Moroccan hammam, a young caretaker boy shows me the basics, and he seems surprised at my ignorance and my special non-verbal, highly gestural way of communicating.

    Soon I’m changed and a masseuse leads me in to the hammam bath. I sit down on the tiled floor and then the dude starts rubbing this brown soap all over me, rinses me, and then he starts the magic with the scrubbing glove – full-body – and rubs shameful amounts of dead skin off me, and here I thought I’d cleaned myself from all that Saharan grime!
    The work of the masseuse is professional and pleasant, and after my unexpected skin change I’m rubbed down with soap again, given a light massage (and all this for just 3.50 USD), rinsed off, and soon I’m out on the street again, infinitely comfortable after the purifying catharsis, and the full moon, that rises heavily and beautifully over the horizon, is watching it all.

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    New Photo Album From Ghana (UK)

    Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

    Ghana was my first African country in WT-time and I spent 19 days there, pedalling 926 km, from the capital Accra, along the Bay of Guinea to Cape Coast, then inland north to Kumasi – home to West Africa’s largest market – continueing up through the lush center to Tamale and on to Burkina Faso.

    This album contains 120 photos with some of the visual and personal highlights of my time in wonderful Ghana.

    Option A. Ghana Photos in Standard Flickr Album

    Option B. Ditto in Flickr Slideshow

    Very shortly – when WT and Flickr correspond properly – you can also see the photos in the WT Photos department…

    Option C. View Photos on WT

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    Day 1.303 – The Waitress & The Third Cup (UK)

    Monday, November 2nd, 2009

    0 km etc.

    My thinking continues today. If my pride was to decide, I’d probably bike back and cover the route I took in the Mercedes, but honestly I don’t think I’m willing to pay the price (in the form of an expected sense of meaninglessness by cycling south through an unforgiving landscape). I am still unsure of my next move, but as it looks now, I’ll continue north.

    If I end up choosing to ride back to the south, it will be the most difficult decision in WT-story. Physically, I can obviously do it (especially with the tail wind as my supportive crew), but I fear it will be devastating for the kevlar mind.

    So dearest WT reader, if you happen to have a few ideas, thoughts or otherwise up your sleeve, please bring them out and tell me. Do not hesitate.

    I sit in a small shop/cafe and have breakfast today. But I need more coffee, so I goof around in the back streets of Laayoune in search of another cafe. Success is just around the corner and I sit down in front of the cafe’s flat screen with Spanish football and order my second cup of au lait, served by a lovely young lady whose unlimited smile and external features make it seem like I already had my third cup. :-)

    It is far too long since I’ve seen a random, flirty glance in the street. It is a lack that makes me gray and old inside, in the social core, but I hope no permanent damage has been done and that it can all be fixed, maybe with a little Scandinavian help. :-)

    I need to holiday. I need to relax, to escape WT-ropes for a while.
    I don’t think that I’ve really relaxed since I left the Danish paradise in Ouagadougou 40 days ago. Thus, I feel like just sitting here in the cafés of Laayoune and drink cafe au laits all day – and at 4-6 dirhams a cup (0.50-0.70 USD) it would take a lot of coffees until I get bankrupt.

    I spend hours and hours in my room writing diary notes on the laptop, and later I throw them online in the internet cafe next door.

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    WT Top 30 Happy Times

    Monday, November 2nd, 2009

    A few things to keep in mind:

    - List is chronologically ordered.
    - Geographically manifested.
    - Series of days, rather than single days.
    - Mostly (but not exclusively) socially related.
    - Most importantly, days full of happiness and personal contentment.

    1. Istanbul, Turkey
    2. Kathmandu, Nepal
    3. Muine, Vietnam
    4. Luang Prabang, Laos
    5. Chiang Mai, Thailand
    6. Koh Tao, Thailand
    7. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
    8. Tioman Island, Malaysia
    9. Bali, Indonesia
    10. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
    11. Adelaide, Australia
    12. Melbourne, Australia
    13. Sydney, Australia
    14. Moorea, French Polynesia
    15. Santiago, Chile
    16. Cochabamba, Bolivia
    17. La Paz, Bolivia
    18. Cusco, Peru
    19. Lima, Peru
    20. Máncora, Peru
    21. Cali, Colombia
    22. Cartagena, Colombia
    23. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
    24. Antigua, Guatemala
    25. Wrightsville Beach, NC, USA
    26. Washington, D.C., USA
    27. New York, USA
    28. Montreal, Canada
    29. Quebec City, Canada
    30. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

    (and many more to come…Inshallah!)

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    Day 1.302 – Backseat Thoughts (UK)

    Sunday, November 1st, 2009

    In the larger town Boujdour, we have a midnight break and it soon turns out that the drivers (two) need some sleep, so we all find a spot in the car, some in the back, some in front and I at the bottom of the van.

    Just as you probably can get so deprived of love that even a slap in the face feels like love, you can become so tired that even a somewhat awkward night huddled on the bottom of a Mercedes van (between lady legs – no, it wasn’t nearly as lucrative as it sounds – a gas burner, flip-flops and the legs of a chair) and with numerous awakenings when my various limbs began to sleep, can feel like sleep!

    At sunrise, we continue north and soon find a gas station cum restaurant where I order cafe au laits and croissants for the whole gang, as a thank you guys for the lift. Not even two cups can pick me up. From a need-of-sleep perspective, it was quite a horrible night.

    The question keeps circulating in my mind: Do I ride back, and if so, why? Why?

    I get off in Laayoune, say goodbye to the sweet Senegalese people, and find a cheap hotel (Marhaba) where I haggle down a double room from 40 to 30 dirham, a modest USD 3.50. Daddy The Cheap Rat (me) is wagging his tail. Although it is inconceivable to me that I find myself in Laayoune, it feels great to be in this situation, with a few more options for WT-boy’s next move.

    As it is right now, the idea of taking this journey through most of Western Sahara another two times (three in total), seem pointless, stupid even.

    I have seen how barren and monotonous the landscape is, I’ve had my fights in the Sahara all the way through Mauritania and the southern part of Western Sahara, and I personally do not feel I would miss anything by having passed through the area in a van. WT will not miss anything. My pride may feel slightly let down, ‘cos this is a bicycle expedition, not a hitchhiker’s journey.

    But shouldn’t I just be happy that I got this free ride by a friendly bunch of Senegalese people and then continue WT as I’ve been doing for the last 43 months?

    I’ll have to take my time here in Laayoune, the situation requires the right decision, because it is my fear that I will make a decision, that I’d later regret. If I choose to continue north, there is likely a little expedition voice inside of me who would like me to justify the decision.

    It is almost 3 years since I threw my gear on a bus last time, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to meet my family, who arrived in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Of course I had sworn I’d be there when they arrived. The Visa Office in Phnom Penh was unexpectedly closed on a weekday because of a presidential visit from Vietnam, and it fucked up my planning, so the bus was the only way I could get to Ho Chi Minh City on the same day as my family. So bussing it is not a common practice that I’ve used much.

    There is some sort of camel festival going on in Laayoune, who seethes and oozes with sociality, and families in the streets. It is wonderful to walk around in a quite civilized urban environment again. I pamper myselves with a cafe au lait and a fat cake at a fancy sidewalk cafe in the middle of main street, Boulevard de Mecca, munch down 1 kg of clementines, and feel almost like a human again.

    I see no live camels in the street, but instead I have my own camel feast in the form of a kebab sandwich with camel hamburgers at a local fast food restaurant. Later that evening, I even see a camel’s head hanging on a butcher’s meat hook, blood dripping and the long, feminine eyelashes intact.

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    WT Top 13 Hard Times

    Sunday, November 1st, 2009

    Chronologically ordered. Personal experience. (What made it hard in parenthesis).

    1. Azerbaijan (heat, time/visa pressure)
    2. Tibet (altitude, terrain, cold, isolation, crash, terrible washboard roads)
    3. Vietnam (headwinds, non-social periods, negative attention from locals)
    4. Northeastern Laos (nonstop rollercoasters, heat, feeling weak)
    5. Australian Outback (isolation, heat, lack of facilities)
    6. Southern Bolivia (altitude, isolation, nightmare roads)
    7. Southern Peru (mountains, isolation, altitude, cold)
    8. Northern Peru (desert monotony, heat)
    9. Southern Colombia (mountains)
    10. Panama (time pressure to meet friend, heat)
    11. Mexico (monotony, heat, lack of rest days, self-inflicted hardship)
    12. Mali (heat, isolation, heat rash, attention from locals, no frills)
    13. Mauritania (heat, isolation, endless headwinds, lack of facilities)

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