Trevis Matheus
Of The Way South
On the Monkey Run Morocco January 2020

Moroccan Finish Line/Wrap Up

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I didn't realize when I started these that people would actually read them. I knew a few would but they were mostly for me. When I abruptly stopped writing family and friends reported being left out to dry! So I will try to wrap up my concluding thoughts about my Moroccan adventure from the comfort of England.

The last full day of riding was by far our worst day, it was our second crossing of the Atlas mountains and we had to do well over 150km (most of that between 20 and 30 kmph up hill). In hindsight it was obvious to see why we were one of the only teams to cross twice, you can only be overtaken by so many busses on a narrow road, throttle pinned, engine whining, and only doing 10kmph before it gets old.

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By mid morning Jake had crashed and our spirits were as low as our fuel tanks. Looking at the ditch he crashed in we were lucky he was not seriously injured. We stopped and asked for fuel an endeavor that took nearly 2 hours for someone to go get and bring back litre water bottles full of gas. By the late afternoon Jake crashed again, I felt to blame we were tired and pushing hard having the most experience between us I should have known better. This was the first crash I witnessed and I was horiffied. Jake was a trooper though and he always got back in the saddle.

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That night sprits were even lower than before, especially after losing Kelly back to his family. We were quickly cheered up by finding other monkeys at our hotel! In retrospect we were all converging on the same place so it made sense. I stayed up nearly all night freezing and conversing on our common balcony under a blanket, a vast improvement to the day so far.

The final ride into the finish line was interesting as it meant riding through parts of Marrakech. Thanks to the prior planning of one of the other monkeys, over half of the participants met at a gocart track for a failed attempt at an impromptu race. As a result we rode through Marrakech 28 strong. We were at the back though and missed our turn. After some stressful navigating and a wheelie culminating in a near crash on my part we caught the group and rode to the finish line together, reportedly in one of the largest mass finishes to date.

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At the finish line we were plied with Matt's Gin and Tonic and our ears bombarded with a local drum line rocking out everytime new riders filtered in and up to the final podium. The podium it's worth noting: is only accessible via a steep narrow ramp and this year we also set the record for the most crashes and deposits lost on the stage (video below). I felt slightly sad as I removed my straps and belonging from my monkey, we drove that children's toy across an entire country, up steep grades and back down, on roads that even a real motorcycle would struggle on and it just kept going (albeit slowly).

From there we were bussed back to the heart of Marrakech for dinner and more drinks, as well as an award ceremony. We spent the next couple of days wandering the Souq, and taking the train to Casablanca to see the famous Rick's Café and the Hassan II Mosque. Rick's is a recreation of the famous gin joint from the movie Casablanca. Movie buffs will note the actual movie could not have been filmed in Morrocco at the time due to German occupation already taking place. The Hassan II Mosque is one of the only Mosques in the world westerns are allowed and encouraged to go into. The building was finished in the 90s and is strikingly beautiful. As a whole if you are debating going to Casablanca though, don't. As the countries economic capital and major port and one of the largest cities in Africa it was hard, despite trying, to find any real charm there. I'd forgo Casablanca and try to make it to Fez if I had to do it again.

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On the final day my spirits were low. I realized I had come all this way and still had nearly 2 weeks until work started again. As a result I took a gamble on spontenaity and changed my flight for a 9 day layover in London. This has allowed me a soft landing, combining equal parts vacation and work in preparation of returning to the US next week.

If you've stuck with me this far thank you! Feel free to call it a day and sign off, if you'd like to learn a bit about Berber and Morrocan culture read on!

I promised more on the culture of Morocco in a prior post. I was amazed at the diversity of Morocco the most. The national language is Arabic, but outside of major cities Arabic is rarely spoken. Other common languages include French (hold over from colonialism), Spanish (likely due to its proximity), English, and in rural areas 4 different dialects of Berber. Morocco is split into 4 distinct Berber territories and each one has its own unique culture and colors of robes.

Interestingly though if you've ever seen any of the original star wars (episodes 4 through 6) you've likely seen these robes. Naively I once thought that George Lucas did a great job with costumes but really he just stole Berber clothes for jedi robes and likely modeled Jawas (the Droid stealing little guys) after hooded kids wearing the same robes who were just as quick to grab anything they can from you. Okay nerd tangent over...

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Despite all this the Berber culture is one of the most hospitable I've ever met. One local told us over tea "that [we] have the biggest hearts", and I could easily believe it, most days. Everyone was quick to lend a hand when we needed it and welcome us to their city for food and company. While it is easy for me to gripe about being hustled or children trying to steal my hand sanitizer (and using it as shampoo) in the context of Morocco it makes sense. The country is always under construction (new homes might take decades to complete, we passed several towns where one person would be painstakingly adding blocks to rebar construction one brick at a time) and divided into the haves and have-nots with a great many more have-nots. In such a poor region of course someone will want to take you on an unsolicited tour of the Medina for a few dollars. It's ironic seeing tourists refuse to pay someone the equivalent of $2 or haggle over a few cents when in the long run it means very little to the tourist but can be the difference between having a dinner or not for a local.

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All and all I found Morocco to be a hospitable, friendly, and loving country I'd highly reccomend you give it a try.

-Ar Timlilit (goodbye) 

Justin Chow
Of 3 Wheely Cool Guys
On the Rickshaw Run January 2020

Day 14: Cheruthuruthi to the FINISH LINE (Cochin)

Following a welcomed relaxed wake-up and a spot of breakfast, the 3 Wheely Cool Guys set off for the last ever time on the road. 

After navigating expertly through endless traffic (from motorcycle-drawn wheelbarrows to the gargantuan 16-wheeler trucks) of various towns we arrived at the Finish Line! 

To celebrate we joined the game of football against a local team in the sweltering midday sun and then checked in to the hotel to enjoy the last few days of India. 

We would like to thank all those who had sponsored us for this trip (which apparently awarded us with a wooden elephant for the most fundraising for the Cool Earth charity), it has been an amazing adventure which clocked up a total distance of 2931km. Not bad for a lawnmower on wheels... 

Over and out. 


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