We said goodbye to Hotel Beautiful around mid morning and after stopping to find an ATM and refuel we were on our way. It didn’t take long to reach Taza were we left the main road to pick up our planned route. The sky was blue and the road was good but as we moved further south the road became gravel and the temperature became cooler. The views were typical Morocco though and we stopped several times to take photos.
The problem with travelling in Morocco at this time of year, apart from the weather, is that the days are a lot shorter. It was late afternoon now and we knew that as soon as the sun went down the temperature would drop rapidly, and we were quite remote here. We hadn’t seen a village or even a building in many kilometres. Checking the internet for an auberge or hotel was not much help either, there was nothing near by. However, there was what looked like a small village a few kilometres ahead. There was a school and a number of buildings, and lots of people milling about. We headed to what looked like the centre to ask about somewhere to stay only to be told there was nothing near by.
The sun was getting lower now and we only had about an hour of light left, all we could do was continue. We had been continously climbing most of the day and were now at around 1500m and still going up. Since that last village we hadn’t seen any buildings, we stopped to check maps and try another internet search when a local in a pickup truck stopped beside us. We told hime what we were looking for and he told us of Hotel Omar, just around the next corner. When we eventually passed the hotel entrance Omar was waiting for us, so he had either heard the bikes or been called to expect us imminently.
Local entrepreneur, Omar, was renting out rooms in his parents home to tourists. He had a monopoly as there was nothing for several kilometres around here, and it was very fortunate for us as it wasn’t long until the sun set and it became dark. Omar and his family provided us not only with a room and bed for the evening but also an amazing sizzling Tagine and even WiFi. As the wood burner in the corner burnt down it was getting noticeably colder so we decided to retire to bed.
Despite adding more and more blankets from the pile in the corner it was really difficult to get warm during the night. I did manage to get some sleep, but was glad for the morning and the relative warmth of the sun.
I managed to get a few photos before it was completely dark and the setting sun made the mountains behind appear a bright red colour.
The next morning was cold and sunny and we suddenly realised that it was Christmas Eve. We had breakfast of omelette and salad and started to pack up the bikes. It was getting a bit warmer as the sun rose in the sky and we left Hotel Omar and headed in the wrong direction!