Two days’ ride southwest we sit in a small cafe on the periphery of Africa’s largest and busiest market square, the Djemaa el Fna, (assembly of the dead) inside the fire-red walls of Marrakesh.
Clinging precariously to the northern tip of Africa, Ceuta is the last Spanish enclave in this vast continent and from where we’ll start our Moroccan adventure. At the border, it’s late November and 100 degrees.
The tires of our heavily-laden bikes bite into the freshly fallen snow that blankets the ground. We cautiously pull past the weather worn sign on the outskirts of Ushuaia which proudly reads “Bienvenidos a la Ciudad mas austral del mundo”, or “ Welcome to the southern-most city in the world.”
We travel South on the margin of civilization, deep within the disputed territories of the Western Sahara, a vast uninhabited and inhospitable stretch of barren desert, long fought over, with Morocco and Mauritania laying hostile claim. To our left the Sahara silently reaches out, shifting sand lit by the fast rising sun. It is 9:00am and already 100 degrees.
African nations are often only known for their violence, power struggles and corrupt governments. However, there is a more positive side to South Africa and its neighbors to the northeast. There is genuine human warmth experienced daily, and for the most part you could easily be forgiven for thinking you are in a scene from a National Geographic documentary.