February 12: Marrakech (Palmerie area and Majorelle Gardens

The gods were blessing the day today -- the sun rose to a clear sky enabling it to warm the earth, air and environment to a pleasing temperature that made the first bike ride relaxing carefree experience. A trip by van to the bike shop to be fitted and the out to the oasis outside the city. The bike shop is a well equipped operation with a team of staff ready to make sure that everyone had the perfect bike with the perfect adjustments -- everything needed to make for a perfect ride!

Also at this time the rest of the "guide team" arrived to welcome the group to their country. A van driver, a cook, a second guide -- each prepared to make the journey over the next week an enjoyable one.

First on the list was to be fitted, then it was to "test drive" around the block, then the real challenge -- ride out of the city into the outlying areas of less traveled roads and enjoy the "cruising". Traffic in Marrakech is something in its own world. No one follows any particular traffic rule -- turn when you want, stop if you feel like it, change lanes not by the lines on the road or even the side of the road that would be directed as the proper lane -- it is a free for all of will!!! Pedestrians, bicyclists. motorcyclists, cars, trucks, buses -- all come and go where and when they feel like it!!! Fortunately for the group the guides are very experienced in moving through the traffic and with such "newbies" -- all make it safe and with very little anxiety. Like the bartering in the souk, the movement among the traffic is a game -- a game of who should give right a way to the other. Most wave the bicyclist on without even a hesitation.

The ride was through the area outside of the city that is referred to as the Palmerie. It is an oasis that is home to several palm tree farms as well as tourist camel rides stations. The terrain is flat with the Atlas Mountains in the distance. Very little traffic is sharing the road, so for the first maiden ride on the new bikes it is a pleasure to merely pedal and enjoy the scenery. A beautiful picnic lunch is presented under the shade of some palms off road to culminate the ride. A perfect beginning to a wonderful biking tour.

To finish off the day the group experiences the wonder of the Jardin Majorelle -- the botanical gardens of Marrakech along with the Berber Museum imbedded within its walls. The garden was originally commissioned by the artist, Jacques Marjorelle in 1941 as his private garden to complement an art studio that he was building. He wanted a garden full of the exotic plants and trees that he had collected in his world travels. In 1947 he opened part of the garden to the public. From 1962 at the time of his death until 1980 the garden was left to disrepair. However, fortunately not only for the garden but the public, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, both artists in their own right saved it from real estate developers and restored it to its natural beauty. In 2008 it was formally donated to the Jardin Majorelle Foundation.

Within the walls of the garden is the Berber Museum housing artifacts from this indigenous tribe of Morocco. Clothing, jewelry, weapons, religious pieces, pottery -- all display the life and beliefs of the people that represent the first people of the land.

"Okay, Everyone -- Find the Bike with Your Name on It!"

Argan Extreme Sports Bike Shop

Last Minute Check List!

Saaid : "Now Ladies, This is the Desert!"

Palm Tree Plantation

Kit Enjoying the Scenery

 

The Group

Sue

Jackie and Saaid Explaining Where the Group Is Headed

Sweep

Saaid : "Okay, Marilyn -- One More Time -- This is the Desert!

"Chief Cook and Bottle Washer"

Picnic Time!

Fruit of the Day

Lauri and Lauren: "These Strawberries Are Wonderful"

Lunch is Served!

Hungry!!!!

Camels

The Women of the Gardens! Marilyn, Lauren, Elaine, Lauri

Elaine and Marilyn Enjoying the Gardens

Cheryl