Marrakech Express

Story by Emily Roberts// Photos by Emily Roberts, Ricardo Serpa, Carlos Martins & Chris Hollands
March 21 2023

A ride into an ancient world that defies description.

I’d lost count of how many stray dogs I’d seen so far, and we weren’t even halfway through the trip. And I’d already run out of food to give them. I looked for dogs as we walked through the brightly coloured and unique medina, which perfectly depicts the landscape we were riding through. The coastal air I’d been colliding with had done me well, I thought; it cleared my head in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I would feel myself changing with each curve in the road, offering a new and noticeable shift in a culture that I couldn’t yet relate to.

Backing up a bit: we departed Malaga, Spain, riding the Costa del Sol Highway, arriving in Tarifa on the southern coast of Spain to catch the ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, Morocco. We approached the border crossing and experienced our first shift in culture. The guards asked our guide why I was riding a bike by myself; it seemed off-putting to them, seeing me as the only woman in a group full of men. Carlos, one of our guides, spoke to them and we were soon allowed into the country. We rode through the city, weaving through the downtown traffic, and were surprised to see dromedaries grazing along the side of the road in the city.

We avoided highways as much as possible while meandering our way to Casablanca on tight roads lined with small villages. The townsfolk watched us ride through the towns; they wore either smiles or scowls.

Be Aware of your Surroundings

We were warned that Casablanca is one of the worst cities to drive in and is heavily lacking in road rules. Cars grew in numbers surrounding and dividing us, with many straddling lanes and weaving and dodging other road users to narrowly gain a car length.

I was part of a group tour arranged through Aventura Motorcycle Tours and was riding a BMW R1250GS, I wove around cars, splitting lanes and, just when I’d think there was no room, a scooter would zoom right past, almost touching bars with my bike and going twice the speed. There seemed to be no lack of courage amongst local riders. It became a game of Frogger: you see an opening, you take it. Stop. Go. Right, right, left. Stop. Go, go, go! Honking horns and sirens became the soundtrack as I made my way into downtown moving through the veil of thick, city smog.

We wound along the Moroccan coast to El Jadida, part of which is known as the fortified Portuguese City, or Marzagan. There, an old port was fortified in the 16th century by the Portuguese on their way to India, and…


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