There, now that I’ve got your attention . . .

Sorry, I haven’t posted in a while. Busy? Lazy? A combination of both, I suppose.

I took a nice bike ride last Sunday into the countryside, pedaling about 6 or 7 miles outside of town. It was a gorgeous day, warm (hot, going uphill), with blue skies dotted by cumulus clouds. It was more like a late spring day than the middle of February. A lot different than Montana weather right now. I see that they’re “enjoying” sub-zero temperatures, at times reaching -25F (that’s -31C). I don’t miss it a bit.

Here are a few shots from the trip.

So, I rode around for several hours, stopping to take numerous photos of the interesting cloud formations that sailed across the deep blue skies. I probably had a total ride of 20-25 miles and was getting pooped when I started to return to Meknes. I decided, however, to take a short journey down one of the back roads to Rabat. It’s a two-lane highway with wide, paved shoulders, so it’s not a problem to ride a bicycle–lots of traffic, though. I had gone about 3 miles down the road when I decided to turn back because of an approaching storm.

I got about half way to the outskirts of Meknes when I heard a police siren ahead of me at the top of a hill. It looked like he had pulled someone over, perhaps for speeding. All of a sudden a farm truck peeled off the pavement and started barreling down a dirt track to the right of the main road, heading right toward me. I was on the pavement and in no danger. Right behind him came the cop car, siren wailing, lights flashing. I caught a brief glimpse of the truck driver’s face and he looked frightened, but determined, as they raced passed me. I watched them speed down the hill a ways, then the truck zoomed onto the pavement hell bent for leather and sped away in the distance, the squad car right behind him. Then, two police motorcycles joined the chase, zooming past me. Off the high-speed chase went over the top of the hill behind me, disappearing from view. Crazy.

I resumed my ride to the top of the next hill. All of a sudden, one of the motorcycles sped past me, heading for town, probably to get reinforcements, I thought. Then, I heard the police car siren again, and I got off the bike and turned around to see the farm truck careening up the road with the cop right on his tail and the other motorcycle not far behind. Away they raced toward Meknes and I thought it’s going to get pretty hectic trying to maneuver through the busy streets of the city. I never did see them again, though. What was the guy trying to hide? Smuggling, perhaps? A wanted criminal? I suppose I’ll never know, but it was a strange experience, like a Moroccan version of the Key Stone Cops. With all the traffic it would have been difficult to block him, but I still wonder how the guy ever got the truck turned around. Since it all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to take my camera out of my pack and snap some shots. Maybe the fellow will end up in the prison I stumbled upon earlier in the day.

You’re not supposed to take photos of this kind of subject, but I was at a distance and used my telephoto lens. Yes, there were guards in the towers, but I didn’t see any barbed wire surrounding the place as I rode past. I assume it’s a prison. Maybe it’s one used by the CIA for “rendition” purposes? (That should get a few page views from the NSA!)

Explosion? My water heater kind of blew up, gushing water all over the bathroom. It made a loud pop when it blew, sort of like a champagne cork. I couldn’t find the main shut-off valve and I was getting kind of frantic. I ran downstairs and got Brahim, the building super, to come help me, and eventually we found the valve. I’m lucky I was home when it happened. It hasn’t been fixed yet, but the nephew of the lady who owns the apartment (she lives in the Netherlands) is coming over sometime this morning to see what’s up with it. A fellow already came by and said that I need a new tank (obvious); now the only question is who’s going to pay for it. It should be the apartment owner, but I hope I don’t have to get into a hassle about it. In the meantime, my Peace Corps experience is coming in handy–I heat water on the stove for doing dishes and taking “bucket showers.” Not an undue burden, but a nuisance nonetheless. More later.