Saturday, 9 July 2011

Robbed at knife point in Morocco.

To my right a desk with two computers sat back to back astride bundles of paper work written in a language secret to me.   This was the focal point that dominated the otherwise featureless room.  It didn't interest me. Nothing in the room did.  My eyes were fixed on the wall to the left. I can't tell you the colour of it or if posters covered the wall. Maybe it was cracked and damaged I can't say.  I was in a trance, lost in this small stuffy space, parked on a wooden seat set adrift from the desk.  This wasn't happening. This was not real.

....The end of the blade was rounded, not sharp, but rounded with a jagged tip that shone bright in the waking light of the early morning.  It was pointed directed at my neck.....

 No I was literally thousands of miles away.  I was in the bush battling the flies and the heat, I was riding along the deep sand roads in Kazakhstan, I was looking in disbelief as I had arrived at the port in Saint John's for the ferry to Nova Scotia after having completed 380km in a under 24 hours, sure that I was set to fail and return home early. I was rerunning the last 340 days through my head. Challenge after challenge replayed, the work and effort remembered.  All the challenges I had faced and overcome now stood for nothing. It was over.

....The second knife was long, very long. A machete.  Its handle was small and the tip of the rounded blade pushed against my ribs......

A voice asked me a question in a combination of languages; this brought me back into the room. He looked like them.  They all did. But of course it wasn't them.   The officer had wanted nothing more than an answer to one of the question on his form. You could see it in his eyes.  All he wanted was my information so that when it was collected I could be processed and shown the door.    

.....I was on the floor. I could hear the sound of the waves rolling unwillingly on to the dirty yellow of the beach.   I had just been sleeping. It was a strategic sleep, a tried and tested method of recovery. I had only stopped a few hours earlier and in 15 minutes I had planned to get up and ride to Tangier. It was 43 km away, I was bound for Gibraltar, British soil I was so very nearly home.......  

"What is your Job?"  Asked the officer. I explained that I had been cycling around the world for nearly a year and was close to finishing. I had cycled through 26 countries on five continents covering nearly 38,000km. I was aiming for just over 40000km. He looked at me with very little interest and disappointment with my answer. This didn't fit in the box. The Moroccan officer tried again till I gave an answer that conformed to the formalities of the report in front of him.

.......The knifes are what I noticed first. These were both held in the hands of one of the three men that I awoke to find around me. I was confused. What was going on? Why was this man pointing a knife at me? What had I done to him?....

"What did they take?" was asked next. How could I answer this? Did he mean the phone from my pocket? Yes, this man of the law, enjoyed this answer.  This fitted nicely on the form.  The pleasure he seemed to receive from the answer  was equally matched with disappointment when I detailed the small amount of money I had on me. He almost seemed not to believe me a "rich" tourist could have so little. So he asked this question a number of times.

.......One of the two not holding a knife grabbed Kristy as she lay on her side next to me. I lunged without thinking clasping the frame as fear gripped me like I have never known before. They were going to take Kirsty. I couldn't let this happening. Not now, not so close to the end. The remaining man behind me shoved me back to the floor with force and pinned me there.  I then realised what was happening.  I was being robbed. These three Moroccan men were robbing me.  I tried to sit up and say I had money only to be forced back to the ground.......

"Camera?"  the officer prompted. "Yes a camcorder ," I explained.  I had been filming the entire expedition and was going to make a documentary at the end of it. He was busy typing and ignoring me. I was now blurting out anything that I hoped would urge them to help me situation. I had lost 7 months worth of filming in a matter of moments. I needed these men at the police station to help me so badly.

.....The man without a knife lifted Kirsty and laughed as if this was a game.  He reached down gripping one of the front panniers and ripped it savagely from its position. I watched as the small bag that contained my journals, filming, and photographs went over my head to the other man and into a car. Wait, I did a double take, yes a car. These men had a car! What would people  that could afford a car want with my photos? This didn't make sense.........

 "Anything else?" the officer asked unconvincingly. It appeared to me that I had given an answer to all the items that was of interest to him. I had watched in disbelief as my camcorder, passport, photos, wallet, phone had all been stolen from me and put into the back of the car. The most important things to me were the flags I had collected from all the commonwealth nations I had visited. I was taking them home to fly. Thousands upon thousands of miles of effort were put into collecting them and they were now gone. The officer never added this to his report. They were of no value to him.  

......After removing the front panniers he promptly pulled off the rear two and tent ripping and tearing at my equipment which found its way into the back of the car. The two without the knifes followed the bags and started up the car. The armed coward got in last. I ran and started punching the window as it sped off with everything..........

The officer handed me a copy of the report and left me in a room. The investigation was over after this transaction. It was at this point I realised what this officer had first said to me "Ah you are the boy from the beach?" How did he know that? I had only just met him. How could he know I was down by the beach?

I may have lost everything but the challenge continues. I am not going to let this scum ruin everything I have worked so hard at. 


  1. Well written. Must have been terrifying. Well done for getting straight back on the bike. Shows true grit! good luck

  2. Most important thing to remember is that you're ok and you are able to continue with what will be an incredible achievement

    Please let us know if we can do anything to help