Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Moroccan Adventure

While Iberia begins to appear small for the tiny Honda Today :-) a plan started to build up in my mind. My initial idea was to take advantage of the ultra recent ferry connection between the southern coastal city of Portimão (Portugal), the Portuguese Madeira and Porto Santo islands, and the Spanish Canary Islands. This ferry connection is ran by the company Naviera Armas, and just started operating one month ago. The same company also held the ferry connection between Puerto del Rosario (in the Canary Island of Fuerteventura) and Tarfaya in the Moroccan coast. This would be perfect for a tour like the one in the map on the left.

While working on this plan, two difficulties arose. Firstly, the connection between Portugal and Madeira/Canary Islands operates only once a week. This would be too less for my time window, if I wanted to take my time bumping around in both Madeira and the Canary Islands (as I always like... I hate to rush...). Secondly, the most severe restriction. I found out that the Assalama, the ferry boat that allowed the connection between Fuerteventura and Tarfaya, had sunk last April 30th! (see Youtube video here). Even though there are rumors that Naviera Armas intends to replace this connection with a ferry connection between the Canary Island of Lanzarote and Agadir, in Morocco, there are still no official news (the ones that matter) from the company.

Well, this forced a change of plans. I'll leave the relaxed island tour for later. I decided to head to Morocco "only". What?? Morocco, with this tiny hair dryer (as some of my friends call it... :-) )? You must be kidding... Oh no... I'll do this again with my faithful Honda Today. And not "just Morocco". I've been in the country before, and this time I'll try to stay away from the tourist beaten tracks. The High Atlas mountains (the highest elevations in northern Africa), the berbers, lost villages, altitudes well above 2000 meters, August heat in Africa... will be some of the things I'll experience... if all goes well. As always, I go with no rigid plans, but with some background in my readings about the places I want to spend some time in. The story, the pictures, the video... well... you'll find them here, later. :-)

The Beast

Well, ok, an Honda Today... But what does it look like?

Quite simply, it's one of the tiniest, lowest horse power 50 cc scooter ever made. However, it's a reliable Honda scooter, with it's own charm. Incredible fuel mileages can be achieved with this beast. I got 100 MPG (2.35 l/100 km) in my last year six day summer trip! Surprising, specially taking into account I'm not lightweight and the poor little baby was fully charged with luggage.

The only real complete review I found in the internet was the one by the site The Scooter Review. You can read the full review here. Thanks, Ketzal "Hollywood" Sterling , for the great review. Below are the manufacturer's specifications. It's time for a picture of my "touring" ;-) Honda Today version.

Manufacturer Specifications

Max power at shaft 2.8 KW (3.8 HP) @ 8000 RPM
Max torque 3.6 Nm at 6500 rpm
Engine Type Single-cylinder 4 stroke OHC
Cylinder Capacity 49cc
Seat height 695mm
Dry weight 71kg
Kerb weight ---
Fuel tank capacity 5.0 liters
Starting Electric & Kickstart
Transmission CVT “Twist and Go”
Storage volume ---
Cooling Air Cooled
Bore X stroke 37.8 x 44.0 mm
Compression ratio 10.1:1
Chassis Underbone
Front suspension Telescopic
Rear suspension Unit swing arm
Front brake Drum
Rear brake Drum
Front wheel/tyre 80/100-10 46J
Rear wheel/tyre 80/100-10 46J
Length 1695mm
Width 630mm
Wheelbase 1180mm
Max speed (km/hr) ---
Type approval ---
Consumption (ECE applicable text cycle) ---
Consumption @km/h - km/l ---
Audible Indicator Yes
Full helmet storage Yes
Glove box No
Fuel Guage No
Trip Meter Yes
Seat release (via remote control) No
Seat release (remote, ignition/switch) Yes
Alarm no