After our epic adventure camping in the desert with nomads and camels, we bussed it to the Moroccan-Atlantic Coast. I had wanted to camp in the Sahara and my friend, after a heavy debate and compromise, booked a three day tour with some other foreigners. Even though it was not generally my style, it turned out to be a fantastic trip! That was my dream. It was J.’s dream to spend some time on the beach. So, in the spirit of our compromise, I got him to the beach… my way.
After our evening arrival to Marrakech, we found ourselves standing on the street corner without plans. I hiked my pack up onto my back and plunged back into the old market night life in search of, an assumed, numerous guest houses lining the square. It was easy to find a guest house in the very building of our previous café. Like most guest houses in places I travel, it only cost a few dollars and we spent the evening with market food and the sounds and smells of Morocco below us.
The next morning we petitioned our waiter at the café on the best way to get to the beach and which beach was the best to get to. Thus we found ourselves with a slip of paper to hand over to a taxi driver who them dropped us off at the bus station. We were accosted by those who would sell us tickets and easily found ourselves led to a bus leaving for the city of Agadir within five minutes of our own arrival.
We overtipped the two men that got us to the bus and the man that put our luggage under it. My friend was terrible at encouraging this type of behavior, but as we didn’t have time for me to make my normal arguments and deals, we paid and boarded the local bus.
After a rather boring trip, we arrived at the coast. Because we were the only foreigners on the bus, a plight I find myself in regularly, we had to navigate by following everybody else. When the bus stopped for food and prayer, we hurriedly got our food and then watched for the masses to return to the bus so that we could return with them.
The same went for exiting the bus at the end of the trip, which found us rather far from the city center and our chosen Lonely Planet hotel. This time I got to haggle! And we got in a shoddy cab by a driver who claimed in Arabic (through interpretation by another in French) to know where he was going and didn’t. Ended up at the wrong hotel, one that was FAR more expensive then the $30 we had planned on spending. In the cab-driver’s defense, it did have one word that was the same as our chosen resting place.
After another short cab ride by a much better cab-driver, who conveniently spoke English, we found ourselves where we wanted to be.
Evening was approaching quickly now and my friend had desired to see the beach at sunset. So we hurried through the streets toward the west. Barred by condominiums and fences, we were getting frustrated and the sun was sinking ever lower. Had we known the way already, it would have taken us only five minutes. Instead, it was more like twenty.
We missed the sun. But the beach was still warm and the sand still soft. We took off our shoes and ran to the waters of the Atlantic. Feeling adventured out for the day, we ate at a beach-side McDonald’s. Walked a little down the beach discussing, rather unrelatedly, computer science, and then returned to our room for much needed sleep.
Agadir had been hit by a devastating earthquake a few years before. It was a very modern city with tourism in mind in it’s rebuilding. We were taken to the harbor and driven right up to huge fishing vessels. Driven to the top of the city to overlook the cove. And after viewing some Mosques and boutiques (where percentage was given to those cab-driver’s who brought tourists), we ended up at a fabulous souk where we did the mass of our gift shopping.
Unlike the old market in Marrakech with it’s overpriced, shoddy goods that forced tourists to negotiate, the products at this more modern, multi-story souk were pre-priced and reasonable. And they were furthermore of fantastic quality! One woman was assigned to us who spoke English very well. She went through the entire store with us. Helped me try on a beautiful Moroccan woman’s shirt, listened to our requests and the descriptions of our friends/family for whom we were shopping. She even made fun with me when my friend was looking at yet another carpet. Cross-cultural gender-jokes are fun!
After our shopping spree we strolled down the boardwalk and had ourselves some more fantastic Moroccan food.
The next morning we hailed a taxi to take us to the down-town bus station and started on our way, once again, to Marrakech. At the bus station, though, we were recommended to another cab-driver who was going back to Marrakech, where he lived, for the same price as the bus ticket. With another local man and a young female student who spoke some English, we taxied all the way back to Marrakech. A much shorter trip and another new way to travel.
After one more trip to and a few more hours at our old-market café, we took a taxi to the airport for our evening flight to Manchester. A flight that was delayed until midnight and put us in Manchester in the wee-hours of the morning.
All-in-all, Morocco was an amazing destination. A place that I would revisit in a heart-beat given the opportunity. But, like all my other trips, there are other places to see in this world. So unless it is a specific person or opportunity that takes me there, I will spend my resources traveling to new places and to new adventures.