Agadir is our first big city experience, previously having skirted around Fez and entirely avoided all other cities. We take the long route round the outside, to the north of the city. For once, park4night leads us the wrong way and we get lost in a rather posh area of Agadir, where every street has its own security personel in little huts, guarding large houses hidden behind high walls. Someone stops and tells us, in no uncertain terms, that we cannot stay the night here. While we are looking around for the car park listed in park4night, the spot marked on the map suddenly jumps to another part of the town. Half an hour later, we arrive safe and sound in an area that is much more to our liking – a large and varied souq at the end of the road, and just by the parking place, I spot a Hammam too!
We are both very tired, so we leave exploring to the next day.
I must have been very, VERY tired last night, because in the morning I find that I’d misread the sign – what I thought was a Hammam is actually a school for Immams! They are a bit alarmed as I walk in and ask for the Hammam opening times. I might well have been the first woman in that building
The car park is lined with Peppertrees and one end of it has a little city garden, with many different plants growing in old tyres. We strike up a conversation with the owners who sit in their little green paradise. There are a number of interesting plants, including a perennial Basil bush and one plant that self-seeded and they are waiting to see what it will be. It looks like a citrus fruit.
We had chosen this car park because of the vicinity of a mechanic for campervans, but when we cycle past it, we can see it’s not the right place to have Emma’s nipples greased. Our other mission is to meet someone by the market square who will have a computer charger for us. Ardent followers of our blog may remember that right in the beginning of our time in Morocco, my computer blew its battery, and ever since, I’ve been dependent on proper electricity which has meant a lot more stays in camp sites than usual. This computer charger will free us once again, as we can plug it into a cigarette lighter point.
It’s a Monday morning and we cycle through a busy industrial estate until we come to a large road that leads in a big sweep towards the sea, circumventing the King’s summer residence. We stop by a guard and chat to him about how to reach the King. We want to speak or write to him about our experience of Morocco. We end up having a long conversation with the guard about travelling, languages and families, and about the friendliness of the Moroccan authorities – the gendarmerie, the police and the military.
Then we cycle, by the side of some steps, down to the bay.
Agadir has made a big effort to present a clean, spacious and Europe-oriented seafront, and I think they’ve done a great job. It’s not my cup of tea, and I’d not fancy holidaying here, but for what it is, it’s beautiful: clean beach, many restaurants and a large promenade which goes on for miles. We enjoy cycling along it all the way to the industrial harbour, where Morocco returns with a vengeance and we delight in diving into the fish market. We buy a good-looking fish from a vendor who proves the freshness of his catch by throwing flounders against the wall where they stick for a few seconds before slipping to the floor.
Cycling back to Emma is quite a task. We hadn’t noticed just how much downhill was involved. 10km later, we are back at the van, well worn out and ready to leave the hustle and bustle. As cities go, Agadir seems quite a good one, but we prefer the countryside. We pack up and head further up the coast. There’s a little town called Anza just north of Agadir, where we stop off on the cliffs for lunch and a rest, before driving on to find a bit of hopefully deserted beach. By sunset, we are on a surfer’s beach, host to a wild pocket of temporary shacks, stray dogs, women on donkeys and barefoot boys playing football, all over-shadowed by half-built apartment blocks.
For a few more photos, click here
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That afternoon, we have an appointment with Latifa and Smahim who we’d met a few days before, when we cycled to their village along the seaside. Their children’s bikes needed some maintenance and Frank had offered to drive by, with all our workshop tools in the back of Emma, to fix them.
They live with their two children Sarah and Mohamed Ali on the edge of Douira, another little seaside village in the middle of the national park, where Latifa runs a tiny grocery store, out of a window giving onto the street.
After some Berber tea, Frank goes to repair the bikes and I sit in the sunshine chatting with Latifa, when who should come round the corner but Betoulla, the woman we gave a lift to about three chapters ago! She recognises us too and there’s a lot of laughter and explanation in about three languages to our hosts. It turns out, Betoulla is a travelling saleswoman, hitching from village to village, carrying her wares in a big bag on top of her head.
We arrange to give her a lift back to the main road later, which prompts Latifa to invite her to stay and share lunch with us all. There is a lot of humorous banter during the meal, as Betoulla is looking for a husband and a wife for her son. The wife should preferably be European, and she enquires about my two daughters – would they be interested in marrying a nice Moroccan man? I said, I could ask but that in our culture the young ones make their own decisions about who they want to be with/marry/ Ah, she shrugs, what a shame. But did I know of a rich old man who she could marry? preferably one who would die soon!
After dropping Betoulla back at the main road, we turn our attention to the mission of finding a recycling centre. The internet is not conclusive but there seems to be one in a village nearby, so we go in search. The first locals we ask don’t seem to know about it, but someone in a cafe knows and jumps into Emma to show us the way. Half a mile into the fields, there is is a fenced-off enclosure where construction work is going on. The foundations for a large building has been laid and there are huge mounts of predominantly agricultural plastic. We drive in and meet a few young people who tell us that the plant is going to be up and running in a couple of months. Once they understand that they don’t need to pay us for our rubbish(!), they gladly receive it and thank us for the initiative to pick the litter off the fields.
I have hope for Morocco. The general attitude and awareness for the plastic problem is much higher and more positive than anything we have experienced in Sicily in the last few winters, where people mainly thought we were bonkers picking up the stuff. Here, people help and also appreciate that while the situation has ameliorated since the national ban on plastic bags about two years ago, there’s much more to be done.
We finish off our day with a quick drive to the seaside for Frank to have a swim before heading off to Agadir, where we are due to pick up a parcel the following morning.
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