We awoke early the next day. I’d double checked the car rental information and to my horror discovered we actually had to be there by 11.30am as any time after that, staff in the office could break for lunch, meaning we’d have to wait a good three hours for the office to open again.
To add to my naturally panicky personality, we also read that we couldn’t simply show our booking confirmation on our phones, instead we had to have the policy printed in physical paper form. Reading this small print, and then glancing around our utter bombsite of a room, I quickly delegated in my bossy way, that Julien should pack the bags and ask the wonderful driver, Yassine, to give us a lift to Downtown Morocco to pick up the car, whilst I went out to find a printer.
Again, into the souks I headed, however this time alone, and a little unnerved at the thought of getting lost without Julien by my side. However, these are the moments I thrive in; where I hold my head up and pretend I’m Beyoncé and I’m all independent…I say pretend; putting myself in situations I’m not comfortable with do actually result in me being a whole lot braver than I think I am when with another, be it friend or boyfriend.
After having plenty of men trying to redirect me to the “square”, which roughly translates to “my shop”, I eventually made it to Jemaa El Fna. Bearing in mind I’d asked a lot of places about printing on the way here, and got nothing but very strange looks, don’t find it odd that I found myself in a pharmacy asking about printing services. It was quickly established that I’d be getting no printing along with my mosquito repellent, and with my broken French and the pharmacist’s broken English, we managed to jointly draw a fabulously child-like map of a place that could cater to my needs. I bided my “merci’s” and my “au revoir’s” and trotted into the hustle and bustle of snake charmers and nappy ridden monkeys with my post-it note map, and finally got to the printers.
A fair few too many dirham lighter, back to the riad I plodded, stopping for some breakfast, which of course consisted of the beautifully freshly squeezed orange juice and a naughty croissant.
Yassine drove us speedily to Downtown Marrakesh, during which I was watching the traffic and desperately trying to pick up some Moroccan driving rules, alas however this just put even more panic into my system. Anyway, we picked up the car rather effortlessly.
As I sat there in the car, with the crazy Moroccan traffic whizzing past my left, I took deep breaths, and gave Julien a severe warning to tell me (as navigator) about each left or right turn within plenty of time, or else we’d basically both be snuffing it at the wheel.
To his merit he was very good at this, bar his sometimes forgetfulness that holding up an old school paper map, four metres wide, does actually impair my driving somewhat. After a few comical spats, and a lot of road range and profanities, we found ourselves on the toll road, whizzing through the dessert, and away from the more than hectic traffic of the city.
If I remember rightly, we’d agreed to head to Casablanca, however the lady at the car rental office had advised us against it, so as we came to a fork that one way lead to Casablanca and one way lead to Agadir; we randomly chose the latter.
Speeding down that massive open highway, with the windows down, wind in my hair and blaring out old Oasis and other 90s classics (most of which Julien was begging me to stop, and much to my denial, probably rightly so) however, I’ve never felt so free and happy. I felt like every stress and strain I had back at home had just lifted, and had my adventure pal; my partner in crime by my side, and nothing else mattered.
After much driving, we finally started seeing more buildings, and realised we were approaching the city of Agadir.
To put it simply, Julien had tried to persuade me to book a room before we’d left, so we could just rock up somewhere and know we’d have a room for the night. But being the persistent, and wannabe free spirit that I am, I’d insisted that we just find somewhere when we out there. However what I’d not kept in mind was how I had no idea what Agadir was like, and how it’s far bigger in its suburbs that what I’d imagined.
So to cut a long story short, we spent a good two ours or so, melting in the car and eating Oreos / trying to find Internet cafes to help find us a hotel for the night, and finally discovered affordable availability at a place called Hotel Almoggar Beach, down at the far Western end of the beach front.
The hotel was nice enough, but did stink of package holiday to be honest. As we sat by the pool, we were asked whether or not we’d like to participate in the pool volleyball, or the water aerobics, whilst we listened to “DJ Almoggar”. Far be it from me to decide on someone’s taste in holiday, and with the greatest respect, I just feel that if you are reading my blog, and enjoy the sound of the things so far (majorly revolving around culture and somewhat roughing it) then you also would not particularly feel very fond of either Hotel Almoggar Beach, nor the town of Agadir itself.
Saying that, we spent two nights and three days at Hotel Almoggar, soaking up the sun and baking in the heat. With Julien’s company it was much more enjoyable though, and we spent the days eating Pringles, fish and knocking back the G&T’s (not all at the same time however) and just being happy.
In this time I experienced my first and only Hammam Spa. Experience being the operative word here. So I’d decided one overcast morning, that instead of attempting to tan, I’d go for a traditional Moroccan spa treatment. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any availability until around 7pm. During the day, the overcast skies seemed to diminish into glorious sunshine again, and with this, out came the G&T’s. So at 7pm, with a slightly fuzzy holiday head, I shoved my loose fitting shirt over my bikini, and hobbled on down to the spa section, after giving poor old Julien strict instructions to be ready for dinner in an hour and a half.
In I went, and was given a paper thong, a pair of slippers and a white cotton robe. I was told to change into these and to head downstairs. Not knowing which way was back and which way was front on these incredibly suffocating short term underwear, I awkwardly shuffled down the stairs, after stopping to rearrange more than a fair few times, to find myself in the basement of the spa. Here, I was greeted by a lovely Moroccan lady, whose English was as good as my Arabic, or even Cantonese for that matter, as she guided me into a big wet room and ordered me to undress. Luckily, I used my drunken initiative to realise I was required to keep my make shift underpants on, as she left me alone for 15 minutes. SO what do you do in this time, you may ask? Well, with my minimal knowledge and optimal embarrassment, my understanding of this experience was to “cleanse” and wash. So I picked up a bucket and poured it repeatedly over my head until the lady returned.
At this point, it got REALLY confusing, as she then proceeded to take off her clothes, and wrap herself in a cotton towel. She instructed me to lie down on the great marble slab, covered in water. I slipped and slid all over this thing, as she rubbed mud into my skin. If any of you are thinking at this point that I am trying to make this sound at all erotic, please let me reassure you that this would be the furthest from the truth. I honestly can say I felt like a sea lion that was moored on a beach, with the added feeling of not having a clue what I was meant to be doing.
She let the mud soak into me and left the room. As this occurred, the mud rubbed into my face, combined with the water in the wet room, started seeping down into my eyes. She left me here for a good 15 minutes as I grew increasingly blind and agitated.
After covering me in a few different mud masks of sorts, she left me to relax with a mint tea in a separate room of the spa, with my towelling robe back on and covering my modesty.
Feeling like I may had been forgotten, I had to request to leave, and ran back up to the room, and to my horror discovered I’d been in there for around 2 and a half hours.
I quickly jumped in the shower and prepared myself for dinner with Julien. We walked on down to the beach front, and along the harbour, where as the sun set, we saw the Western cliff light up to reveal, written in Arabic, “God, Country and King.”
We had a lovely meal however decided that tomorrow, it was time to leave the package holiday style resort, and set off exploring further along the coastline in our little Hyundai.