Mission To Morocco (Part Four)

We sprang out of bed, stuffed our faces and our backpacks and got into the car to explore some more.

We drove East bound (I think?) and up and over the hill, near the ruined fort of the city.

Luckily, we thought to purchase
some more fuel before getting further away from the city, something I am very glad that we did, as I wrongly anticipated how rural the drive was going to be from here to Essaouira. As we pulled into the forecourt, I don’t think the multiple men noticed Julien in the dark passenger seat beside me. Without the risk of sounding vile and big headed, I feel that due to cultural issues we’d already encountered at this being a very male dominated society, they did somewhat attempt to take me for a bit of a ride so to speak. Out came the smiles and the “madams” and the soap and water being shot all over the car, the sponges, the assumptions that I wanted a full tank, and possibly to even have the car waxed. The other customers there at the time, seemed to be just offered a top up of fuel, and very casually.

Obviously I tried to be a strong and independent women first, and shout about getting their sponges off my car, however I suffer from the eternal girl issue of the louder I shout, I higher pitch my voice reaches and no one really notices I’m saying anything. So with that Julien got out the car and rectified the situation better than my shrieking hag voice, and we happily hit the coastline with a half washed car and exactly the right amount of “sans plume” in our tank.

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We slowly wound along, following the Atlantic Coastline to our left. The scenery was stunning, and the hot African sun belting down on our arms through the open windows. I insisted, as usual that I torture Julien with my Renaissance Classics blaring out the speakers, and me singing full power “That’s The Way Love Is” by Ten City.

As we drove we passed through many different kinds of settlements, whether they be more catered towards the surfer tourist, or some untouched goatherd communities staking a camp beside the road, each was equally mesmerising in their own way.

As we drove further along the N1, the towns became a lot more few and far between, and the ones that we did encounter were certainly not for catering to tourists, and instead were simple Moroccan communities, getting by and living their day to day lives without in needs of bars and hotels, which in actual fact was a really refreshing side to see.

IMG_5722 At one point, nature called, and it called suddenly and loudly, and I found myself in desperate need of the loo. We were approaching a small town (I’ve since tried to look this up, however Google Maps seems to think it didn’t exist) so I pulled up the car, grabbed some culturally appropriate trousers to wear over my shorts, and asked Julien to stay in the car to watch the belongings.

With a few Dirhams in my pocket, I asked around the bustling streets about the possibility of a toilet. Again, my embarrassing level of French made this experience even harder, as I struggled to explain I would pay someone to let me use their loo.

After a few odd exchanges, a man pointed in the direction behind me whilst nodding his head enthusiastically. I took this as very helpful directions, and started walking that way. I walked behind a butchers, where the meat was hanging out in the hot sun, and goats heads displayed on a table, with flies feeding off them. I could go on but I don’t want to disgust anyone.  So here’s a picture instead.

Goat head

I scrambled over a wall, and waded through some old rubble and broken bicycle parts, until I reached a sort of community hall where a group of local men were smoking cigarettes and seemingly having some sort of intense debate. I walked past this and found an old man leaning on an axilla crutch, standing outside two padlocked doors. I assumed this must be it, and simply asked “toilette?”. The old man shouted something aggressively in Arabic, and two seconds later a small boy came running along with a set of keys.

He unlocked one of the doors and gestured for me to enter. In I trotted, suitabley scaring myself that if anyone wanted to lock me in there they totally could, and no one would ever know, and I’d meet a grisly end in a small dark and wet room. Obviously that’s just my side of the brain that has watched too many silly horror movies, and of course I was allowed back out after finishing my business, and paying the boy a few Dirhams.

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I made my way back to the car, to find a slightly worried Julien. Turns out he’d had the same nasty “what if?!” thoughts that I’d had, and had realised without a phone, and no idea where I’d gone since passing the decapitated goats, that probably wasn’t our wisest decision.

However, all was well, and off we drove again. As we passed more beautiful ocean to our left, we saw stunning mountains and rock falls to our right. Soon the road took us away from the ocean, and veered inland and into the hills. This was a test for my driving, as it certainly got very scary at points, with hair pin bends as we ascended and a lot of lorries that over taking had to be timed well with.

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After much wiggling around the roads, we finally were back on the straight and narrow, which was much to my relief.

Before coming to Morocco we’d heard about the goats that climb the Argan trees to reach the fruits, which they love so much. If you Google this you will see THE most incredible photos of goats literally standing in trees, on tiny little branches. It’s almost like an illusion. We’d read up and asked around about where to find these, however hard we’d been looking, we just could not find these goats in trees.

The closest we came to finding these, was on the drive to Essaouira. We were driving along the road and saw one little goat standing in a tree. We screeched the car to a halt, grabbed our flips flops and cameras and ran to the trees. The goat promptly jumped from the tree, back onto the floor, just like any other regular goat. Out from the trees, two goatherds came running out with big grins on their faces, offering to place the goats in the trees for us. After picking up a few goats and trying to place them precariously on branches for us, whilst the goats, obviously just weren’t having any of it, I settled with simply having a cuddle of a baby goat and again having to part with a few Dirham.

Goat

After a couple more hours on the road, we finally came into Essaouira. Thankfully we’d thought ahead and had booked a reduced fancy hotel that was really easy to find on the sea front, called Atlas Essaouira & Spa.

We checked into the room, and immediately hit the pool. It was so nice to be in somewhere so luxurious and not having DJ Agadir blaring in my ears.

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After we got showered and changed, and walked along the beachfront to the original medina and the fort.  This is the city that we completely fell head over hills in love with. We knew it right away.

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