After being in Morocco for almost a month, I had begun to digest rather poorly. Not hard to imagine considering the laughable standards of hygiene practiced here in Morocco. I could barely stand to look at Moroccan food any more, and longed for a simple dish of pasta with tomato sauce. So we decided we had enjoyed enough of Essaouira, and found a grand taxi to take us to Agadir, the “touristic” capital of Morocco. The reasoning behind this decision was motivated by a desire for good food and the need for Internet access!
The drive south was nice, at first winding through mountains covered with Thuya wood and Argane trees. The Argane trees are inhabited by the famous flying goats of Morocco, who aren’t actually flying so much as just climbing the trees to get to the tender shoots of greenery between the thorns on the branches. The Moroccans make an oil renowned as an aphrodisiac from the nuts that grow on the trees. By law they can only use the nuts that fall off the trees, only the goats are allowed to climb the Argane trees!
The second half of the journey, along the rocky seashore of the Atlantic, was beautiful. We saw a lot of places to camp and various little seaside resorts along the way. There were are a lot of vehicles from northern Europe, mostly caravans, along that stretch of coast.
Entering Agadir you pass the port on the north end of town, where a huge commercial fishing fleet is based. Along the road are numerous fish stalls and restaurants, with everything fresh from the port. The town of Agadir is very modern and clean, having been completely destroyed and rebuilt after an earthquake in 1960. The stretch along the sea is filled with high rise resorts and restaurants. The downtown area has all the banks, travel agents, shops and more restaurants.
We were lucky enough to find an apartment for two weeks with its own kitchen. The Apart-Hotel Igoudar is in a great location only a couple of blocks from the sea. We were on the top floor of a jumbled pile of apartments done up in modern Moroccan Kasbah style with lots of stairways, seven in fact, to get to our pad. The view to the southwest was great for sunsets. The landscaping of the condo grounds was lush and tropical, with bougainvillea and hibiscus blooming everywhere. Our apartment was well laid out and had a small kitchen, living room with bed, bedroom with two beds, as well as a nice bathroom with tub and shower.
Just outside the hotel were a lot of shops and restaurants, including a market with a large selection of alcohol, and a small selection of food. I was amused by the shopkeeper there. Nothing was marked with prices, and he sat at the cash register punching in whatever amount he could think of at the moment. Every time I shopped there the very same thing would have a different price! But the guy spoke seven languages and laughed at everybody all day long. Besides, where else was I going to go shopping?
The way of doing business with the shopkeepers becomes very tiring after a while, especially if you’re not an Arab! It seems the art of bargaining is bred into them, and they enjoy it. I like going to see an item for sale, and deciding on my own whether or not to buy it if I think it’s a good price. In Morocco you have to ask for a price, and then offer something absurdly low, and go back and forth until you think you are going to explode! And if you say, “no, thank you” and try to walk away, they cling to your arm and whine and follow you with tales of their starving children.
During the following week we enjoyed the sea, the sand, the blue sky and the nice warm weather. The Moroccans had a big holiday that week, which meant the grocery and just about everything else in town closed down completely. It was the Aid el Kabir, Festival of Sacrifice, in the spring when they slaughter a few million lambs, eat lots Kefta and save the hides for a rugs. The entire country seems to go home to family and friends for the week, and travelling is out of the question, so we stayed in Agadir and relaxed.
During our stay in Agadir we befriended
a nice Dutch lady at the Holland International Tour offices who helped
us find the apartment we stayed in. She also helped arrange the itinerary
for the next leg of our Moroccan journey. We ended up booking a weeks worth
of accommodations in a few towns along our way, Taroudant, Ouarzazate and
Zagora. It was a relief not having to worry about lodging and eating arrangements
for a while!
All images, artwork and content
Copyright 1999, Hip Inc.