Published: March 23rd 2012February 24th 2012
By Friday evening, the surfing adventure had taken a wrong turn. The self-proclaimed three musketeers (Joe brought the French classic with him to read on the beach, I thought the title fitting) have fallen one after the other. The first to fall was Joe himself, struck down by the all-British ailment known as “lobster syndrome”, in other words a severe heat stroke, which kept him in bed all of the third day. Not that he missed much—the waves were so strong that surfing was off the agenda in the morning, and we wandered around the coastline of Taghazout instead, basking in the sunshine. I was struck down by a more London-specific illness, also known as exhaustion-induced flu. My second day of surfing was cut short when, after a couple of hours in the water, I realised I only had enough strength to crawl out onto the beach and sit shivering in the sunshine for the rest of the day, hopelessly trying to capture the elusive heat of its rays.
Kristina was the last to fall, but she did this so spectacularly that it demands a paragraph of its own. Unlike me or Joe, she was struck down by something much
more solid—a surfing board. It happened on the third day. In the afternoon, Fadel (our surfing instructor) said we could try and go out into the sea. The waves were still strong, but it was our last day there, and most people were keen to get their money’s worth. Kristina was the last one standing of our trio—Joe was stuck in bed, and I decided, after changing my mind back and forth, that two hours of attempted surfing were not worth suffering in bed for the last two days, which we had planned to spend in Marrakesh. I sat on the sand and took my book out of my beach bag, preparing to relax while Kristina braved the waves. I could see the surfers from our camp struggling against the current, armed with bright yellow boards, as I lazily leafed through my book. They were all struggling—the waves were relentlessly smashing against their wetsuits and dragging them back towards the beach. Suddenly, I saw Kristina crash at high speed into Laura—one of the new arrivals—and both of them disappear in the white foam of the wave. Seconds later, she reappeared above the surface of the water, Fadel leading her by the shoulders. She walked up to me, covering the right half of her face with her hands. “Want to see a magic trick?” she said, and took the hand away...I have never seen someone’s forehead double in size and turn blue so quickly! She was laughing, which suggested that she wasn’t in too much pain, but I still couldn’t help inhaling sharply in shock. Luckily, there was a cafe nearby which was kind enough to provide mountains of ice and comfort food. Later, a Norwegian girl from our camp who worked with children said the kids at her school that got hit on the forehead were called “Donald Duck”—“because of the bulge.”
So that was that: the dream team struck down one by one. Joe was firmly stuck to the bed for the whole day, and even the promise of evening entertainment didn’t fill him with new energy. But we didn’t give up. It was Friday, the last night by the sea coast, and we were determined to “party like the locals.” Armed with a lot of makeup for Kristina and a lot of painkillers for myself, the two of us bravely agreed to go out with the group, leaving Fadel to organise an authentic Friday night experience for us in Taghazout. Agadir does have nightclubs, for those who would rather dance the night away the traditional way, but we wanted to experience something different. There are no nightclubs in Taghazout, since it’s still an alcohol-free zone, so the locals tend to gather on one of the numerous roof terraces of the local villas to enjoy a bit of a smoke and a couple of drinks, smuggled in from Agadir, or even from the U.K., in our case. Moroccans are all businessmen, whether by nature or due to the financial pressures of their lives. Fadel organised an enjoyable evening for us, but I couldn’t help noticing that the restaurant he chose was owned by his friends and the villa belonged to a jolly old man that could have easily been his father or uncle, who charged us a small fee for the use of his roof. Not that it wasn’t worth it—a night by the seaside with the sound of waves crashing underneath would win over a sweaty and crowded nightclub any day. The only downside for me was the feeling that my entire head was clogged up with cotton wool as my flu worsened throughout the night, exacerbated by the smoke and the night chill. The concept, however, is oh so attractive, and if only I could have one of those villas to myself—my roof parties would be epic!