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Published: January 4th 2011
In the morning we headed into Essaouira Martin found a tortoise while gathering firewood, which he brought back for everyone to have a look at. He put it down outside his tent and went to get the camera... and then got distracted for a few minutes... absent a total of maybe 3-4minutes maximum – but on his return the little blighter had vanished! I mean seriously... a tortoise the size of a rugby ball managed to vanish with an average speed of .5km per week... amazing.
The drive from our bush camp to town was only a couple of minutes and afforded glorious ocean views the whole way – it’s easy to see why Cat Stevens (sorry.. Yusuf Islam) chooses to live in this lovely spot. We were staying about a 15 minute walk along the beach from the town centre, and as the campsite was very basic and full of European pensioners in giant motor-homes, we headed off to check it out pretty quickly.
The town is very small and extremely picturesque, it is set in a tiny peninsular and is dominated by docks that house dozens and dozens of fishing boats – ranging from tiny 2-3 men dinghies
to large commercial trawlers. No surprises that the town is famous for its seafood! Unfortunately, due to very strong winds no boats had been out for two days so the local fare was not exactly fresh. Tim, Bunny and I wandered the streets of the small walled medina and stopped for coffee in a secluded courtyard, where we made the acquaintance of a very personable kitty who Martin taught to dance.
We did a spot of shopping and explored the town and the docks; which to be honest doesn’t really take very long at all. We stopped for lunch in a sheltered promenade just off the beach and enjoyed a 3 course set menu which was fabulous – we will miss tagines when we leave Morocco! The walk back to camp was extreme, the howling wind left us sufficiently sand blasted by the time we got back – so much so that we are sure we have never been cleaner! On the plus side, the fierce wind meant our washing dried in a remarkably short time so that was awesome.
The following day was a lazy one. We hung around camp, had potentially our last hot showers of
the entire trip (!) and played Boulez. Martin collected some more firewood and Bunny forged a stamp for fraudulent use – no details forthcoming on the blog!!! That evening, Miranda, one of the Dutch passengers, told us of the legend of Sinterklaas – a lovely tale, based somewhat on the western Santa Claus, the best part of the story being that if children in Holland are bad... they get sent to Spain!! Hahahaha. She finished the story by giving us all some delicious little cakes and sweets she had brought for all of us all the way from Holland :-)
The next day we left early for our final two bush camps in Morocco proper, before entering the ‘contested territory’ that is the Western Sahara! We stopped in Agadir after a scenic drive down the coastline, which was littered with surfers and tourists soaking up the sights and seaside. Agadir was a special stop for two reasons:
1 – Hasty claimed this was the last Mcdonald’s until Capetown for the truck (several people have a bet with him that this can’t be true – seems a poor bet considering he has done this trip about 10 times!)
– The last Marjane supermarket (which means the last truly ‘western’ shopping opportunities).
As you would expect we all gorged on macca’s and bought heaps of snacks and treats – including chocolate covered oreo’s... my god they are yummy! At the Marjane they had a security guard on the door of the liquor area to stop muslims buying booze – pretty funny being approached by 40-50 year olds in business suits asking you to buy vodka for them!
The next day was another stunning drive along the coast; we stopped for lunch on a deserted cliff-top and were humbled by the magnificent views across the ocean – absolutely glorious. We stopped at a giant blow-hole about 50 metres from the edge of the cliff – it must have been at least 20m across and 30+m deep, a pity the tide was out and it wasn’t ‘blowing’ – still, very impressive none the less.
At about midday we crossed into the Western Sahara, there is no border crossing of course, as the Moroccans firmly believe that there is no such place – it is simply ‘Southern Morrocco’! Morocco had been a blast, but we were itching to
getting into ‘Africa proper’ and the Sahara seemed like a great place to start ;-)
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