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Published: March 8th 2012
Morocco as it is is a very fine place spoiled by civilization. (Richard H. Davis
February is the best time to take a holiday to a warmer part of the world, especially when it decides to be the coldest month of the year. As I leave my flat in the small hours of the morning to make my way to Gatwick, I still can't believe that in just a few hours I will see sunshine and feel the see breeze on my skin.
Morocco is my first venture into Africa, and there are a lot of expectations. But after a night of frantic last-minute packing and only three hours of sleep, the most important thing is to make it to the airport on time. Travelling with three people is already enough to make this part of the journey more complicated than necessary.
We made it. Three and a half hours later we were walking down the airport stairs, squinting in the blinding sunshine and smiling from ear to ear - 25 degrees, foreign language, different landscape and the whole day still ahead of us! What could be better? My only desire is to strip down the layer of
winter clothes, slip on a bikini, swap my boots for flip-flops and frolic around on the beach! Exploring and Camels
For the first four days, we are staying at a surfing camp in Tamraght (near Taghazout), called The Spot Morocco
). After we arrive at our villa, Villa Solaria, and unpack in our penthouse room, our camp organiser, Nicola, kindly offers to drive us to the nearby town, Taghazout, to grab some lunch. Tomorrow we surf, but today we explore! "It's really easy to get back," she says, "you can either walk down the beach, or take the bus to the camping site, then walk up the mountain or just take the main road." It seems a little confusing - which bus? where do we get it? how do we avoid missing our stop? But she reassures us it's pretty difficult to get lost, and armed with her business card we go on our first exploratory mission of the Moroccan seaside.
Nicola says people in Morocco like to talk to tourists. "They aren't trying to catch you out or anything," she tells us. And predictably, as soon as we climb out of her car into the sunshine
a man on the street approaches us. "Are you looking for a restaurant? Do you want some advice? Where are you from?" - the usual questions. We politely make conversation and try to edge our way towards the shops, but he is very persistent, and as we walk away from him down to the beach he follows with more advice. Is this the kind of friendly we are supposed to expect over here, or is he overstepping the line? We tell him we are going off to get some long-needed lunch, and he insists on leading us to a 'nice cafe' on the seaside. It's pretty hard to say no, so we follow.
The cafe serves non-alcoholic cocktails - the closest we can get to a start-of-the-holiday pina colada in a dry resort (the nearest place to buy alcohol is Agadir, where the airport is, around half an hour away by bus) - and slightly overpriced lunch, if Nicola's price estimates are anything to go by. Not that paying 100 dirhams (around £7.50) per person for lunch is out of our budget, but a less touristy establishment would cost us half the price. But the grilled fish platter is fresh and tasty, so we can't complain about the man's choice.
As we finish our food, we notice he is still hanging out on the beach, periodically glancing in our direction. A little creepy, we think, so decide to settle the bill quickly and head off in the opposite direction. He follows, in an almost comic chase sequence, appearing seemingly out of nowhere as we look away for a second. He is intent on making us ride his camel back to our village, and even offers an affordable price, but his sales technique leaves much to be desired, and we aren't convinced there won't be an additional, much steeper charge for getting off the camel at the end of the journey. Anyway, it's a gorgeous afternoon, so the idea of a stroll along the beach in the rays of the setting sun is much more appealing than an albeit exotic, but probably also rather uncomfortable ride. We make our excuses and meander our way off the main streets to do some exploring, encountering some goats, a child on a motorbike and a demolished building site, before quietly wandering back along the beach. We easily find our way back in time for dinner and feel thoroughly proud of our navigation skills.
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