Friday Morning 21/02/2014
We emptied and filled the Water which took ages as the tap was so slow. Judy decided to fill some extra bottles as we were heading for a wild camping spot we had heard of and ended up getting a French lesson from some ladies who were doing their washing up at the sinks because she had used the verb “etre” (to be) rather than “avoir” (to have), all good fun.
Finally after paying the 66dh for the night we set off from Riad Assllaf just a couple of km to Tisnit so as to have a mornings walk in the town and see about a large satelite dish as we had just heard that the satelites had changed and we now needed a 1.1 mt dish at home but we had forgotten it was Friday and most of the technical shops were closed as it was a holy day, so after doing a bit of grocery shopping which included a loaf of bread of a type we had not seen before which was about 30cm in diameter and lumpy and puffy with quite a dark colour, we will try it later.
The journey to the wild camping spot was via probably the smoothest road we had ever encountered and was bliss except for the last few miles but only 55km in total today.
We arrived at the tiny fishing Port of Sidi Boulfdail at about 15:00 to find what looked like a small walled village with about 30 Motorhomes parked outside it’s walls so we found a nice spot at the top of the cliffs with a great uninterrupted view across the sea to hopefully good sunsets. After a walk in the village which turned out to be modern fishing storage units leading down steps to a large concrete apron with all the small rowing fishing boats only about 7 mtr long. There were two tiny shops selling most things and probably kept going by the campers at the moment as a Belgian guy we met told us that they were not able to fish at the moment because the sea was too rough.
Getting back to our parking spot we saw a GB van so went to have a chat. They were a young Australian couple who had taken a couple of years out, to come to the UK and buy a camper and travel round Europe for a couple of years with their five year old son. What a lovely experience for them all.
We sat to have a drink and watch the sunset and discovered that all the French were coming to just in front of us and throwing their rubbish bags over the cliff. We spoke to the Australian couple again as they returned from a walk and she said that she had already had a go at one of them and just got the Gallic shrug saying “That’s what the Moroccans do”. It may be what the Moraccans did and to a certain extent still do but they are learning and most of the larger villages we had encountered now had road sweepers and rubbish collections and anyway, they bring their rubbish they can take it away with them till they find a bin, we just hoped they didn’t start coming and emptying their loos in front of us. Unfortunately the French Motorhomers are getting a very bad reputation because of their behaviour, we just hope it doesn’t rub off on us all.
We decided that we would only stay one more day there even though it was a beautiful place, but spoiled by the Arrogant French.
Sunday 23/02/2014 08:45
We left the little port and headed along the coast to Inzegane where we knew of the big market selling all sorts of electronic and computer stuff to look again for a satelite dish. Ismail had taken us there last year so were sure we would find just what we were looking for. First we went into the now covered Municiple market, it was enormous, probably about 500mtr long with about six isles of closely packed mini shops. It was packed with families shopping on Sunday which is a family day. Having browsed about half the market we moved on to the other with many electronics shops and found quite a selection and soon found a very good quality dish made in Portugal with a stand for about £26 then caused quite a bit of amusement walking through the town carrying it back to the Motorhome.
We set off for Aouri just North of Agadir, where Ismail lives, we met up with him at about 15:30 and spent a very pleasant evening and afternoon chatting and catching up with Ismail. The next morning we headed back to Inzegane market with Ismail as Judy had liked the style of shirt he was wearing with a short stand collar to buy some for Steve, unfortunately they were a summer item so nobody had any, we are walking about in shorts and tee shirts but the Moroccans are still in wooly hats and overcoats. So we walked back to the van and had some lunch then drove back to Tagazoute a few miles north of where Ismail lives to meet up with some friends we had met in Tafraoute, who were wild camping just off the beach with about a thousand others, well it was actually Guardian Parking and very well set up. We finally found Alan & Karen and spent a very nice afternoon chatting together with Ismail explaining many things about Morocco, we left a bit late and ended up travelling in the dark which is not good because it is difficult to spot all the pot holes!
On Tuesday Ismail suggested he showed Judy how to cook a traditional Tagine so we went shopping in the village then they set to assembling the dish while Steve installed email and Skype on the laptop Ismail had bought since we visited last year. The Tagine was fantastic but the computer setup took a little longer than planned so we had to leave soon after the dish as we had promised to meet up with Alan & Karen again before seting off towards Marakech via Esourria.
We took a walk into Tagazoute which is mainly a surfers town with a few shops selling overpriced Morocan tourist items so we didn’t spend too long then set off towards Esourria. It was a nice drive across the mountains and we arrived at the car park by the port at about 14:00 but had to wait for cars to leave before we could get a space, it was very tight and we saw a couple of cars get bumped, but we got a good place which was not too vulnerable.
We had a really nice wander round the tourist shops and bought a couple of the wooden items which we had seen the previous year, which the town seems to specialise in made from wood from the Argan tree. It got very cold so we went back to the van to warm up and have dinner before coming out to explore further. After dinner we managed to find the local market street which was very busy with people walking out for the evening, a really different experience.
We got up early to walk into the port to watch the fish being unloaded, but the boats must have landed really early because everything was cleaned up and finished, shame but another year.
We left the port at about 09:00 to drive to Marakech and arrived at a parking spot Steve had found on the French camping car site. It was guardian parking in a small lay-by off the road behind the large Mosque with room for just five Motorhomes but much better than the lorry park nearby where we had stayed a few years ago. it was expensive at 100dh for the night but it was in the middle of the city and we heard later that the lorry park was the same price.
It was just a 500mtr walk to the large square where everything happens. We spent about three hours exploring the enormous Souk and Medina then went back to the van for a rest before the evening. As we walked through the square they were starting to set up all the pop up eating places for the evening.
As we walked out of the square an interesting thing happened, a guy collided with someone on a bike which started a bit af shouting and the start of a fight. But within seconds about twenty guys moved in pulled them apart and walked them away from each other and calmed them down to send them on their way, so quick and gently done. I think in the UK every one would have walked in the other direction or watched them fight. Such a gentle sort of people we meet everywhere in Morocco.
After a rest in the van we went out at about 7pm to enjoy the square which by then had been transformed into a gigantic multiple Resteraunt. Each outlet with three or four touts scrabbling to entice passers by into their establishment. We will put some pictures up on our gallery, just go to the blog and click on the picture of the blue building. The touts got a bit persistent with us which annoyed Steve quite a bit but we walked round and round finally deciding to have some Harira, which is spicey Morrocan soup which was delicious about £1.50 for two large bowls and two loves of bread to eat with it.
We then walked along to another stall which Judy thought looked best which had brochettes, declined the offer of an upturned milk crate to wait for a seat which then turned out to be in full smoke from the bar-be-que. So got up and walked along to another place which had plenty of room because they had a double sized stall.
As we decided all the staff started clapping and cheering because they had won our custom. There was a loaf of bread on each place then two bowls of tomato based sauce were put in front of us, one sweet and one spicey. We ordered chicken brochettes and chips which arrived in just a few minutes, six skewers and a big bowl of beautiful chips each. The chicken and the chips were great and well cooked and the sauce was really good. So we ended up with a for us a good meal. Then we had to pass all the others asking, why didn’t you eat with us. The Moroccans are past masters at inducing guilt for great effect. So we returned to the van, full and pleased to have had a very different experience.
We left the parking at 09:00 heading for a natural arch we had heard about on the way to what we had heard were the best Cascades in Morocco. We were looking for a petrol station that took credit cards and noticed one next door to what looked like a supermarket. Well it turned out to be a cash and carry which acepted ordinary customers. It was very clean well stocked with reasonable prices and a wine section as we were getting a bit low. After the shopping we filled up with diesel and he also let us fill up with water.
Along the road we turned off heading accross country and Steve spotted a little shop with traditionaf Tagines outside. We had been looking for one but Ismail had told us what we should pay and the shops in Marakech were asking ten times as much.
So after a few minutes the shopkeeper finished with his customers and came out to see us. We had decided on a size so asked how much, he said 30dh which was exactly what Ismail had said we should pay, but he said you don’t want that one because this one is far better quality, which it looked, ok we said but how much is that one? 30dh he said, the same, in Marrakech the better looking ones were twice the price of the rustic ones. He was also trying to speak English which he said he had been learning from a Sinbad the Sailor book he had in English. We had a great ten minutes chatting to him and went on our way well pleased with our purchase.
About two hours later we came across an enormous market in the middle of nowhere so just had to stop. We were quite a curio walking about, we decided that we also should have a smaller Tagine so asked the price, 15dh, no question of inflating the price for tourists. We had a great hour walking about and also bought a straw hat for Judy as the sun was very strong on her neck.
After a bit of lunch we continued to the Naturel Bridge but had trouble finding it but eventually after directions from a Policeman at a checkpoint we found it at about 4pm and started walking down the very many steps only to be soon accompanied by a young Moraccan guide. He pointed out where we should put our feet when climbing over rocks and a few sights along the way like, at one particular position the shape of the opening looked exactly like a map of Africa. Well it was a great experience and we were glad we decided to come this way after all. We then had the long climb up of I don’t know how many steps, but they were regular and we took our time. When we reached the top our guide just wondered off without holding his hand out, I know we didn’t ask for him but Judy thought he deserved something so went and gave him a few dirums which he seemed pleased with.
After the Natural Arch we had to backtrack about 11km to get on the road to the Cascades and it very soon got dark so we had difficulty finding somewhere to stop for the night, but eventually Steve spotted a small space on the right hand side of the road and we backed into it and managed to get reasonably level and we had a nice quiet night with no traffic disturbing us.
We woke early and found that we were only about 10km from Camping Zebra which was where we intended to stop to visit the Cascades d’Ouzoud so took things slowly so as to give some campers time to leave the site. Then drove to arrive at 09:45. We received a nice welcome from the Dutch lady owner who invited us to participate in a Moroccan Buffet meal they were organising that evening. The site was very clean and very well organised but a slightly higher price than the area deserved.
We walked to the Cascades which were very impressive, we walked down the steps then up the long steep climb up through the woods on the opposite bank which was the way the site owner recommended although we had read that it was easier the other way round. But we were glad that we took her advice because the climb through the woods was dusty and slippery which could have been more difficult going down.
When we returned to the site later friends from the MotorhomeFun.co.uk group we were members of, who we met at Tafraoute arrived and there was another English couple also like us in a French registered van so the evening meal turned out to be quite fun.
We decided to stay for a second day and get the sheets and other clothes washed and dried and a bit of R&R and chatting to our friends.
We left camping Zebra just before 11:00 after filling and emptying and saying goodby to our friends who we were unlikely to meet up with again in Morocco. We were heading for a wild camping spot we had been told about by a lake which also took in a fantastic scenic drive over the Atlas Mountains, with breathtaking views of a large reservoir as we went over the top of the mountain, it was a beautiful azure blue then a stunning decent and under a tunnel and straight over a hydro-electric dam. Then another climb to be presented with a fantastic view of a large flat plain as we again went over the top it seemed that we could see the whole of North Morocco, then another stunning decent. We finally arrived at our wild camping spot at 17:45 which was 1.5km of the road along a very bumpy track. The place was amazing on a spit of land jutting out into another very large reservoir. We arrived just in time for a fantastic sunset.
Judy must have eaten something odd last night and had a very bad night on the loo she was in pain and very I’ll in the morning. At about midday we decided to slowly move as she had used all the medicine we had on board so we had to find a Pharmacy. Unfortunately every one we passed was closed but finally found one open at about 14:00.
We had again been told about a really scenic drive and after taking some medicine Judy felt up to it so we took the turning. The drive turned out to be extremely rough and at one point Steve failed to see a rock which was in the road and managed to cause a bit of damage to the bodywork of the Motorhome. When checking later he also found it had hit at the back and snapped off the drainpipe from the waste tank, which will make things quite a bit difficult. So a bit of repair work to be done when we get home. Unfortunately although the scenery was good it was not up to the standard of yesterday so it is a bit sad that we sustained damage unnecessarily.
We arrived at Camping Amazigh near Azrou just up the road from the amazing Disneyland palace site we had stayed at on the way down but thought we would try it for future reference.