A Travellerspoint blog


Essaouirian Life and France Bound


sunny 32 °C

Fresh from two weeks of travelling on second rate buses; eating roadside bbq's of meat offcuts; cold showers; squat toilets and the complete absence of the english language. The Australian welcome at the very 'chilled' riad "Dar Afram" in Essaouira's medina came as a comforting surprise. The riad, hidden down a small Moroccan alley has no signing indicating it's location except for a small "Dar Afram" and guitar on the front door; giving a little incite as to the overall vibe of the riad; music.


Taz the Moroccan/Australian from Newcastle with his completely aussie accent showed me round th riad with it's 5 floors and rooftop terrace looking out over Essaouira and the atlantic ocean.


The Riad's musical vibe is in no small part as a result of Taz's dad. Owner of the riad he travelled the world with his band "Dar Afram" during the seventies and eighties and brings his musical talent to the riad with regular outbursts of singing and guitar jams. The Afram feasts are served at around 8 each night; cous cous, tagines, soups, fruits are all served in the communal dining area filled wih traditional Morocan lounges surrounded by slowly burning candles. Providing the perfect atmosphere to chat away the night passing around the odd 'Morrocan delicacy' whilst jamming on the digeridoo and guitars.


Essaouira has had a massive boost in the level of tourism over the past few years and this has resulted in the opening of several clubs, or 'boit de nuit'. On my second night I had been given the directions to the club and began to walk along the medina wall; I walked past a restaurant with a few men standing out the front and asked one of them if they knew where the bar was;
'upstairs' whispered the big moroccan. Five flights of stairs later the floor opened out with a DJ, stretched bar and around a hundred people, mostly westerners, were lounged about drinking a few 'illegal' Beck's and Heineken's. The price of alcohol in Morocco is about twice that of Australia especially after midnight when the prices go up even further; this doesn't seem to affect the Morrocan's however as they tend to be fairly out of it after one or two beers. When I was at the bar talking to a girl from Sweden and just avoiding a fight with a drunk fifty year old Italian; I heard another familiar accent from across the bar and was invited back to the 'Australian' table; the group of three blonde, one brunette Australian girls had a swarm of Morrocan guys around them trying their hardest to impress the 'beautiful foreign goddesses'.
"You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen." and
"I am a pro kitesurfer" seemed to be their favourite pick up lines for the night. We sat around in the Morrocan lounges until around 2; chatting, drinking and dancing, to sweet arabic beats.

For the next few days I felt like I was back in Australia with all my time spent with Australian's; drinking, bargaining in the souqs, jamming on guitars and tanning on the riad roof.


After the night before's hassles from the Morrocan guys; we ended up chillin in the riad and drinking classy Morrocan wine into the night. With the music being provided by someones mobile; Young Mc - Bust a Move.


The Aussie girls headed back to their jobs in London; Taz continued to work in Morocco; and I headed off to Marrakesh to catch my flight to France. With a few more glasses of wine to kick off easter and to mark an end to a sweet adventure along the coast of Morocco.


An Australian couple Anouk and Nathan who were travelling round the world with the theme of hiking in mind had just arrived in Morocco from Nepal and were off to the High Atlas to trek some more; they had hours of stories from Nepal to tell and made my trip seem like luxury in comparison to some of the things they had to deal with.That arvo I managed to score a lift on an earlier bus to Marrakesh allowing me to avoid missing my plane.

I then arrived via taxi into the chaos that is Marrakesh airport on the last day of the Easter long weekend. With ticket machines bursting open; "free plane ride anyone?";


Delays, cancelations and more delays; it began to feel as though no one was going to get out of Morocco that night. Each plane tha arrived was accompanied by cheers from the hundreds of people sitting around on the floor of the Morrocan airport doing their best to pass the time.


Three American girls I was talking to had a really good story;
They are studying in Barcelona and had come to Morocco for a week; they had a plane to Barcelona that morning but slept through their alarm and missed their flight. Because it was easter, everything was booked out but there was a flight at 7pm to Madrid from which they could catch the 5 hour train to Barcelona. They waited at the airport from 7am till 7pm to be told their plane would be delayed by an hour. Then an hour later they said it would be a further hour; then an hour later they announced it would be delayed again for an hour. Then finally at aroun 10pm they were told that the flight had been cancelled. The Easyjet representative stood up and told this crowd of a hundred fuming Spaniards and the three American girls, that they promised they would have an alternative flight for them to Madrid within.......
yes....within "14 DAYS!". Welcome to Morocco.

I was lucky and my flight was only delayed by 4 hours leaving at 12pm; I arrived in Marseille at 4am and everything in the airport was closed. By this time I had been awake for 21 hours; I then had a 4 hour wait in the airport which involved constant trips to the espresso machine. It is now 12pm and I am finally settled in; in an hour I will have been awake for 30 hours and after the hassles of the past few days; I am definitely ready to sleep.

Morocco was incredible; a country of many colours with something to appeal to everyone, I will definitely be back. Amazing Adventure.


Garrett in Marseille; France.

Posted by clancy_of_ 23:39 Archived in Morocco Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Coast Road;

Essaouira; Morocco

sunny 27 °C

The day had arrived; where Sidi Ifni and my 5x3m room were to no longer be my home. The sunsets, waves, poker nights, pool games, excited kids, didgeridoo jams, tagines, cous cous and the amazing Sidi Ifni crew were to be left behind as Yoan and I embarked on our 5 and a half hour journey north to the coastal town of Essaouira.


The winding narrow roads didn't help my raging stomach which was already recovering from a few nights of street side barbeques at $1 a burger. And the unexpected culinary adventure that Renaud and I embarked on; when amongst the meat in our sheep tagine we came across a well cooked sheep's testical. With true moroccan spirit and after several minutes deliberation we decided to go halves; and slowly but successfully ate the Moroccan delicacy.


We arrived in Essaouira just after sunset; it was the start of the Easter long weekend and the town was packed with tourists. After the slowness of pace in Ifni and the complete lack of tourism the bustling medina with its souqs and hustlers felt a bit to much. It felt exactly like the scene of The Beach; where after a few weeks in a tropical paradise, returning to the usual tourist route makes you realise just how good that paradise you had was. We searched around for the hotel Riad Dar Afram ran by some Australian Morrocan's; but they were booked for the night. Yoan had lived in Essaouira for a couple of months and new a sweet location just south on the beach where we could crash and sleep in the car; we drove down the 4WD track to the beach where we crashed for the night, and awoke to the sounds of some small waves breaking just over the dunes.


Yoan headed off at 8 the next morning to continue his trek up to Spain; whilst I went back to Dar Afram to crash and begin my few days exploring the souqs, medina and beaches that surround this sweet little coastal community.

Garrett in Essaouira; Morocco.

Posted by clancy_of_ 07:00 Archived in Morocco Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Didg Jam in the Foreign Land;

Sidi Ifni; Morocco

sunny 30 °C

For over a week now Sidi Ifni; the small spanish enclave on the edge of the Sahara Desert; has been my home. The slow pace of the small city is very noticeable and seems to cause every day to blend in with the next; with surfing, pool, eating, sunsets and the occasional wander into the markets making up the list of daily activities. The hills which surround the city enclose it and enhance the feeling of isolation that is present from the moment you first arrive in Ifni.


The wind has been offshore for two days now and a nice 2m swell has been running along the coast; causing the right handed pointbreak in front of the town creativley named 'la droit', to be working nicely. The tides here are fairly regular and the surf session for 'la droit' is at the moment lasting from about 11:30 till around 4:00 in the arvo. Yesterday at 12 the wave was working the best it had in a long time and every surfer in town was on the water; yes all six of us.

The trick to Ifni is finding what to do when theres no surf; yesterday morning it ended up being a didgeridoo jam in the streets with the local kids with Renaud taking photos and Yoan doing his best to play the stick from oz.


The hallways which lead down to the front doors of the lime walled homes provide a sweet resonating sound for the didg; causing the sound to be much louder and attracting the attention of most of the kids playing soccer in the streets.


They all wanted to try and play and would just take in turns blowing into the didg then run off laughing when the sound they made was nothing like what the expected, or like some kids it made no sound at all.


Along the beach just north of Sidi Ifni is a Spanish fisherman living in a cave overlooking the sea; always very welcoming he'll excitedly talk to you about how the waves and surf has been lately over a glass of mint tea.


The town is filled with some of the most crazy and interesting people I have ever met; like the 60 year old eldery lady who lives on the beach in Ifni and lives here when she is not at Oxford in the UK. The elegantly speaking english lady proceeded to tell me and a friend that she apologises if she is rambling because she's just been down the beach and thinks she might have smoked just a bit too much 'kif'. The arabic word for cannabis. Or like this old dude roaming through the markets;


Last night Renaud and I and these two english girls, Beth and Lindsey who were heading south to Ghana, went to the Hotel Suerta Loca for a mint tea to chill away the night. Around 11 ocklock the hotel restaraunt started to close and these three arabic musicians one on electric guitar and two on bongos started to set up their equipment, a french guy who is in Ifni with his girlfriend ran up to his room and got his guitar aswell; I headed off and grabbed my didg. We spent the next 2 hours jamming into the night to a mixture of Bob Marley, Led Zepplin and anything we could make up. The crowd of around 25 crammed into the little restaraunt kept the beat going with some costant clapping; whilst the rest of us played until the absinth tea wore off and the cous cous sunk in and all I felt like doing was sleeping.

On Wednesday Yoan is making the 20 hour drive up the coast to a town just east of Tangier to catch the ferry over to France; I'm going to head up halfway with him to the coastal fishing city of Essaouria; spend a few days there and then head into Marrakesh for my flight to Marseille in the south of France. It's been a sweet experience in Morocco; from the surf to the people and not to mention the sweet African sunsets.


Garrett in Sidi Ifni; Morocco

Posted by clancy_of_ 04:15 Archived in Morocco Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

New experiences;

Every moment of every day;

sunny 22 °C

The surf has been onshore for two days now but the swell is lifting and it is swinging offshore tommorow morning; this morning Renaud and I went and had breakfast with these two hot french / arabic girls he knew. All was good until we left the cafe and I felt really uncomfortable as every man in the street from age 20 to 35 was just staring at us. After we walked home and got inside Renaud and Yoan starting laying down a few of the Moroccan laws to me;
One; Have sex with a girl outside of marriage and expect a good five years in a Morrocan jail. The fact that there were more laws to come didn't really concern me as that initial law meant that I think I will spend my last week and a half in Morocco just surfing playing cards and pool.

Whilst this law is true; it is only of concern when you are with local women and especially in smaller towns in the south of the country such as Sidi Ifni. In tourist spots such as Agadir, Marrakesh and the north coast the law is almost disregarded.

Im living pretty well in Sidi Ifni at the moment; I'm spending about $8 (AUS) a night on accomodation and I have a shower, dvd player, kitchen the works. Go out to dinner every night for $3.50 and get half a chicken, chips, salad, bread, mint tea, vegies and dips. And then during the day just make avocado, tomato and olive sandwhiches for about 90 cents each; and get a glass bottle of coke for 50 cents.

Ohwell it's lunch time so I'm going to head off and get a cous cous and get ready for an arvo match of poker; sorry about the lack of photos but I'm recharging the batteries.

Garrett; Sidi Ifni; Morocco.

Posted by clancy_of_ 03:27 Archived in Morocco Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Lone Surfers;

Sidi Ifni; Morocco

semi-overcast 25 °C

As you enter the walls of Sidi Ifni, with one edge of the town nestled in the mountains and the other opening out onto the sea; you really feel as though you are entering another world.
With swell is building and the wind slightly crosshore; there is never more than three people in the water and a lot of the time you can be alone. With deserted beaches stretching out in front of you and surf all around it really it feels like a lost paradise.


The town has it's characters, and none more so than the local surfer Ahmed. As passionate for surfing as the pope is for religion he spends every day on the water; this thirty year old Morrocan started surfing at the age of 18 and is at home in the waves.
The two french travellers;
Renaud; the photographer.
Yoan; the lost surfer.
Provide hours of entertainment from our intense games of pool to the hours spent surfing, or the casual sharing of a Tangine au Poisson.


This morning Renaud and I hit up the beach; for an early morning session. With the swell picking but the winds slightly onshore it wasn't perfect, but with the whole beach to yourself it makes it all worthwhile. I had some fun waves and Renaud did his best to captre the moment.


The town feels as though everything was built from scratch in the 1950's and nothing has been altered since; with it's decaying Spanish art deco lining the walls of every house it really is a place that must be seen to be believed.


Garrett in Sidi Ifni; Morocco

Posted by clancy_of_ 08:25 Archived in Morocco Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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