Saturday 13th December
I thought I would start this post with a few Photographs taken of the ‘Campsite’, however, not knowing whether some of you may be eating, breakfast, lunch or even Dinner whilst viewing I have left out the ones of the ‘facilities‘, you know the ones to which I refer, I didn’t want to put you off your food !!
Now I know that it will come as no surprise to you to hear that I have a ‘Love, Hate’ relationship with the ‘Work of Fiction‘, today though our relationship is harmonious because ‘they’ got it wrong, yet again !! It was supposed to have started raining at 03:00am whilst we slumbered, and then continued right on throughout the day and into Sunday. We awoke to a warm and sunny morning, a bit of a breeze blowing but still warm enough. Shazza had studiously read our ‘Travel Bible’ (The Rough Guide to Morocco) and it mentioned that El Jadida had a nice ‘Port‘ area (As in Boats and not the falling over juice sort of stuff), also the ‘Cite Portuguese‘, which are the remnants of an old fortified Portuguese town, and also a nice ‘Medina’. So, we set off to explore this ‘popular seaside town‘, not my words, taken from the travel bible !!
Now I do like to keep my blogs informative so two little bits of information about Morocco, first, it is the same time here as it is in the UK, which does seem strange but there you have it, secondly, the working week is Monday to Friday and they have weekends off like in the UK, again this was new to me as I had expected them to celebrate their weekend, much like some other ‘Muslim’ countries, during the week !!
It was an easy walk from the ‘Campsite’ up to the ‘Plage‘ (beach) then we turned to the left and just kept walking. Actually it was a very pleasant walk along the promenade, with the beach on one side and a handful of Cafe’s along the way, some down at beach level and others up on the promenade itself. Their were absolutely loads of kids playing football on the beach, not one big free for all but several groups having their own ‘kick about’s’. Their were lots of families walking along the promenade enjoying their weekend and if you thought that ‘Beach Donkey Rides’ were just a ‘British’ thing, then think again, only here it is ponies and camels, it can’t be because they have a shortage of donkeys, as we have witnessed that they have far more donkeys than you can shake a ‘stick and carrot‘ at !!
The ‘Port’ is at the opposite end of the promenade, a twenty to thirty minute gentle stroll from the campsite, as we approached the entrance, guarded by the Police, the barrier was down so we asked if it was okay to come in, they smiled and gestured that we were free to pass. There were quite a lot of people milling about on the Port roads, mainly locals, and those that were on their way out were all carrying polythene bags, of the opaque variety, so we could see that they contained fish. “So Watson, I deduce that if we walk a little farther, one will come across vendors selling an assorted variety of fruits of the sea“, well actually I just said to Shazza “I think there must be a fish market down here somewhere“, and of course there was, we looked, but on this occasion we didn’t purchase. Now I wouldn’t say that I have had a sheltered life, however, whilst I have seen ‘Tuna‘ in documentaries on the TV, and of course in tins on supermarket shelves, I have never, until today, actually seen a ‘whole’ Tuna in the flesh so to speak. The chap selling it told me that this particular one, laying lifeless across his makeshift table, and of course it would be lifeless because it was ‘dead’, was a mere baby weighing in at only 25Kg, but to my eyes, it was a whopper !! Other than the usual mixed variety of fish on show, which we were by now accustomed to seeing after ‘trawling’ through many fish markets on our travels, there wasn’t a lot else to see, so we walked back out and made our way towards the ‘Cite Portuguese’.
You instinctively know when you have found the place, the clue is a bloody big wall all around it !! We found the entrance and made our way in. I was expecting to find something like we had visited last year, when we walked around the fortified city within the walls at ‘Lugo’ in Northern Spain. I was quite disappointed, okay so I knew from the outside that this wasn’t going to be on the same grand scale, however, I had expected, with it being one of the major tourist attractions, that it would have been better maintained. It had a Main Street crammed full of ‘tourist tat’, with the usual vendor ploys of trying to get you in by shaking your hand, asking where you are from etc. etc. we were having none of it though, been there, done it, got the Tee-shirt. The buildings, in their day, would have been fantastic, many were now derelict and empty, and crumbling, but just as many, although still derelict looking and crumbling, were actually being lived in, it was more like a ghetto and not a place that either of us wished to linger for too long. However, before we beat a hasty retreat we did want to walk up onto the ramparts and take in the views. No sooner had we got up onto the outer wall ramparts than we were approached by a man, dressed in the traditional ‘Berber‘ hooded cloak, the usual pleasantries were exchanged, ‘where were we from etc.’, the long and short was that he wanted us to give him Twenty Dirham (€1.88) and he would provide us with a guided tour and tell us the history of the place, he obviously doesn’t read my blogs or he would have known that being a self-confessed history heathen that he was on to a loser from the start !! We politely declined his gracious offer and gave him Two Dirham !! Now some may consider us uncharitable for not utilising his services or for just giving him what would have amounted to £1.53, however, if you give to everyone who asks for Ten Dirham here and Twenty Dirham there, you will soon find your travel budget dwindling at a rapid rate of knots !! You may also call me cynical but I would put money on the grand tour being rounded off by paying a visit to his ‘brothers’ shop !! We made our own way around this very scruffy and dirty environment, took a few obligatory photographs, as you do, then got the hell out of there.
We crossed the road and headed towards what looked like a street market, it was a maze of alleyways and roads and we found ourselves in the town centre, where all the locals shop, no ‘Branded’ store names here ! It was totally unthreatening, nobody trying to lure us off the streets with a sales pitch of ‘I give you best price‘ or wanting to shake our hands and ask where we came from, before trying to lure us into buying a carpet, ceramics or a ‘hubbly bubbly pipe‘, no, we were free to wander at our leisure, in peace, amongst the locals. This to us is the ‘real’ Morocco, it was buzzing and even Shazza, who is normally quite tense in such environments, was relaxed and thoroughly enjoying the experience. So much so, that on passing a butcher’s shop she did a double take then dragged me back. Now out here you do not buy your meat all neatly packaged up and covered in cellophane wrapping, you buy it straight off the carcass. There is no bartering when it comes to food, meat and poultry comes at a set price, usually by the Kilo and fruit and vegetables are weighed all together. Shazza decided she wanted some lamb and pointed at the huge carcass, the butcher, a very jolly man spoke to us in part French part English, he used his finger to gesture where he thought she wanted it cutting, Shazza then said she wanted two pieces and with her finger, gestured where she wanted each piece cutting. I was stood to one side just watching the two of them, Shazza and ‘The Butcher of El Jadida‘, I was mightily impressed with the confidence she had in doing this and she came away with two ‘massive’ slices of Lamb for the princely sum of Eighty Dirham (€7.54 or £6.15). That was it, she was now in her element and quite enjoying the Moroccan style of shopping, she was loving it, smiling and saying ‘Bonjour’ as she passed the open fronted shops, which elicited a mutually happy and smiling response from the vendors who were either stood or sat in the doorways.
After wandering aimlessly up and down, as well as through various streets, and after making a few other ‘minor’ provisions purchases, we were completely lost, in the end I had to ask one of the shop owners for ‘direction la plage sil vous plais‘. We eventually got back onto the promenade and commenced our walk back towards the ‘campsite’. The large groups of youths that we had seen earlier, playing football on the beach, had gone and were now replaced by a proper eleven-a-side match with proper goalposts, not the heap of track suits used earlier by the groups of youths. Just off the beach the sea was stormy and wild, whipped up by quite a strong wind that had appeared from nowhere, yet still there were surfers sat on their boards waiting for just the right wave to surf in on. We stopped briefly and had a coffee at one of the promenade Cafe’s before finally returning to ‘Big Momma’. We had timed it to perfection as that strong wind and wild sea had signalled the end of my harmonious relationship with the ‘Work of Fiction‘ as the heavens opened !!
After getting on-line to get a weather update, we noted that the forecast was not good for our next scheduled stop at ‘Marrakesh‘, so we revised our travel itinerary, ‘Agadir‘ was 22 degrees(c) and sunny for the next ten days, we couldn’t see beyond that on our forecast. It would however, entail a really long drive, at least five or six hours, although, once there, we could rest up for a while as our intention was to stay there over Christmas and the New year. The route this time would take us on ‘Normal’ roads for the first half of the journey, before linking us back into the Motorway heading South virtually all the way to Agadir. This meant passing through numerous villages and towns, and of course, if all those stories we had been told were true, it would involve running the gauntlet of all those ‘lawless’ children who would be waiting for us, who would have no respect for ‘Big Momma’ and pelt her pristine bodywork with stones !! What was puzzling me was, how did they know we were coming ? Did they just sit by the roadside with a pile of rocks just on the off-chance ? One thing was for sure, and that was that we were soon going to find out one way or the other !!