It was New Years Eve day, after conducting the routine morning ‘Bag Walk’, which is how I now refer to what has become our daily morning routine to collect our freshly baked Baguette from the local patisserie, I got on with the domestics on the van and Shazza set about squeezing the juice out of another bagful of Oranges which she had bought from the man at the entrance gate to the campsite, on our way back in. We would be going out tonight to a Moroccan restaurant, with our French neighbours, Gerard and Arlette, to celebrate the New Year and watch the Fireworks on the beach so we decided on a fairly relaxed day, which was good news as that meant no surprise short notice ‘Shazza Expeditions’ !!
Our Spanish neighbours had, on a daily basis, kept us supplied with fresh fish and the occasional plate of ‘Iberico’ ham, today ‘he’ had taken his usual motorcycle ride to the Port and returned with an Octopus !! We had watched him, every day, out of Big Mommas window as he first prepared whatever it was that he had purchased, and then watched as he commenced cooking it. He had become accustomed to seeing both our faces pressed up against the window, watching his every incision and slicing, skinning and degausing of fishy entrails and at regular intervals he would look up from his work table and beam a big Spanish smile at us, it was as if we were watching a ‘Celebrity Chef’ performing to an audience on a daytime TV programme. The bonus being that we, his audience, got to sample the finished product !!
We spent the rest of the afternoon just lazing in our reclining sun chairs, outside Big Momma, and at the ‘allotted’ hour we watched the regular daily gathering of the French ‘Petanque Club’. It’s strange but this ‘Lifestyle Change’ has also had an impact on some of Our ‘former’ housebound habits, in recent years before ‘Fulltiming’ we didn’t bother staying up, watching the same old ‘crud’ on the TV, we had opened our bottle of ‘Fizz’ early, gone to bed well before the chimes and then awoken the following morning to what was just another day, with one notable exception, it was a holiday so no work to get up for !! However, last year, as you may well recall, on our first Fulltiming Winter, we were up into the wee small hours seeing in the ‘New Year’ with Two Hundred and Ninety Portuguese !! This year I suspect that we will once again be up into the wee small hours, isn’t it amazing what a lifestyle change can do for you !!
Now how can I put this, but let’s just say that Arlette, our new-found friend and French neighbour, is ‘Vertically Challenged‘ so on this New Years Eve she had chosen to wear shoes with very big heels !! That meant that, instead of walking along the Promenade to the restaurant which we had selected to frequent, to enjoy bringing in the New Year, we would be going instead by taxi. I am beginning to think that ‘Agadir’ must have been the inspiration for that ‘Jon Anderson & Vangelis’ 1981 song, ‘A State of Independence‘ (probably better known by some when Donna Summer had a chart hit when she did a cover version in 1982). Everything that I had read about Morocco certainly stated that Moroccans do not celebrate either ‘Christmas’ or ‘New Year’. Well I can tell you, first hand, that they do. At first I had thought that it was only the Hotels and Promenade Restaurants that were simply catering for the ‘Western Winter Sunseekers’, however, that misguided belief has now been well and truly shot down in flames. I think that ‘Agadir’ must have declared itself as ‘An Independent State’ from the rest of Morocco. The roads were literally chock-a-block with traffic, bumper to bumper, and here that is exactly what that expression means !! The public and private car parks were already full, their were cars parked abandoned on the side of the roads, on pavements and any bit of waste ground they could find, the place was heaving. The Police were out in huge numbers and very visible and I did wonder if this was to ‘police’ the Western revellers. However, when Arlette asked the Taxi driver why there were so many Police he replied, “It was to police the Moroccans, when they drink Alcohol, they get crazy” !!! Not only have I really warmed to the Moroccan people for their friendliness and willingness to help but now added to that growing list is one of trust, not our trust of them but their trust of us ! We got to our destination and asked the driver the natural question, “How much ?”, his response “No, you pay me after I pick you up at 1am, 2, 3 whenever you need and I take you safely back to Campsite“. Now come on, where else in the world would a ‘cab driver’ not take a fare and trust that he would ever see those same passengers again ? This was not to be the only occasion where we witnessed such trust, but more about that later.
We arrived at the entrance to the restaurant, it had been transformed from the ‘decor’ of the normal restaurant livery into one much more befitting of a ‘Party’. We walked through the tent sort of affair that had been erected, gave our names and whilst we waited to be shown to our reserved table we were each handed a glass of ‘Alcohol laced’ fruit punch, and very nice it was too. Apart from the ‘Arrival Glass of Fruit Punch’, Alcohol was not included in the cost of the evening but we were presented with a drinks list, Soft drinks, Beers, Wines, Spirits (all Branded names) and of course Champagne, but at €100 and €60 a bottle we gave the ‘fizzy‘ stuff a miss and ordered a bottle of ‘Vin Rouge‘, which’ as the night turned into morning very soon turned into a ‘few’ more supplemented by the odd glass or three of ‘Cognac’, not Jack Daniels, well we were in the company of French friends.
I had imagined, based on the experiences of previous ‘set menu’ functions, that all the tables would be served together, but not here, each table was served separately, so no long lines of soup and main courses standing on a servery getting cold. The waiters all dressed in festive Christmas Santa hats with flashing red lights, it sounds cheap but actually it wasn’t, it added to the ambience of the evening. I am not sure that I could recall now every course, but with ‘canapes’, ‘Amouse Buches’ and ‘Sorbets’, Fresh thickly sliced ‘Norwegian’ Salmon, Lobster Bisque, Tornado Rossini’ and a thick chocolate ‘gateaux’ followed by Caffe, we did not go hungry. The food was cooked to perfection, they even asked how we wanted our ‘Filet of boeuf’ cooked, and it arrived as ordered !! The service from our assigned waiters, we had two, was attentive, friendly and very festive and no sooner as we had ordered our drinks and within minutes they were delivered to the table.
The courses, where appropriate, all arrived at the table ‘hot’ and not ‘Microwave’ hot either. The entertainment comprised of a Disco, primarily Western songs, everything from Rock ‘n’ Roll, Pop hits from the 60’s right up to current chart stuff and even Latino Salsa, and yes I did, those hips can still work their magic !!
The disco went on all through the night into the early hours, playing background music whilst the dining was being undertaken. The other piece of entertainment was the ‘Exotic Dancer‘. You have probably already guessed that this interpreted into being a ‘Belly Dancer’, however, I may ask for a partial refund as this particular lady did not have a ‘belly’, although on second thoughts, the lack of a belly was quite adequately substituted by other more well endowed parts of her anatomy !! This was no Fifty something year-old, mother of fifteen children, whose abdomen had seen better days, or that is what I had imagined seeing when I first saw the ‘entertainment item’ listed. A case perhaps of watching too many of those old comedy films with Sydney James, Eric Sykes, Hattie Jacques etc. ‘Carry On Up The Khyber Pass‘ sort of films !! No, this was a very shapely young Twenty Something year-old and very good she was too, at the dancing, just in case you were wondering !! With Shazza sat immediately next to me I think I succeeded in restraining one’s eyeballs from popping out of one’s eye sockets and I did occasionally divert my gaze to join in the conversation that was apparently going on at the table !! The thought did enter my mind though, if ‘Muslim’ women are supposed to cover themselves from the neck down to the ankles with no bare flesh exposed, at least in public, how did ‘Belly Dancers’ get away with it ?
At around 11:30pm we were each given a ‘party bag’, streamers, hat and a device that at first looked like a sort of ‘kazoo’, you know, you blow them and make an irritating noise, however, on closer inspection, I discovered that it was a weapon, much like a ‘blow-pipe’, but instead of poison darts our ammunition comprised of small round balls. You placed the ball in the end of the tube, selected a victim, then blew for all you were worth with all these balls either hitting people in the head, plopping into their glass of ‘fizz’ or inadvertently going down the front of females dresses or blouses. Did I say ‘inadvertently’ ? It was like being at a young child’s birthday party, but great fun !! A few moments before midnight the music stopped, there was a countdown, then a large cheer with everyone wishing everyone else ‘Bonne Anamee‘, French for Happy New Year. then everyone rushed, okay kind of sauntered outside in a well-ordered stagger, and watched the fireworks, and okay, this was not on the grand scale of London, Edinburgh, Paris, New York, Sydney etc. but it was a good and colourful display nonetheless. Now here is where that word ‘trust‘ came into play again, we had eaten our meal, ordered and drunk our drinks then left the restaurant to watch the fireworks. Apart from the deposit we had paid when we first reserved a table, we had not paid the balance, neither had we paid for any of the drinks we had consumed, all the restaurant had was our surname, no other details, we could have just walked away. Now obviously they would have caught up with us at some point, the hotels and campsites all take your passport details so the border police would have been on the lookout, but still, in the UK at least, all balances owing on such events usually have to be paid in advance of the actual event taking place, but not here !! After the fireworks display, which fortunately for us was right outside our particular restaurant, we returned to our table where the music re-commenced and the drinking and merriment continued. I am not certain what time we actually returned to the Campsite, I do recall that the last time I checked the time on my watch it said 03:00am !! The taxi was waiting for us and as promised the driver took us straight to the front gate of our Campsite and was duly rewarded !! Another fantastic New Year in another Fantastic Country with excellent hosts and new-found friends, I really love this fulltiming lifestyle !! Just before we switched the lights off in Big Momma, Shazza turned to me and said, “Where should we spend next New Year my luvver !!”………….
New Years day started in a bit of a blur ! Shazza was feeling a lot better than me but that is probably because she didn’t partake in the ‘Cognac’ part of the previous evening’s festivities !! She did the ‘Bag Run’ on her own whilst I got washed and dressed, slowly, very, very slowly, I hadn’t realised how bloody noisy electric razors were until today !! The order of the day was to sit in the sunshine and sweat as much as possible of the alcohol out through my pores !! I cannot say that I was feeling that much better towards the end of the day but after a Chicken Curry and Rice evening meal, we strolled, with emphasis on ‘STROLLED’, along the busy promenade, enjoyed a ‘Nus Nus’ and then strolled back to Big Momma. We rounded the evening off by watching a DVD, “Olympus Has Fallen“, which was very good and then thankfully snuggled back up under the Duvet, hopefully all would be back to some sort of normality when the morning sunshine arrived to greet us once again !!
As a footnote to the above, I have been delaying publishing until I got some more photographs from the ‘New Year Eve Celebrations’ downloaded to the laptop. unfortunately, it is beginning to play up so Shazza is trying to ‘Back Up’ all of our ‘Essential’ stuff before it actually gives up the ghost !! We trust you have all had a good start to the New Year 👍