On the second day that we had the car, we set off a little more nervously than the first day. We decided to drive up the Atlantic coast. P. was a little more wary about driving since he now had experience of being gaily overtaken on the inside, of flocks of sheep being shepherded across dual carriageways and of motorbikes with trailers laden down with enormous piles of grass weaving blindly through the traffic. We would have liked to visit Essaouira because so many people had told us good things about it, however it was just a bit too far. So we made do with Taghazout, a village on a magnificent beach adored by surfers and aging hippies. We stopped the car by the roadside to have a look at the panorama and a guy immediately jumped out of the bushes (that's how it felt anyway) and asked for parking money. We ignored him.
It was a lovely place. We ended up staying for lunch. Z had a pizza, which is what he had for lunch every single day we were in Morocco. It has to be said that the food in the hotel was pretty poor. The things that had been unpopular one evening (fish loaf made with sardines for example) turned up in a slightly different guise the following evening (deep fried slices of fish loaf). The dates were good though, as was the freshly squeezed orange juice. We quickly discovered that if we left wine in our bottle for the following evening, it came back with a good inch or two missing. But what could we do? Accuse the waiters in a Muslim country of drinking our Guerrouane Rouge? We switched to half bottles.
On Thursday we went to the fishing port. A man with the most amazing glasses latched on to us as we were walking in. They were wire-framed and round but the lenses were so thick that you couldn't actually see his eyes. "Je suis pêcheur" he said. The motor on his boat had conveniently broken down which is why he wouldn't mind being our guide. We followed him around the port and the boat-yard and the ice factory listening half-heartedly to his explanations about the fish landed and the boatbuilding materials. The port was really quite an impressive sight - hundreds and hundreds of men swarmed over the quays selling really quite paltry quantities of sardines and anchovies. And all the while I worried again about how much money we should give him. Inevitably he asked for the equivalent of a week's wages, and we gave him a quarter of that so probably far too much. He slipped back onto the crowd of fishermen his glasses glinting in the sun.
Souk-el-Had means the Sunday souk but it's open every day so we went there on Friday. We went expecting the worst, having been warned to negotiate the taxi fare before we went and to ask to be dropped off at a nearby hotel rather than the souk since otherwise we would be delivered straight to the taxi-driver's fake-guide friends. In the end we walked all the way there through some really bustling quartiers. Once inside the souk we sauntered through airy alleys of furniture and pottery and clothes and shoes and spices and fruit and vegetables and herbs and potions and we weren't hassled at all. All in all, it was a much better experience than the souks in either Tunis or Istanbul. Z bought a fake Arsenal shirt and we bartered a little in a light-hearted way.
If you want to see the fantastic view from the casbah which overlooks Agadir, one of the only buildings not destroyed in the earthquake, you'll have to Google it I'm afraid. We never made it up there since it was a bit hazy and we didn't think it would be worth it, and I was a bit anxious about what the difference was between the little orange taxis and the big green taxis and how we would negotiate the price and make sure the taxi waited for us. I had definitely settled into wary tourist mode.
That night we set the alarm for 2.30 a.m. for our flight back to Toulouse which to everyone's great relief went without a hitch. I don't think that our next holiday will be in Morocco but it was certainly an interesting experience and it's always pleasant to think that you've pulled a fast one on winter by stealing a bit of sun and the whiff of orange blossom. In the end, we're all on the make.