Monday, March 02, 2015

A week in Morocco

This was one of those last-minute holidays. We knew we wanted some winter sun so I looked at all the cheapest last-minute deals possible in places where the temperature was above 25°C. The South of Morocco came out on top for both cheapness and warmth so off the four of us went to Agadir.

We were flying out of Toulouse, Bordeaux being much more expensive because of school holiday dates. We got there in plenty of time for our 1 p.m. flight, grabbed a quick sandwich and went through security. Little did we know that we would still be there twelve hours later and that in all that time, since we had no access to shops or restaurants, we would have ingurgitated no more than the one sandwich, the measly packet of crisps and the tiny bottle of water the airline gave us. (I'm not naming the airline for the moment because I've applied for compensation and I don't want to jeopardise our chances). A combination of snow in Lyon from whence our plane had arrived (late) and some sort of technical hitch with the "flaps" meant that we had to wait for them to bring in a replacement plane from Liège in Belgium. It didn't arrive until almost one in the morning. By this time one couple had left with their tiny baby forfeiting their holiday because they simply didn't have enough formula with them to last through the night (breast is best people); a couple of respectable-looking women had had a fist fight over access to an electrical socket to recharge a mobile phone; another woman had collapsed; and a crowd of crazy passengers were shouting at the police demanding they "do something". Fun times!

We eventually got to our hotel in Agadir at well past 3 a.m. local time, 4 a.m. for out tired and weary body clocks. We were shown to two frankly mediocre rooms looking over a building site, and promptly fell into bed. Just as we were falling off to sleep, the telephone rang, and there was a knocking at the door. The kind night porter had found better rooms for us at the back of the hotel overlooking the pool. So we got up again and trundled through the corridors in our pyjamas, and fell into the beds in our new communicating rooms. By this time it was almost light.

Skip ahead to the next afternoon when E and I went to the hammam with another French family. We were sitting in the steamy heat, covered in black soap when one of the other women opened the door to catch a breath of fresh air only to see the Moroccan woman who had soaped us up rifling through our bags in the ante-chamber. Pandemonium ensued with much shouting and crying and the other French family eventually storming out. We stayed, but it had spoiled our nice relaxing afternoon. The woman was apparently sacked, but not before she'd given us a good scrub down.

After that, there was a little tension in the air. We wanted to get out of Agadir, which to be honest is not the most beautiful city in Morocco. It was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1960 and was rebuilt in a modern, concrete style. P. thought it would be best to go on an organised excursion in a minibus, but I fancy myself as an independent traveller and was all for hiring a car for a couple of days and heading for the hills. I won, of course. But once we got out of town our first stop, Taraudennt, proved to be a little bit too authentic and we spent the early afternoon racing round the town centre looking for sights to see, closely pursued by fake guides and menacing carriage drivers. Times are hard in Morocco and tourists are scarce at this time of year — we were sitting ducks. We saw nothing of note and nowhere that looked inviting enough to eat in.

So off we went to Tiout on roads bordered by argan trees. As we drove into the village we were hailed by a man with two teeth who wanted to be our guide. We gave in and said all right we would have a quick look at the palm grove. Two hours later we staggered back to the car having seen a lot of interesting things but also having been subjected to a lot of veiled questioning about our opinions on Isis and Jews and beards. I had spent the entire visit agonising over how much money we should give him - how much is enough but not too much? In the end he was disappointed but we stuck to our guns, and then of course spent the whole journey back to Agadir in the evening rush hour regretting not having been more generous.

To be continued......


auntiegwen said...

Blimey, that's an eventful start!!! I was delayed flying out on Friday by 3 hours but miraculously they managed to get us landed just before the 3 hour compensation time limit! funny that

Lesley said...

@auntiegwen I had no idea about the compensation being paid out depending on how late you are. I do now though and I'm secretly hoping that this holiday is going to pay for itself.

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Being confined indoors most of the day, just the four of us, is reminding me of the days when my children were wee and most of our weekends ...