When we reached this point, we had been traveling for a month in Morocco and we were totally exhausted. We came from a series of disappointments and bad experiences and we even considered shortening the trip and taking a totally different course, something that because of the geographical situation of Morocco was a bit complicated and, above all, very expensive: The easiest and cheapest way would have been to return to Europe but I could not enter the Schengen Area before July 18 for my tourist visa. Finally we got back on track and decided to continue with the three-month Moroccan plan.
On the other hand, we had just arrived in Agadir, a place that had no particular attraction for us and that although we did not know, being very prejudiced, we imagined that we were not interested.
“But then, why did you go there?” Because as I always say, the travels (and life) is full of unforeseen events. According to our original plans, at that moment we should have been in our volunteer work next to the Sahara desert, but as it turned out to be a scam and the 19 nights we planned to spend there became just 1. So we had to recalculate and we took the first bus that got us out of there. And as we were in an emergency, it didn’t matter if the destination was Agadir or the Belgian Congo, all we wanted was to leave. This is how we arrived at Agadir at random, and the 18 nights we now had “free” we divided as follows:
1 night in a night bus that took us out of Tagounite (it had air conditioning, so it was the glory itself!)
7 nights in Tamraght
6 nights in Imsouane
4 nights in Agadir
None of these destinations were in the original plan and emerged as a result of the need to improvise a new plan, without getting too far from the following destinations.
Before reading further, a clarification: what is this post?
This is a story of our experiences and is 100% subjective. If what you are looking for is practical and useful information for traveling in Morocco, with statistics and specific data, you can find all that and much more in this post Morocco: practical guide for travelers (by clicking here). Clarified this, let’s continue with the story…
Tamraght, the first of the trilogy
The glorious night bus left us in Agadir and from there we went to Tamraght, a small beach / surf town about 15 km from Agadir, where we booked accommodation for the next 3 nights. The town itself was quite horrible, everything that can be wrong in a coastal village which is surrounded by kilometers and kilometers of construction sites that do not reveal the ocean horizon and that in a few years will be mega Miami-style buildings filling this part of the Moroccan atlantic coast.
What was incredibly good in Tamraght was the weather. After the 42 degrees and the dry air we had in our brief and suffocating passage through the desert in Tagounite, the 25 degrees of Tamraght + the sea breeze was much appreciated.
In addition, after the last bad and hectic experiences, all we wanted was a shelter to rest for a few days, away from any hostile environment. And although we did not like Tamraght at all, we did not care too much either, because we had an accommodation that we loved, overlooking the sea, from which we saw incredible sunsets and from which we hardly left.
When the 3 days we had paid were finished, we arranged to spend the next 4 in the same place, helping the owner with 3 hours of daily work in exchange for free accommodation. We needed by any means reduce the unforeseen housing expenses that had suddenly arisen and this plan was heaven sent for us.
We were so happy in our house / cave / shelter that even shopping around the corner was a huge effort, it meant leaving our comfort zone. We had crossed more than half of Morocco traveling by hitchhiking, in long distance buses, local buses, trains and now walking to the corner seemed overwhelming. Our first month in Morocco had been amazing, but also, for one thing or another, it had had a speed that was many times dizzying. There was no doubt that we needed a break. We wanted to relax and travel slowly as originally planned.
That week in our house / cave / shelter, disconnecting from all the surrounding environment was what allowed me to do what I wanted the most: start working on this blog, which a few days later would see the light. We stopped seeing the exterior that surrounded us to pay more attention to our interior and we traveled for seven days without moving, through writing.
When the hostess told us that she no longer needed our help, we had to keep going and although at that time it was not what we wanted, that made us visit Imsouane, the surfer’s mecca of the Moroccan Atlantic coast, where we would spend the next 6 days.
Imsouane, the surfing paradise
Imsouane welcomed us with this mural, which could not be more appropriate.
In Imsouane we spend time divided between the sea and the writing, between the beach and the mobile office, between the computer and the surfboard. The blog was born from this tiny place in the world and with it a whole new chapter began that I had been waiting for a long time and that I am enjoying a lot.
In Imsouane, although we worked hard, we were able to rest physically and mentally from the hustle and bustle of the trip so far.
In Imsouane for the first time I put on a wetsuit and climbed on a surfboard. The beach of Imsouane is an excellent option for surfers of all levels, because it has very long waves and a shore that gets deeper very slowly. I did not have great pretensions regarding surfing, I did not intend to stand on the board, much less. I simply enjoyed being in the sea without being cold, which was already a total novelty for me, as also was sitting or lying on the board letting the waves move and lift me at will, while I relaxed more and more. Maybe other surfers looked at me and thought I was wasting the board, I don’t know; but I was much more than happy with it and that became one of the best experiences I remember being in water.
I think that the sea and the waves were therapeutic because Imsouane was for us a new starting point, from where we left ready to return to the ring and face the second half of the trip with renewed energies.
Thus we arrived in Agadir, where our Couch-surfing host Yasse was waiting for us.
Agadir, where we ate breaded chicken fillets in the “Moroccan” style
Before arriving, we had a lot of fears, we were still in intensive therapy about encountering locals, and staying at Yasse’s house meant re-trusting and being exposed to the world we had taken refuge from for the past 14 days. Would everything be fine? Would we enjoy sharing our time with Yasse at his place? Were we ready? Or did we need more time alone? Would it be some kind of scam again? All questions that were automatically answered the moment we met Yasse and entered his home.
But before continuing with that part of the story, I’ll put you a little bit in context, about the neighborhood where Yasse lives and the city of Agadir:
The city of Agadir, unlike many others, did not captivate us by its medina at first sight, but rather, quite the opposite.
Upon arriving in Agadir we found a modern city, and when I say “modern” I mean built according to the principles of the Modern Movement or Rationalism, an architectural trend that developed between the decades of 20 and 60 of the last century, mainly in Europe and the United States and to a lesser extent in other parts of the world.
And while I’m very much in favor of Rationalism, I didn’t expect or want to see it in Morocco. There I wanted to continue seeing medinas and cities with many centuries of history. Instead in Agadir, I felt like I was in a magazine of rationalist architecture, anywhere else in the world except in Morocco.
With the passing of the days, Yasse would explain to us the reason for this: it turned out that Agadir was not a modern city, much less, but a very old one that used to have a most authentic medina. But it was destroyed in a few seconds, the night of February 29, 1960 when an earthquake tore apart the city, taking the lives of 12,000 people with it.
This is why, when the city was rebuilt, it was done in the style and likeness of the architectural movement that was fashionable in those days, rationalism.
Returning to our arrival and meeting with Yasse, his neighborhood, which between the rationalist architecture and the signs in French, seemed much more like a corner of the suburbs of Paris than a part of Morocco.
I felt exactly the same upon entering his home, which did not look like anything we had met so far. And beyond the differences that could be in terms of architecture, furniture and objects that sounded familiar to me from other latitudes, the biggest difference was Yasse’s attitude.
When we arrived the house was messy because there had been a dinner the night before and Yasse had not had time to clean. And that, in another case would have not been a problem, but for Yasse it made him to apologize, to tell us that that was not at all normal and to start cleaning immediately. We offered help and there we were, five minutes after arriving, the three of us cleaning what would be our little Agadir paradise for the next four days. That helped us to appropriate of the space and feel at home in a blink of an eye.
All that combo, added to a warm and heartfelt welcome from Yasse were just what the doctor had prescribed us to feel comfortable again in our reunion with the local culture.
Of course, this “local” here goes in quotes, because Yasse is not at all a typical Moroccan. I will tell you his story, which I love because it is an example of perseverance and determination, which shows that nothing is impossible when we are clear about our goal:
Something that caught my attention in Morocco, is the number of languages spoken, and the case of Yasse is an example of the efforts that make it happen. His mother tongue is Arabic and when he started junior high school he had his first French class. There he found out that the rest of his classmates, who came from private schools, already knew quite well French and he, nothing. After the initial frustration of that first class, he realized that there was no time to lose, he had to catch up with his classmates by any means. Thus, he began studying French on his own, watching movies and listening to Edith Piaf.
There is no doubt that that effort and self-improvement were worth it: when he finished high school, Yasse went to live in France, where he continued studying and worked for six years. When he returned to Morocco, he not only spoke perfect French, but he had had the opportunity to live in another country (which is not very easy for a Moroccan) and see how the world works beyond the borders of his country. This gave him the ability to see and understand his home country in a much broader way and still choose it.
Today he lives in Agadir, his hometown, works for a French company and uses his perfect French daily, talking with customers over the phone.
With Yasse we shared four amazing days. Among them there were many talks that made us understand the Moroccan reality and the history behind it in a profound way and that changed the way we saw everything around us.
We also shared some spectacular meals. Yasse is an exceptional cook who left us speechless. In those days we were in the month of Ramadan, so a few hours before the iftar (which means “breakfast” and is eaten at sunset), the magic began and Yasse prepared exquisite meals with a dedication and admirable ease. In those four days at Yasse’s house we ate the best meals of the whole trip to Morocco.
The last day was perhaps the most special: as a thank you for his hospitality, we wanted to prepare him a typical Argentine meal. So it occurred to me to prepare my favorite food (which I had not eaten for five months, because it is not so easy to find it outside of Argentina): breaded chicken fillets – Milanesas! We bought chicken breasts, the breadcrumbs (which are an eccentricity in Morocco, so it is very expensive!) And I prepared 1 kilo of milanesas. And here comes the part that made it so special: the main objective of Couch-surfing is to promote cultural exchange, which that day, reached its maximum splendor: we contributed the Argentinian Milanesas, and Yasse was in charge of serving them in a local way, to which he also added his first class chef touch. That was how that night, we ate what I called “Moroccan Milanesas”, the three of us sitting around a huge tray that Yasse decorated as if it were a painting, with three different types of homemade mayonnaise, many types of cherry tomatoes and the inevitable olives. And how could it be otherwise, as the Moroccan custom indicates, we ate them by hand! And in that little gesture, our worlds, so distant and different, for a moment, merged into one… and I believe that those were the best milanesas of my life.
Thank you Yasse for your immense hospitality, not just giving us the memory of a nice place for the list, but giving us a great friendship.
Some other Agadir anecdotes
Agadir is the only place I know where it can be hotter at night than during the day. In Buenos Aires, where I have always lived or anywhere else I have visited, it is normal for it to be warmer during the day and cooler during the night. In Buenos Aires this is especially true in spring and summer, when it can be very hot during the day, but you always have to wear a coat for the evening. In Agadir, this was literally the other way around. Yasse explained to us that this happens through the different winds that join in Agadir, those that come from the Atlantic Ocean (cool) and those that come from the Sahara desert (warm). Throughout the day they are “fighting” to see who wins and takes the city. The result is that, in general, during the day the ocean wind wins, so it is cooler and during the night, the Saharan wind triumphs, so it is warmer.
A “souk” lesson
In Agadir we learned how to shop in the souk, because although we had done it several times before, doing it with Yasse changed everything. The souk of Agadir is one of the largest we saw and going shopping there is a whole plan in itself. On that visit with Yasse, among other things, we learned how to buy a whole fresh chicken (vegetarians, vegans or faint hearted can go to the next paragraph, because I will explain how this process is). In the souks of Morocco the chicken is bought fresh, in other words, alive. There are places where there are a lot of chickens freely walking on the floor, you tell the seller more or less which one you want, he weighs it for you and tells you the price (between 15 and 20 dirhams a kilo). If you agree with the transaction, the seller makes you one last gesture in the form of a question to confirm before… killing it, because then there is no going back. Yes, this feels terrible but if you eat meat this is what always happens, either in an industrial level with a lot of middlemen and plastics in between, or in a Moroccan souk where the order to kill comes from you and the butcher acts on it infront of your eyes. Some customers prefer to go for a walk and return about five minutes later, the time it takes to do the whole process so that the chicken is ready and you take it in a bag to your home. I leave a video of the stalls that sell fresh chicken in the souk of Agadir, to better illustrate what I am telling you:
Midnight Beach Picnic
To close our stay in Agadir, the night before we left, which was also one of the last nights of Ramadan, we came up with a night walk on the beach, near midnight. After living almost a whole month of Ramadan in Morocco, we knew that people change their schedules and live rather at night, and that night we saw this at its best. I have never seen a beach so crowded in the darkness of the night. The weather was ideal, neither too cold nor too hot and groups of families or friends had come to the beach with incredible elaborated picnics. They had giant tarps that worked as tables, grills and all kinds of food. And there was no lack of people swimming in the sea! It was a show, a surreal party.
For all this, the 19 days we spent between Tamraght, Imsouane and Agadir, our unplanned Moroccan beach trilogy, were not days in which we just visited “beautiful” places, but they were places, that for one thing or another, gave us very interesting experiences, that marked us and changed the whole way we continued our trip…
PostScript 1: If you want to help me to continue with this project, don’t forget to share!
If you have any questions, queries or suggestions, you can leave it in the comments below. And if you think someone can serve or interest this information, I thank you very much for sharing it!
PostScript 2: how do we continue?
If you want to read the next chapter of this adventure and what happened after Ouarzazate, you can click on the photo below to read the next post…