Agadir – last days in Morocco

Yesterday was the hottest ever, no sea mist at all in the morning, so hot it was hard to be outside or do anything. It was windy, but this bought no respite as the wind was blowing from the Sahara so it was hot and sand laden. I did manage to walk up to Hollie’s office, originally I’d thought about taking a taxi but, for the first time in history, there were no taxi men outside trying to get my business. The walk is probably only about a mile but it took ages because I was dodging from palm to palm trying to get every bit of shade I could. I understand now why many Moroccan women wear head scarves, I think I’ll get one before I come out here next. I also drank half a litre of water on each leg of the journey. What a relief it was to reach an air conditioned office! We had a coffee and a nice chat, quite a lot of it about the state of things back in the UK these days.

When I got back to the hotel it was more or less midday. Even Commando was sitting under a parasol between cooling dips in the pool. After about five minutes I had to take shelter in our room, looking longingly down at the cool water below but knowing the twenty steps from door to pool would probably kill me. To stay cool I lay prostrate on the marble floor, moving to a new spot every so often as the marble took on the heat from my body. I really don’t know how the poor Moroccans cope especially with Ramadan and the no water during the day rule. I can understand the no food bit though. Eating was a chore. We struggled through a very light lunch, leaving half of it, and only eating at all because we knew we had to eat something. On the other hand we were drinking water like it was going out of fashion. We had to go to the shop twice to stock up on as many big bottles as we could carry. Life would be so much easier if you could just drink it out of the tap.

I did manage to get outside again at about three but spent a good deal of time sitting in the pool then drying out under the parasol. There was no way I was exposing my fair skin to the sun’s rays, even with factor twenty. By five o’clock we both gave up and went up to the room for a cool shower. Just before sundown we ventured out, intending to walk down to The Marina to Le Quay. We’d expected it to be cooler by then. We were wrong. We made it down to the water shop and stopped for a while to get some shade but, truthfully, it wasn’t any cooler in the shade because the breeze was still hot, like being blown by a fan heater with added sand blasting facility. In the end we abandoned the whole idea and slowly walked back to the hotel, sitting on the plage wall every so often to take on more water. We’d got through over a litre between us before we got back to the hotel.

We ate in the hotel restaurant but all I could manage was a small salad and half a chicken shish kebab. The Commando managed more but, by his standards it was a frugal meal. Even the deserts held no real interest. I did try a chocolate mousse but couldn’t eat it. I’m thinking I may have to move to Morocco, I’d be tiny if I lived out here. After our non meal, we thought we’d walk down to Camel for a quick drink. It was dark by this time and we both expected to go outside to cooler night air and a refreshing little stroll. We were wrong. We walked out of the air conditioned hotel and it was like walking into an oven. Even at that time of the night, hours after the sun had gone down, the wind was as hot as ever. In the end we just ducked back into the air conditioned hotel bar and had a coffee before going back to our room, shutting the balcony doors and putting the air con on full blast.

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Our last day dawned with no sea mist and, even at six am, it was very warm. I had done the majority of my packing during my time in the room the day before so we had quite a bit of the day to ourselves. I made the most of my last breakfast, even though the heat made it hard to eat. Although I had omelette and some mini croissants, by far the best part was the large helping of ice cold watermelon. Guess who’s going to be in Sainsburys tomorrow stocking up on melons? Then again, without the heat they may not be as appealing. We said fond goodbyes to our waiters who seemed sad to see us go. The head waiter, who made a point of serving us personally most days, actually came outside as we left to shake our hands and wish us a safe journey. There were lots of cries of “l’annee prochaine, Insha Allāh,” and we felt like friends leaving after a visit rather than hotel guests. I’m sure we will go back.

After a shower and packing the last bits, we went for a walk down to the little shop I passed on my morning walk each day and spent our last few dirhams on water (you can never have enough of the stuff out here) and a few little gifts. We then went for a last drink at Camel to say goodbye to all the lovely staff. After that we spent the rest of the morning on our loungers (me mainly under the parasol) enjoying our last bit of sun and chatting to the lovely Scottish couple who have had the beds next to us for the last few days. They both live and work in Amsterdam, which is a place we have visited on more then one occasion so we had a little in common. They recently got engaged after being together for eighteen years, but there are no imminent plans for a wedding. For me, part of the fun of travel is the people we meet, both other travellers and the locals. We always take the time to chat to people and find out a little about them and their lives. I’m sure it gives us a better understanding of the different countries we visit and their cultures.

When our friends were taking a dip I looked out at the promenade indulging in one of my favourite pastimes, people watching. There were the usual street sellers trying to persuade passers by to part with a few Dirhams for tacky souvenirs or henna tattoos. The old Moroccan women sitting on the ground in what little bits of shade they could find, chatting in groups or, alone, begging for a few coins. Young men strutting about flexing their muscles at each other, they seem to be in a kind of unspoken competition, each trying to prove himself king of the beach. There are frequent demonstrations of strength on the different exercise installations that line the promenade. Outside Royal Atlas there is a kind of walk/ski piece, a strange one that looks like two big sets of weights but the object seems to be to spin the weights around in different directions and another leg exercising one where you move your legs apart and then back together, like doing the splits in mid air. The Moroccans appear to use them far more than the tourists.

This afternoon I watched as a young Moroccan, crippled with a twisted spine and strangely bent and malformed legs scooted up to the walk/ski exerciser in his battered wheelchair. He looked at it for a while then, to my amazement, slowly worked himself out of his wheelchair, holding himself upright by the sturdy bars of the equipment. He hung in the air for some time, trying desperately to get one of his poor crooked legs onto one of the foot holds. Eventually, after about ten minutes, he managed it then set about the task of getting the other foot into the other side. It seemed to take forever, with lots of false starts but he finally made it. I was exhausted just watching him and wondered what he was going to do next. He tried a few experimental legs swings before one leg detached itself from the foot hold and he had to start all over again. The man had the patience of a saint and managed to get the errant foot back in place then started “walking” his legs. He kept at it for about five minutes or so before he dropped to the ground, all his energy spent. After a little rest though, he started the process all over again. I think the image of his struggle will stay with me for a long time. For all those times when things seem too hard and the word ‘can’t’ springs to mind that man should be my inspiration. If he can do something that, on the face of it, appeared to be impossible, then I can have no excuse.

Our taxi turned up at four fifteen and we said our final farewells to everyone. Driving through Agadir I was struck by how dry everything was. The palms were sun bleached, the grass, what little there was, was sucked dry and everything was dusty, the colours muted and washed out. No wonder our friend described his impression of England as bright colours, compared to Morocco, especially in the summer, it really is. The colours here come from the bright fabrics, the vividly died leathers and the dark polished wood. The buildings are mostly white pained, the trees a faded khaki rather than the bright greens of home. The bright blue sky and the aquamarine sea provide the colour here.

Right now I’m sitting at a table at Agadir airport, having spent my last Dirhams on two big bottles of water for the wait and the flight. The airport is air conditioned but it still feels hot. We’ve just learned that out flight has been delayed by forty five minutes, which is not good news. We’re not due to land until after midnight and we have a two hour drive home after that, now we have to factor in another forty five minutes. Oh well, c’est la vie. See you in England.