Morocco and Western Sahara
January 1, 1970
by Aga Bar
Today I will tell you about my adventures in Morocco, a country full of surprises. It was a really cold and damp February in Poland, and one day my friend came to me and said: “Morocco. In two days. Do you want to go?”. I didn’t have to think twice. The hardest part was was leaving my nice and warm bed; the rest was a piece of cake. I was only thinking: why there? Is there anything there except for sand, camels and tourists? What do they want to do there? But, I thought, everything is better than sitting at home and binge watching TV series.
So, we set out for our journey and I can tell you now – Morocco was full of surprises and I loved it to bits.
We began our trip in a charming Italian city of Bergamo. Well, no one told me before that Bergamo lies at the foot of mountains. I felt like a fool with my bag full of summer clothes. I had googled “Bergamo” before but there were only beautiful and sunny pictures of a peaceful old town. What awaited me there? A snow storm, dense fog and ten degrees below zero. On top of that I’ve caught a nasty cold. Bergamo might be picturesque, I said to myself, but all I will remember are frozen feet, snowdrifts and a bad mood. In other words, the beginning of my trip wasn’t glamorous.
Fortunately, it was all about to change.
The first step in Africa…
The next morning we were sitting in a plane to Morocco. The first thing I spotted from above were flowers. Beautiful, purple flowers, which looked just like our Polish crocuses. It felt really nice to see spring flowers after a long, Polish winter. The Warm, dry Moroccan sun was like a balm on my sore throat. I finally started to feel happy that I had decided to move from the couch.
After we dealt with the customs control, our first task was to find a taxi. The second we left the airport taxi drivers enveloped us tightly, everyone promising us the best deal, the prettiest car and the lowest price. We felt a little bit overwhelmed, mostly because we had to take a taxi and we weren’t able to outshout the crowd. We also had a lot of luggage; we were the group of 5 people and we carried kite-surfing equipment and we didn’t know how to deal with all this. That was our first time with the Moroccan lifestyle. When we finally chose a taxi driver, he seated us in a small car, fitted all our belongings into a half-opened trunk and took us to the hotel. It was truly a roller-coaster ride. In Marrakesh a typical 5-seater accommodates minimum 8 passengers; no one pays attention to traffic regulations (are there any?); all the time you can hear honking for no reason. People, animals and some weird things are showing up on the road, trying to pass by the cars. We must have looked quite shocked, because the taxi driver was laughing all the time. We started thinking about our next day – our task was to drive 1400 km on those crazy roads.
Marrakesh is definitely worth seeing, but for me 2 days were enough. It is a really loud, place, full of new aromas, colours and spices. There is music and laugh everywhere. Dogs and kids gad around and fast-foods with unidentified dishes tempt you with their tasty smell. It was something brand new for all of us. Magical Jemaa el Fnaa Square was full of surprises, crowded with monkeys, snake-charmers, belly-dancers, storytellers, musicians, you name it. It was all very interesting, but, in my opinion, spoiled by overzealous sellers.
Another surprise awaited us at the car rental service. Renting a car in Morocco is cheap but the security deposit they asked us to pay was 1800 euro!
OK, we have our car and it’s time to hit the road. After leaving Marrakesh everything changed. We were driving south, heading to the Western Sahara, having this great space around us and the giant Atlas Mountains on our left side. The landscape changed with every hour. We had about 1400 km to go but no one was bored. After a while, we entered the desert. Wow! We were really amazed; there was much more than sand there. It was truly breathtaking. Camels on the road and the all-encompassing vastness of scenery. I fell in love with the view. It was much better than I had anticipated. The next village was located 300 km ahead of us; there was literally nothing around.
Passports checks are situated at police stations, every 50 km. If you are travelling to Western Sahara, I would recommend making about 30-40 xerox copies of your passport before going – this way you will save a lot of time.
Western Sahara and Dahla
We came to Dakhla. Probably, if you are not a kite/windsurfing freak, the name “Dakhla” will not ring a bell. But for us it was a dream destination with perfect water sports conditions. The village itself was very interesting; it had its own, magical atmosphere. There were kids and dogs playing on the streets, odd noises and a lot of new aromas. We spent our evenings exploring those new streets, trying local food (for example camel’s kebab, what do you think about that?:) ) and admiring a slow, desert lifestyle.
There is also another place, definitely worth mentioning. Sidi Ifni – a beautiful, small village with white-blue painted houses, plenty of cats and enormous waves. We loved the local market, which was emptier than in other, bigger villages but full of surprises such as silver jewellery, traditional clothes and other peculiarities.
Some photos of the village and the beach:
And there’s also one of the greatest touristic attraction in Morocco. The famous Legzira Beach located near Sidi Ifni, a magical place with mysterious rock formations. It looks like from a fairytale. The sad fact is that the great rock arch you can see on the picture tumbled down about a month ago. I feel very lucky that I was able to see this miracle of nature in real life.
If you are planning to visit Morocco, remember to leave big cities sometimes and go to see the desert and meet local people. They are hospitable, good-natured, amusing and friendly. I would definitely recommend you all visiting this fascinating country.