Tuesday 16th January
We had a good night at Camping Auorir the shower was amazing the best yet. I managed to bag a washing machine so was able to wash all our stinking smokey clothes.
We left the campsite and headed into Agadir we’d seen a wine shop when we were there last so Keith wants to see if they have any Vodka or beer. There is a sandstorm in the area and the wind is wild there is all sorts of stuff flying around the road, I’ve put a patch over my eye to make sure I don’t get any dust in it. We find somewhere to park along the seafront, 2dhm the guardian says, but on our return he wants 4dhm, they are such chancers and we’re arguing over 18p lol. Anyway the wine shop does have beer and vodka and it’s not cheap but Keith gets a stash in anyway, it’s only money!
We then head to Marjane the supermarket to stock up on cheese, crisps, crisps and more crisps, Keith is now one happy camper. Whilst we’re putting everything away Keith takes his eye off the shopping trolley, next thing some mad German and his wife have our shopping trolley and are giving it large shouting at us pointing at the trolley and a van parked across the carpark and they’re doing lots of arm waving. We try to ascertain if anything’s been damaged but he’s on a roll and just won’t shut up, I ignore him take the trolley from him, put it in the trolley park, get in the van and close the door. He stands there still shouting and drawing in other people before walking off still shouting the only words we understood were “English, English” we can only guess what what he was saying though. We have no idea if any damage was caused or not so we drive off and leave him to it.
Next we head off to Trigano, yippee they have the batteries, yippee they are the correct size. We pay the 2060dhm (£230) and we’re on our way. We’ve decided to head back to Tafroute tonight so we’ll put the batteries in tomorrow and then head to the Painted Rocks for the night. For those that might be interested or need these services Trigano Camping Car Services Agadir, GMS 06 73 79 43 62 email email@example.com GPS N30 25.328 W9 34.598.
Our drive back to Tafroute was great, we were against the clock though a 3 hour drive meaning we’d get to the campsite at 6pm providing we don’t stop along the way, it gets dark by 6pm and we don’t want to be on these roads in the dark. On the way we manage to see the goats in the Argan trees, but I’m not quick enough with the camera and the photos are a bit blurry, but you can see them in the trees, we’ll try for better next time.
We make good time and arrive at the campsite just after 6pm, find a spot and settle down which will hopefully be our last night of romantic torchlight.
Wednesday 17th January
We’re up early, it’s been a very windy night and Eugene was rocking and rolling through the night, from the wind I know what you’ll be thinking Ali Benn lol. I hang out the washing on the Argan trees nearby that I’d washed yesterday and Keith sets about connecting the batteries. Half an hour later with a few changes to the system and we’re back on solar, it’s only taken a week, loads of hassle, sleepless nights, a nose bleed and a 6 hour road trip, if you want something done, do it yourself.
Mohamed turns up and tells us we can’t dump our batteries in the bin so he will take them to his garage to dump them, oh no you don’t the guy in the van wanted to buy them they are worth something in scrap, no Mohamed you’re not having them, we don’t really want to lug them around with us, but it’s principal now!
It doesn’t take long for the washing to dry it’s still really gusty so we decide to pack up and to head to the Painted Rocks. Sue comes over for a quick chat and we fill her in the last few days, her and Gary are heading to Agadir at the weekend to meet a friend, so we say our goodbyes and pass contact details, I really hope we keep in contact.
We arrive at the Painted Rocks once you leave the road it’s about 1km on dirt track, it’s a fairly good track, we can’t get as close to the rocks as we wanted because the track is to bumpy for Eugene at 7.5metres, but we can see them from where we are. First thing we do is put the roast dinner in the Cobb and go for a hike up the rocks. Its cloudy today, not what we really want when we’re trying to charge the batteries, but its peaceful and the only people around are a couple of ‘hippy’ vans further in the valley. It’s so quite its scary.
Unfortunately we have to spend the night with torchlight, it’s been too overcast for the solar panel to get any sun and we only drove for about 30 minutes from Tafroute not long enough to charge the batteries, but never mind, it makes the experience that more enjoyable. Once it gets dark we can see headlights heading in our direction, 5 ‘hippy’ vans go straight past down into the valley, they must be mad driving along here in the dark we watch as they snail their way down to the valley over the rough track.
We spend a peaceful night, could hear a pin drop, not even a dog barking lol.
Thursday 18th January
We set off down the track and stop to wash the windscreen out of nowhere 3 tiny puppies come running towards us and sit beside the van, they are skin and bone and most only be a few months old, mother nowhere to be seen. This trip is really playing with our emotions or we must be getting soft, seeing them sitting there I throw them 2 chicken legs that I’d saved from last night for our lunch, 2 of the puppies grab one each and run off with them, the 3rd looks around and then sits by the van waiting, so I end up giving him the chicken breast that I’d saved for tea, no dinner or tea for us then.
We head off leaving Tafroute for a 3 hour drive to Tata. We decide to take a route that was done by a fellow blogger Heidi Hymer (you can find her on facebook and webpage), in March last year. We took the 105 out of Tafraoute, then the 106 into the mountains then a right turn at the Village of Azgour to meet the 109 to Tata. The drive was spectacular once we were on the unnamed road from Azgour the scenery changed from barren mountains to amazing red rocks to waves and waves of green slate, multi coloured mountains and a few beautiful green oasis thrown in. We saw people who appeared to be in the middle of nowhere walking from-to who knows where. We passed Berber people camped on the steep mountain sides with their sheep and goats literally miles from anywhere, how these people survive beggars belief, it’s a hard life that’s for sure.
We were about 20 miles since the turning into the Village of Azgour when we thought we’d have to turn back. The road had been fairly good all the way, although single track luckily we hadn’t encountered any vehicles coming the other way or worse trying to overtake us. As we rounded the corner the road had completely disappeared, “what the f&@k”, hope you can hear Keith lol. The section of road is over the river pass which has been completely washed of the tarmac from the road, there were huge craters and rocks where the road surface had been. Initially we thought we’d have to turn back, but there wasn’t anywhere to turn around our 7.5 metres without causing damage, so a with a bit of bum squeezing, eye twitching and holding our breath we inched our way over, each turn of the wheel was excruciating as we waited for the sound of ‘grounding’ that we didn’t want to hear, but with Keith’s expert handling of Eugene we managed to get through with no scrapes, phew, breath, only to encounter the same situation about 3 miles further on. With the same gusto we manage to pass through and eventually we arrived in Tata. This drive was absolutely draw dropping, if you’re a risk taker do it.
I will add here that along the way we had a test call with BBC Radio Guernsey we’re booked in for 12.45pm on Monday 22nd for our minute of fame on the Jenny Kendall-Tobias show, so listen in peeps.
Our campsite is on the river Camping Hayat, it takes 25 vans and has good ratings. We find our spot on the top terrace and head into town. The town is very quiet only a few shops open and not many people around. We explore the back streets and find the market but it’s closing down for the afternoon. We find a cafe near the roundabout to sit and watch this small town move about but not a lot is going on. The women here are dressed in bright colours, compared to the women in Tafraoute dressed in traditional black clothing. Everyone is friendly and takes the time to say hello as they pass us. We pay for the coffee, it’s only 13dhm (£1) guy says he can only find 3dhm to give us as change, likely story but we don’t argue we were going to leave him a tip anyway.
We arrive back at the camp to find an impressive camper truck parked next to us, this thing is massive and it’s drawing lots of attention from the men on the campsite who are all drawling over it, Keith joins in. Keith gets on the internet to find its full spec and he is green with envy, this monster cost over £350,000 and it’s brand new, who has that sort of money to spend on a truck? It has a toilet holding tank of 100 litres (that’s a lot of shit) and 600 litres of fresh water and a crane on the back to lift off the spare wheel, if you’re going to explore Africa this is definitely the way to go, keep on dreaming Keithy boy.
We have a good nights sleep.
Friday 19th January
Fridays are the most religious days in Morocco and at 5am the first calling to prayer starts, then again at 6pm, we’re now fully awake.
After breakfast, I have a fantastic shower, Keith on the other hand comes back freezing, the light switch doesn’t work, he couldn’t see which was the hot or cold, he gets a cold shower and the water runs out before he’s done. We do a bit of hand washing and head into town. It’s busier than yesterday but an hour later the 12 o’clock call to prayer calls and the shops start closing and the people disappear. We continue our walk through the streets, everyone says “bonjour” to us as we walk around, no one is trying to get us into their shops, wants or is trying to sell us anything, it’s lovely. We end up walking through the ‘industrial’ part of town, men welding, fixing cars, making tables, cabinets, sewing machines are out sewing coats and mattresses it’s busy. The children here (Morocco) are lovely shouting “Bonjour Monsieur, Madam” as we walk down the street, “bonjour how are you” our English reply is not what they are expecting and makes them giggle, every time lol.
We head to the market, I want to buy some green beans and a bit of pumpkin, you can buy a whole pumpkin or a piece from a pumpkin that’s already been cut and sitting on the cart, I tend to chose my piece very carefully depending on how many flies are sat on it. The selection of fruit and vegetables seems to be limited to green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, a type of turnip, carrots and a gherkin type of thing, oranges, apples, pomegranate and bananas. A few stalls have avocados, mangos and cauliflower. I start filling my bowl with what I want and the young boy tells me I can’t buy anything his father is at the mosque, well that’s a first in Morocco being told we can’t buy anything. Further along I get what I need and we head back to camp.
Our thermometer is showing 34 degrees outside (it is placed directly in the sun) so of course we have to put the awning and chairs out have lunch and Keith settles down for a bit of a snooze.
It’s so hot we decide to go down to the river to see if we can photograph the birds that we’ve seen when we’ve been walking into town. Keith puts the big 150/600 lens on the camera and we head down to the waters edge. Since we arrived yesterday the river has got deeper, probably due to the rain clouds that we saw ahead of us yesterday. The water is crystal clear and we can see the bottom of the river the small fish and sadly the plastic bottles and other rubbish that has been dumped in the river and the river edge is littered with broken glass. We find a spot and sit and wait and wait but the birds are now nowhere to be seen. Keith and I are quite keen amateur bird watchers but we lack the patience to sit and wait, so after 10 minutes we move off. We walk both sides of the river no birds but it’s lovely and cool, if there wasn’t so much rubbish we might have been tempted to jump in.
Saturday 20th January
It’s my turn this morning to bag the cold dark shower with Keith finally enjoying a hot shower. We’re heading further east today towards Zagora. We’re taking the N12 its one long road over 142km which should take us just over 3 hours through stony desert and the road runs parallel with the Algerian border 20 miles to the south, so we better not take any wrong turns today.
We’ve read that there’s not a lot of traffic heading this way and it’s common for the locals to try and bag a lift from you, so we decide if we see someone hitching a lift we’ll consider giving them a lift. We’re about half way into the drive when we come across someone hitching a lift, so we stop. It’s not a local that wants a lift but Paulo (we think that was his name) a 20 year old Italian lad who’s hitched a lift from Rome to the south of Spain to catch the boat to Tanger Med and has hitched a lift through Morocco for the past 5 weeks and he wants a lift to Zagora. Paulo has been sleeping wherever he can, he’s on a very very tight budget, last night he was tired so slept at an Auberge (hotel) but other than that he sleeps rough if he can’t bag accommodation. To earn extra money he busks in the medina’s. He has no mobile phone and no internet, the only device he has is a kindle with some books so he can read. He wants to go out to the desert, light a fire, cook a meal and watch the stars. We stop to make lunch along the way on a stretch of stony desert in the middle of nowhere and Paulo is grateful to be offered a meal and bites our hand off when we offer him chocolate. We have to drive with the windows open, this lad smells like he hasn’t showered for weeks.
The drive is pretty uneventful the road is mostly good tarmac with the odd dip in the road. Most of the scenery is flat barren land with the Anti-Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. In parts there are Oasis which are growing near the dry riverbeds, the sand which has hardened has been worn away by the wind and rain making pretty spectacular shapes. As we near Zagora we see Berber villages, camels and goats alongside the road.
We drop Paulo off near the centre of town and wish him luck for the rest of his journey, he is one brave young man.
We find the campsite Camping Oasis Palmier about 3 miles outside of town. We were welcomed by the owner who bought us some mint tea and provided carpets to put outside the van and a wooden table and stools. The toilets and showers were spotless and the toilets have loo roll, yeah (it’s a bugger when you forget to take some with you). He gives us a photo album with photos about 10 years old to show us the trips he can organise to the desert. We decline his offer because we’ll be doing a trip further south from M’Hamid early next week.
We take a walk 10 minutes along the road, a small group of kids eager to say hello, one asks if we want to go to his house and his mother will cook us couscous, we decline that offer. One boy hands me a dog that’s he’s made from a palm leave, I say no but he insists, so I take it and carry on walking only to hear him a few minutes later asking for 1dhm, he won’t take it back and won’t go away, so I have to give in. Another boy harasses us to change some money for him, we must of told him 20 times no change.
Along the way we see the famous painting, how far is Tombouctou apparently it’s 52 days by camel so the famous sign claims.
We’ve decided not to have electricity at the campsite, we’ve driven long enough and with the sun shinning down on us all day the batteries are fully charged. Yippee we can manage without electric hookup.
Sunday 21st January
Of course it’s a beautiful sunny day so we decide to head off early on our bikes to explore the town and find the market, apparently it’s the biggest in the area. We cycle in to the newer part of the town, it looks like any other town in Europe nothing spectacular. We turn off a few streets and end up at the back of town, children appear from nowhere shouting “bonjour”, waving and generally happy to see us. We see a group of boys about 11 years old playing football on the waste ground, they shout “bonjour Monsieur dame” and wave, but one of them picks up a large stone and throws it at us, it hits me in the stomachs and it gladly hurt. Keith is furious he runs his bike around and cycles to where they are, the boy that threw the stone is already running off into the streets. Keith picks up some stones (he’s not going to throw them) and they scatter, so we get on our bikes and cycle after the boy whose run off but we don’t find him, we tell the other boys we are going to the police, get out the camera and start taking photos of them, shouting sorry they run off again. This is the first encounter of hostility that we have encountered in 5 weeks in Morocco and what makes this so sad is that it’s a child who does it. I now have a lovely bruise on my ribs.
We find the market just outside of town, it’s absolute mayhem. There is everything here including goat heads!!
Not happy to leave our bikes (we’ve had 4 offers to buy them in the last 30 minutes) we take them into the very crowded market place. No sooner had we got in there when we become targets for the adults and children alike. The adults want to give us the tour for a few dirhams, buy our bikes and Keith’s Australian hat, and the children just want dirhams from us. We either say no or ignore them but we end up like the pied piper and can’t shake them off so we decide to leave.
We head back to the new part of the town and find a cafe, it’s less full on here, but the children are lined up waiting for us to leave and when we do they want dirhams. It’s time to head to the sanctuary of the campsite.
Don’t forget there are more photos and updates on our facebook page and Instagram. We’ve also now managed to get an app that tracks our route, for some reason we are struggling with Google Maps. Keith has set up the app, although we’re not to sure if we are called Guernsey Donkeys on Tour, or Keith Toms, but you should be able to find us. The app is Polarsteps, you don’t need an account to follow and its free to download.
Thanks for sticking with us, listen in tomorrow on the radio.
a la perchoine
Shirena & Keith