Saturday, January 30, 2010

Road Trip Day 6: Mirleft to Sidi Ifni and Home

We woke up early and took off to Sidi Ifni, a slightly larger town some 30 minutes south of Mirleft. The town was great; chilled out like the rest of the places we have visited during our little trip, but still full of soul and history. The town wasn't released from Spain until 1969 so a lot of the architecture and culture, even language, contains remains of the Spanish era. It's a cozy place to stroll around, especially the old Spanish part of town that provides something different for the eye than the common Moroccan architecture.

The town ends on the rocks that dives into the sea, giving a fantastic view of the big blue to the north and south. We had a small breakfast/lunch and then moved on to check the local souq out, but it contained nothing of interest. After about two hours we headed back to Mirleft and packed our stuff. We then got in the grande taxi and headed back to Agadir - a two hour scenic ending of our great first trip around Morocco.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Road Trip Day 5: Legzira to Mirleft

The day started out beautifully. The clouds and rain was gone and the view from the terrace just outside our room showed reddish stone arches against the turquoise water and the bright blue sky. Legzira is definitely something special; mostly hidden from the tourists, all quiet, the colours and so chilled out that I almost felt high walking the beach while the sun was warming my face (and waves were wetting my shoes). The tide was coming up so I never got to get to the place where I wanted to take some photos, but I got a couple of ok ones for memories sake anyways.

It was time to move on, so we strapped on our bags and went uphill (phew..!) to the road where we hopefully would catch a ride of some sort. It didn’t take long until a nice man stopped and gave us a lift to Mirleft. Once there we were once again approached by a money hunting local who showed us a studio for about half the price of what we would have payed in one of the budget hotels.

Mirleft has an atmosphere that is hard to compare with anything else I’ve experienced in Morocco so far. It’s off season and the place hasn’t been discovered by gold hunters and hotel chains yet so I think that for the first time I felt that I was in a village that were truly ”local”. There are apparently some expats living here and there were definitely some very nice and expensive villas down towards the beach, but the centre of the village, the eateries and the bar we went to was all authentic. I could stay here longer and just enjoy the village, but Taghazout is calling and tomorrow we’ll head back home. Maybe we’ll go for a short trip to Sidi Ifni before taking the bus/taxi to Agadir. Depends when we wake up I suppose. I’ll try my very best to hear the alarm without turning it off in the morning. I promise.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Road Trip Day 4: Tafraout to Legzira

A grand taxi took me sadly out of Tafraout and onwards to Tiznit, where Rachid was planning to buy some jewelries for his shop in Taghazout. It was raining when we got there and the medina didn’t look that appealing anymore, especially since we had to carry around our bags and everything. Rachid had started to catch a cold and I was tired and just wanted to get to a warm nice place to spend the night. But we were both fooled into following a man who promised a whole sale jewelry store, who took us through narrow streets, doorways in alleys until we had no idea where we were. Finally we reached a very hidden silver store (Rachid had told the man over and over again that he was not interested in silver), which of course had gorgeous jewelries, but nothing of interest to us except for a pair of earrings that I once owned and lost. At least I got that much from the tiresome journey through the medina in the rain.

Well back at the grande taxi station we decided to head out to Legzira, a beach south of Mirleft and just north of Sidi Ifnit. The taxi stopped in the middle of nowhere and we had to walk down a very muddy road down to the beach to reach Legzira. All I wanted was a nice place for the night where we could warm up, get our moods up and take a walk down the beach where the magnificent rock formations are for some nice photos. So, Rachid met a friend who gave us a room for 120DH, which is an ok price. But when we got there it was not what I had expected. Ok, I’m by no means a person of high standards and can sleep on a mattress on a floor amongst cokroaches if necessary, but for one night – just one night – I wanted a cool place with a little more luxury than a battered bed. Legzira is not blessed (or cursed, depending on how you see it) with electricity yet so the generators are only on for about 3 hours from about 7PM. Great. Now I was in an even pissier mood; muddy and with a headache and still frozen into my marrow.

After some childish moaning and crying we switched place to Beach Club, which cost us quite a lot more but was definitely more welcoming and cozier. Darkness was falling so we went for dinner and back to the room where Rachid fell asleep. Maybe he has some fever coming, bless him. Now I’m just waiting for the generator to pump it’s final heartbeat for the night, crawl under a bunch of blankets and listen to the waves outside my window. When I wake up I expect the sky to be clear blue, Rachid to be well and a lot of pictures taken. The plan is to check out Legzira properly, head to Sidi Ifni and perhaps make a stop in Mirleft on our way back home. If we like one of the places, we’ll probably spend another night away and head home to Taghazout the day after.

Despite of some disappointments (like the cold) the trip has been fantastic so far, but I have to admit that I miss the climate of dear old Taghazout where your blood doesn’t freeze as soon as you get out of bed. Hopefully it will be warmer tomorrow and I’ll have more interesting stuff to write about then.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Road Trip Day 3: Ameln Valley

How is it even possible to describe a place like the Ameln Valley? The answer; you can’t. There is no word worthy enough to describe this overwhelmingly beautiful landscape, with it’s fertile valleys and the rough mountains shining in gold in the sunlight. One of the formations on top of a mountain resembles a lion, and the local legend says that it’s there to wattch over the women while their men are away for business. Another man said that the lion had another purpose, which he wasn’t sure exactily what it was. But he was sure that there was something about it and that there were no coincidence that tourists and other people were drawn to the magic of this place.

We walked the valley for some time, admiring the ancient villages on the mountainside which there was no road access to. Amongst palms and almondtrees we lingered and soaked up the atmosphere that surely as the earth is spinning, was curing my soul from any bad thoughts. How wonderful it was! Ameln Valley… I had read about it, seen pictures of it, heard about it, but there’s no way on earth that I would expect the beauty of this place. It was simply magnificent, so despite the bitter cold that were freezing my marrow and bones that night, I slept like a baby, just to wake up to the day when it was time to leave Tafraout.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Road Trip Day 2: Tafraout

The day was spent checking out the town, which Rachid explained to be an authentic Berber village despite of the touristic influences. A stroll in any direction was a blessing for the eye. Golden rock formation and respectfully rough mountains surrounded the whole village. We took a stroll through the small souq and did some shopping. I found a nice pair of traditional Ameln Valley shoes which I’m very happy for.

Not knowing exactily where we were heading, we ended up in the ”old town”, which was more like the ”ancient town” and a wonderful sight with it’s still standing mud walls with magically decorated old doorways and wrought iron windows. We were all alone in this labyrinth of old times, ghosts and stories that would never again be told. I loved every part of it.

That night we bunkered up with two extra thick blankets and a bunch of candles to heat up our room a bit. We weren’t very successfull, but time went past and then it was time for another day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Road Trip Day 1: From Agadir to Tafraout

So we decided to go for a belated Christmas holiday. With a grande taxi we went from Agadir to Tiznit, which wasn’t a very interesting drive with plain fields on either side with the shadows of the mountains to your far left. I recognized Tiznit by it’s great wall of the medina. At the time I was eager to get to Tafraout, but otherwise I wouldn’t have hesitated in lingering around the medina for a while before moving forwards. But it was getting late and the taxis were running more and more infrequently, so at last we cought a taxi that would take us to our destination; the village of Tafraout in the Ameln Valley. The landscape started to change from the wide dry plains, to lusher hilly areas and finally a sensation of confusion creeps on you as the landscape is a mix of green hills, tiny forrests, dark frightening mountains looming in the distance and more inviting and softer ones on the other side welcoming you. One minute everything is beige and dusty and the next you’re surrounded by fertility, as if it were the cradle of all life.

The road took us further into the impressive wall-liked hills that made me expect a clan of native Americans with feathers and bows suspicially and readily looking down on you. But of course there wasn’t. This is Morocco, and it’s 2010.

Then the serious ride started – and oh my god what a ride. The narrow and very windy road took us through curves and bends not made for a vehicle to drive. But there we were and darkness crept upon us. I was amazed to see the little lights from houses scattered along the mountain sides, far from just about anything. The further inland we got, the higher it got and the more magnifiscent the scenery became. Then my ears started to pop. To anyone planning to travel this road; prepare for a roller coaster drive without rails. Just as I thought that ”this is it, now I’m going to die”, the road straightened out a bit, like an answer to a prayer. The side effect: the driver speeds up and I was once again friends with Sir Death.

After about three hours we finally arrived in the safe haven of Tafraout, which was all that I expected except for the bitter cold that I wasn’t prepared for at all. We checked in to a ”hotel” (more like a battered hoste, but it was cheap and clean enough), went for dinner and got to bed pretty early. It was absolutely freezing in the room, but thanks to a long day we both fell asleep and woke up even colder in the morning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life in Taghazout

Once a small Berber fishing village turned into a hippie paradise during the 1960's when Jimi Hendrix, and others passed through. Today this is where you come to surf. Apparently one of the best surfing points in Northwestern Africa that still has a lingering feeling of flower power and a constant faint smell of weed. This is Taghazout, with its blue wooden fishing boats that leaves for the open sea early in the morning and comes back at night, where the waves crashes against the cliffs between the beaches. This is where you drink your mint tea and read a good book, meet up with a friend or two and watch the sun go down with a fizzle in the Atlantic.

Although there isn't much to do here unless you're either a surfer, smoker or both, it's hard not to like this place. It has an atmosphere that is uncomparable; everyone that comes here, no matter if it's an independent traveler, a family, a loving couple, an old fart or a peaceful traveler from the Rainbow Family; everybody loves it - and so do I. It's nice that it's close to the city, where I can get groceries that can't be found here, have a beer or just soak up the presence of a busy city.

I have to admit that I spend most part of the day indoors these days. It started with the rain which made me "forced" to study harder because there simply wasn't anything else to do. And then I got so used to it that I kinda forgot that I was in paradise and not stuck back home in Sweden where everything sucked. I have to change that, get out more, see more, do more. The trip me and Rachid were going to make during Christmas might happen one of these days instead. The rain season seems to be over for the most part and I would really enjoy the fresh air of the mountains for a couple of days. The study loan arrived today, but of course I have no access to it since my wallet got stolen, so no VISA. But perhaps dad can send them to me tomorrow and I'll be off in a day or two. Let's hope!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A New Baby Andersson!

Today a new Andersson was born! Linda had a beautiful baby boy and I so wish I could be there to give her a huge hug and hold the little one; smell that special baby scent and try not to think of my own faint desire of one day having a baby. Because let's face it, I am getting old. Next year I'll turn 30. Twenty years ago I could've sworn that I would be both married and have at least two kids by the age of 30. But no, life presents itself in strange ways sometimes. Thank goodness I don't have any regrets though. I've done what I needed and wanted to do, experienced life as I needed to experience it, I've learned and I've grown.

Anyways, congratulations to Linda and to Emil and Alex who got themselves a baby brother! I'm so looking forward to see them all in June when I'm back for the summer and for Anna's wedding in Oslo.

Oh, and happy birthday to my mini brother Anton too, who turned 4 yesterday!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Paradise Valley

When I woke up the sun was shining after a few days of raining, and I thought that today is one of those days when you just have to do something special. So me and Rachid took off to Aourir, Banana Village, where we cought a "transit" to a place called Paradise Valley. The road followed a narrow ad winding (but paved - thank God) road through lush, rounded hills.

The first village we came to was called Alma, a tiny place that mostly resembled a ghost town with its unfinished buildings, dark glassless windows and almost no people in sight. Small stalls with fruit, potteries and giant fossiles were scattered along the road. Outside the village the scene opened up to higher mountains and deeper valleys.

The second village, called something like Tamzergant, was another small one, but this one was surrounded by a jungle of tall palmtrees, nourished by the green/turquoise waters of the river that ran through it.

A little further outside the second village the road side was covered in dark mud, small stones and rocks that had fallen from the mountains during the heavy rainings this past couple of weeks. Apparently this happens every rain season which can't be too encouraging if you live around the place. I wouldn't want to be the one who got a rock in my head.

Our destination was marked with Sentier Pédistre, Taghrat - Valleé du Paradis some 50 minutes after we had left Aourir. We walked down a rough path until we reached the river - which we of course crossed with our shoes off and bare legs. I felt a bit like Indiana Jones. So, once across the river (which at that part wasn't deep at all really, I just wanted it to sound more exciting than it was) we walked upstream through a forest of palm trees and olive trees. Here and there we encountered a tiny farm with a tiny banana plantage.

We followed the nearly invisible paths until we saw the terrain open up on the other side of the river. This one would be more difficult, I decided, and took my shoes off once again. The current was stronger here, the water deeper and the bottom covered with slippery stones. But at that time I feelt invincible, like Tarzan's Jane, and I plunged into the river - carefully mind you - and found myself unhurt and pretty dry on the onther side.

Eventually, after having walked through the gorgeous forest with the mountains towering above us and a couple of more tiny streams to cross, we ended up in a clearing on the riverside rocks (which we had to climb down, but then again, Super-Maria can do anything, anything!). We rested there then, on the cliffs right by a pool where the river water was resting after its long journey from the mountains. The water was clear greenish/turquoise and there were a few other people enjoying this wonderful place. I was going to swim, but then the sun went behind the clouds for a few minutes and the water looked just freezing, so I decided against it - this time.Marginaljustera
Then the sun started to set behind the mountains and it was time to head back to the road. With a few arguments along the way we of course got lost in the hillsides and reached the road just as the last transport left the parking. Great - now we were in the middle of nowhere, it was getting dark and we had no idea how to get back to Aourir. We decided to start walking and hope to get a lift by someone that would drive by, but the traffic was close to non existent in this part of the country. Eventually a nice French dopehead and his dog spotted our desperate outstretched thumbs and picked us up. We got a lift to a small camping where he was going to meet up with his other nice French dopeheads. So there we were on the roadside with our thumbs sticking out again.

Next truck that stopped was driven by a nice local and his friend that took us all the way to Aourir where we could then get a taxi back to Taghazout. It was pitch black by then, my thighs were sore from the climbings, my feet, head and tooth hurt and I was in a mighty bad mood. But all in all, it was a wonderful day!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Today I was a Tourist

Another beautiful day and I had woken up early for once, so I "gently" woke up Rachid and told him that "toady we're going to the kasbah". A kasbah is a fortified granary, but this one was destroyed by the earthquake in 1960 so only the outer walls and some piles of stones was left. But the reason why people go to the kasbah is because it's situated on a hill overlooking the whole of Agadir, the Atlantic and the surrounding hills.

We strolled around the ruins, enjoying the view and clear air. It's sad what happened in 1960. Some 15-20,000 people were killed and all off Agadir was destroyed. The kasbah is one of the few remains from the disaster. Today Agadir is acompletely different city, clearly built to satisfy sun worshiping westerners. The buildings resembles more those from a south European holiday destination than the "mystic" oriental of Morocco. It's all white and clean, all so superficial, and it makes me sad. Still, it's a nice place to linger for a few hours and do some shopping.

When the sun started to become less warming we decided for our descent from the hill, which was made on a half paved path that criss-crossed down the hill. The shadows formed fantastic patterns on the hills and mountains around us and I wished I was a better photographer. I think I will study the art on my free time. Morocco is after all, a photographer's dream destination. It would be stupid to waste the oportunities presented to me when they come, just because I've been too lazy to learn my own camera.

I still haven't ridden a Moroccan camel yet. God knows I've had plenty opportunities. The poor camels are being led around the beaches and other touristy places to offer rides. They are wonderful creatures really. I mean, what other animal can you compare it with? They're stubborn as hell too, and quite uncomfortable until you get the hang of it. One day I think I'll have my own camel. How cool would that be!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

...And a Happy New Year in Agadir

Stupid me got my wallet stolen on the bus. I didn’t keep my bad tight enough and then suddenly it was gone. Great, VISA-card, driving licence, money, gone. Luckily we got to borrow some money from Muhammed until mum could send what was left on my account via Western Union. So now I'm waiting for my new VISA-card, although I'm not sure how I will recieve it since it seems nearly impossibleto get a P.O. Box around here. The "misfortune" put me down for a couple of days, but what can you do eh.

And then New Year was upon us. There was some kinda big party at a camping not too far from here, but neither of us was too thrilled to go, so instead we went with Mustafa and Elena to Agadir where we had a few beers and watched the fireworks from the beach. It was a nice enough evening.

I haven't made any New Year Resolution yet, and I don't think I will. I keep tending on breaking them anyways, so I will simply make the best out of 2010; pass my exams, travel some, get to my dear Anna's wedding in June, go to Sweden for the summer and hopefully get married (one way or another) to the best man in the world.

Mustafa, Rachid, Elena and me.