Morocco 2011 – Early morning call

We were still above 2000m where we camped and we woke up with ice on the tents for the first time, despite it not feeling as cold. Perhaps the lack of wind allowed the ice to form. However, we were all woken much earlier, at 4.37am, by the call to prayer which boomed from speakers mounted on the top of the minaret above the mosque. This was repeated with a reminder a few minutes later. I wonder how many people actually respond to the call?

Three minibuses came to collect us and while the kit was being secured on the roof racks a few of us chose to visit the nearby school. One or two of the NCW students had bits and pieces to give them and they also wanted to give some money to the school. I took the opportunity to hand over my bag of balloons, there not having been much opportunity to get them out previously. They won’t last long with so many prickly bushes around.
We said goodbye to the muleteers and piled into the minibuses for the 7 – 8 hour journey to meet our camel team. It appeared there was some confusion about the number of camels we were having. I was determined we would not miss out on riding them this time so I phoned the office to find it had already been resolved and we were to have eight camels for riding in addition to the eight that were to carry the kit.

The journey was very pleasant, very little traffic, on good roads. I thought we might have seen something of Tallodine, an ancient walled city, but we by-passed it and saw nothing.
Between Tallodine and Agadir we were stopped by the police and our driver was fined for speeding. The road was dead straight with a speed limit of 100km per hour. Temporary 60km per hour signs were put up at the side of the road, hardly visible, and he got caught. There was some discussion, which became animated at times. Unfortunately, the police had the upper hand and a uniform on their side. The trick is to fine drivers for speeding, which has a statutory 700 Dirhams fine. In the police records they put the offence down as not wearing a seatbelt which carries a 300 Dirhams fine. Therefore, 400 Dirhams ends up in the pockets of the police. Nice one.

We stopped near Agadir airport for a drink and again at a huge, French influenced, supermarket, where we casually shopped while Jamal and the remaining members of the team bought lunch.

We did not see a great deal of Agadir either but it is a modern city rebuilt after it was flattened by the 1960 earthquake. The coastline, which we followed for some miles north of Agadir, was beautiful and we stopped for lunch at a cliff top pull in a few miles up the coast. Further up the coast road we turned inland and through the Argon Forest. We later headed back towards the sea and our camping site just behind the beach. While the tents were being set up by the camel crew we took a stroll on to the beach and the students played at the water’s edge as the sun set out to sea. It was stunning.

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