December 04, 2011 GMT
Play it again Sam and funny food

Week 5 - Mohammedia in Morocco to Sidi Ifni in Morocco

Left Mohammedia heading for a campsite in Da Bouazza which was south of, but closer to, Casablanca. The downside of this was that we had to ride through Casablanca. Although Rabat is the capital of Morocco, Casablanca is a much larger city. You can tell this by the thickness of smog you are inhaling from about 2 miles outside of town. They don’t go in much for catalytic converters around here!

Traffic was mayhem, but Ant has developed a taste for it now and follows the Moroccan example of racing into gaps that clearly aren’t there. Found the campsite pretty easy so waited for Mom and Dad to catch up and had a chilled out evening of drinking and chatting.

The next day we decided to catch the bus into Casablanca. We walked up to the main road and waited for 45 mins, but no sign of a bus so flagged down a taxi. Can you guess how many people you can fit in a Mercedes 400? Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed 7 including the driver. There were already 2 people in the front seat so the four of us squashed in the back.

We found a local market and Ant made a new purchase of a Tagine cooker, which will double as a BBQ and fire container, we walked around the ancient medina and found Rick’s Café from the film Casablanca. Well actually it’s a replica built in 2004. The real one was in Rabat, but I guess that doesn’t sound as romantic for a film title. We stopped for a coffee and a photo opportunity.

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Then we walked across town to the Mosque of Hassan the 2nd, which was really impressive. It’s huge with really ornate mosaics and tiles. If you look at it from the other side it looks like it’s floating in the sea. The pictures really don’t do it justice.

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Then came time to get back to the campsite. We needed to do some shopping so we got a couple of petit taxis (There are two types here. Grand Taxis go from town to town and Petit Taxis take you around within the town boundaries.) and asked for Carrefour, which was the supermarket we had seen on the way into town. The taxis didn’t take us to Carrefour, but to another supermarket. We got out to see what was going on and the taxi driver said he could wait for us while we did the shopping then take us to the campsite. That seemed reasonable, but should have rung alarm bells as our campsite was 20k away and petit taxis can’t go outside the town! Did a lightning fast shop and got back in the taxis for a hair raising ride across Casablanca at rush hour. It turns out that there was also a place called International Camping Oasis in Casablanca and that is where the taxi drivers thought we wanted to go. After much grumbling and renegotiation we got back to the taxi rank and got a grand taxi who knew the right campsite. Adventure or major stress? I’m still undecided on that one!

Left Da Bouazza heading for Oualidia. The map said the road was scenic and they weren’t kidding. Miles and miles of stunning coastline with big Atlantic waves crashing onto rocks and deserted beaches.

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Only occasionally spoiled by whacking great petro chemical factories. Went through Azemmour and El-Jadida, just outside a chap avoiding getting his car wet in a puddle nearly killed us so we thought we’d stop for a spot of lunch.

Found Oualidia, but no campsite just parking for campervans by the side of the road. The security / campsite / wide boy / fixer said we could pitch our tent there if Mom and Dad were also coming in a campervan, but only after having tried to buy me from Ant for 50 camels! So glad he let us stay there as we were right on the beach of the natural lagoon Oualidia is built around. It was really beautiful.

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We had no provisions so decided to go to a restaurant in town. We all had the set menu and I have never seen so much fish in my life! Starters turned out to be a big plate of sea urchins. Ant had to ask the waiter what to do with them as we didn’t have a clue. It turns out you use a spoon and scoop out the tiny orange bits from the middle. It’s like eating very small, very salty roe. Unfortunately half way through the plate Ant noticed some of them we’re still moving which kind of put me off. After that we still had fried fish and grilled fish and crab and lobster and clams to get through. We all staggered off to bed so full of fish we could have burst.

Next morning we set off for Essaouira and about 10 mins up the road came across Cyprien the cyclist we had been leap frogging for a couple of days. We stopped for a chat and he is on his way from Belgium to Senegal. If you would like to keep up with his adventures in his flat cap his blog is here http://lesaventuresdes.blogspot.com. He had been in a hotel in Oualidia the night before, where he had met Danielle a Spanish chap who has just started a cycle trip around the world. While we were chatting another BMW pulled up, ridden by an Argentinian who had been off playing in the desert for a few weeks. He gave us loads of tips about where the good riding is in Morocco. He was a really interesting chap and he splits his time between Argentina and Miami for work so he spoke excellent English. Unfortunately I failed to make a note of his name and it has since dropped out of my head! I gave him our blog address though so hopefully he might be in touch down the road.

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The next few days were sunny and uneventful we carried on down the scenic coast stopping in Essaouira, Taghazoute and eventually ending the week in Sidi Ifni. The landscape has changed considerably this week from green farmland to hilly, where we got our first glimpses of the Atlas Mountains, to more barren and desert like.

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We finished the week in camping Sidi Ifni which is right on the beach. My cold is back with a vengeance and we have met Jean Francois or Jeff, who is a French Canadian travelling around Morocco by bus. As I was sniffling in bed, Ant and Jeff went into the market and bought us some camel meat for tea.

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Ant also found a restaurant where they had beer and managed to buy 4 cans wrapped in newspaper under the counter. We BBQ’d the camel and Jeff made a fantastic tomato risotto to go with it. It was lovely. Camel tastes like a cross between Pork and Turkey and is fantastic BBQ’d.

Posted by Nikki Robinson at December 04, 2011 11:13 PM GMT
 

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