El Jadida

Trip Start Mar 11, 2007
Trip End Apr 13, 2007

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Where I stayed
Holiday Inn

Flag of Morocco  ,
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ahhhh.  El Jadida was the saving grace of the trip.  Since we couldn't do the ever-popular camel trek, a few days on a beach was in order.  We follow the travel gods and their signs, and they clearly were telling us to get the hell out of Ouerzazate, or we would surely die. 

We found a somewhat decent hotel when we arrived. That was after a few Km hike with our packs in the midday sun.  We noticed a few taxis driving around but it didn't quite sink in to us that the strike was over because occasionally over the last week we'd seen a few drive by.  In Dakka, Bangladesh 10 years earlier I was in a similar situation.  Rich businessman hired ambulances to drive them around town. They'd lay down, throw a white sheet over themselves, and then pop out at their destination with suit and tie, ready for work.  But over there, people were being killed while driving around during the strike.  Someone lobbed a grenade in a bus that was driving around, killing several.  Here, there was (mostly) full solidarity.

Anyway, we got a cabbie to stop for us and it was a good thing.  I was pretty tired and we had a long ways to go to the hotel. Of course the hotel bathroom had a problem. The sink leaked which gave Mike something to do. 

We immediately liked El Jadida. Not many other tourists, a real, sandy beach, nicer people, a real good vibe.  You just feel it.  And the Portuguese City was very cool. You could walk around the whole thing on the ramparts and get good views of the city.  Some of the highlights were eating fried seafood at a local place holding about 4 restaurants inside. Touts yelled and hollered at you to eat at their stall.  It was all the same stuff!  We feasted on the "melange" or mixed seafood.  And splurged on freshly grilled sardines for about a buck for 5.

We got a few stares and I videotaped a bit of that restaurant scene.  Great atmosphere.  The day before we went to a nicer seafood place that had a religious theme.  Koranic verses played in the background and the walls were decorated with more verses spelled out in ornate fonts on plaques lining the wall.

But my favorite dining spot was the snail salesman.  Fresh escargot! Each night this guy set up a cart on the streets and for a mere 50 cents US, you got a huge bowl of snails and another bowl of broth.  Delicious.  I went 3 times while there.  And when I tried to tip him, he thought I made a mistake and tried to give it back.  That's a first.

We opted for a better hotel and I convinced Mike to check out the Ibis, a french chain like the Holiday Inn. They each have a pool and are reasonably priced. For just a few dollars more, we were soon hanging out by a pool, just off the beach.  Of course there was a bathroom problem though.  The water temparature woudl go from scalding hot to freezing cold 5 times or so during a shower.  Mike swears it never happened to him.  Must be the travel gods laughing it up again.

Unfortunately, Mike got sick 2 days before we left.  Note: don't try Moroccan pizza.  So while he chilled out for an extra day, I hung out on the beach one more day, dodging stares for walking around with shorts and no shirt. Imagine that a guy without a shirt on a beach is out of the ordinary.  I can't imagine what would happen if a woman wore a swimsuit here.

While a small area of the beach was clean near the city, farther out, it soon became apparent that they don't bother picking anything up.  There was a veritable trash heap down the beach, including a syringe.  But it was still a nice town with a good vibe.

The last day, Mike and I set out on a train, said our goodbyes outside of Casablanca, and went our separate ways. He was flying back to Zurich and I was gonna bust ass to get up to Lisbon in 2 days for my flight home. After 2 taxis, a long train, a short train, a ferry, a ride from a stranger, and a couple of buses later, I finally made it.  Two flights and a bus later, and there was Deanne waiting for me at the UW Memorial Union in Madison. She guessed right on my arrival time.  Safe at home.

So it wasn't really my favorite country to visit. And I can hardly recommend coming here if you have other options. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be as far as touts, thieves, and hassles, but it still was kind of boring after awhile. Turkey is a much more exciting place to visit.  Speaking French would have made it much easier to make friends and make life easier, so that's my fault.  And they sure seem to take glee at butting in lines here. They couldn't stand in an orderly line if their life depended on it.  And several times, staff in train stations and airports just happened to close the window right when I was next.  It's pretty obvious I'm American and not French.  But hey, that's what adventure travel is all about, isn't it?  You gotta take the good with the bad.
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mikeinzurich on

more Morocco pix for the curious
Hi Everybody, Mike the Plumber here.
More pix can seen at my Picasa link at

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