Trip Start Sep 13, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Sunday, October 15, 2006

Three hours in a hot and sticky bus got me down the coast to Agadir which is really a very large collection of big international hotels with the original French settlement sitting in behind. The port receives the largest amount of sardines in the world, which then gets canned and sent off to Europe. Still for your average tourist here, they don't see all this and instead they normally buy a package deal in Europe which includes absolutely everything from flights accommodation food and entertainment. In a lot of respects you may as well be at a club med on the French Riviera.

Still during 15 seconds in 1960 an earthquake shook the original town which was located on the hill and because of ancient construction methods it all turned to rubble kill 15000 people. From that moment the French were very active rebuilding the city even though morocco was no longer a French territory. Most of the ruins are still there.

However along with tourist comes the necessary to keep them happy, specifically beer! And I took the opportunity to do a bit of people watching over a few cold ones.

I found myself in a decent cheap hotel away from the hoards and spent most of my time in Agadir talking to people in cheap cafes, travelers like myself who where often just passing through. As a result, managed to get to know all the waiters and the owner of a couple of cafes and found out about their working conditions. Having met and spent quite a bit of time specifically with George, a French communist, I found conversations were often interestingly directed towards the masses and the problems they faced.

One experience I would recommend is going to a Hamma, because the shower at my hotel was broken and it didn't look like it was going to get fixed in the up and coming months I got directed to the local Hamma which is a sort of Arabic bath house.

I entered and after negotiating the price stripped down to shorts, then entered through a doorway into a warm room where the owner filled up a couple of buckets with very hot water. And told me to keep walking with the buckets, all along I was followed by this enormous black guy. I arrived in the next room which was a bit hotter and then finally in the last room which resembled an enormous sauna. There were already a couple of other men there, either washing or just laying flat out on the floor.

Started to wash when the big black guy gave me some liquid soap. I thought this was pretty nice of him so thanked him. But he went off and came back with an enormous pot scrub and told me to lie on the floor face down. I was starting to feel like this was getting a bit strange. Still he preceded to sand paper my arms, legs and back until they turned all pink and later my sides and head. He must have been at it for 15 minutes, every so often throwing a bucket of boiling hot water over me. Then he even washed my hair. I started to realise he was probably an employee here, either that or Moroccans here did this to one another. By the time he had finished with me I felt like a brand new spring chicken and light as a feather.

The rest of the time at Agadir was taken up trying to get enough euros so I could comfortably get to Mauritania. At first I tried many a bank but they all refused to convert dirham to euros. I then tried the black market and ended up with a few notes but about 80 euros in coins. Afterwards I stopped tourists that looked like they were from Europe and asked them if they need dirhams for euros. This worked a little bit but most of the time I found myself talking to English who only had pounds.

Still the experience was interesting because all of a sudden it was I who was soliciting the tourist rather then being solicited and I started to analyse the approaching tourists to decided if it was worth while to stop them or not. Still this didn't work all that well as most had already converted their money. Finally the best solution was a nice guy in a hotel who said return tomorrow morning when a new bus load of tourist would turn up and I could intercept the euro to dirhams conversion before the hotel resisted the money in their books.

All this conversion took me a couple of days and I realised soliciting tourists was a lot more tiring then I had thought. Still I was feeling pretty happy with myself and sent off a mail to a Peruvian with whom I was going to do the Mauritanian border crossing to see if he was ready. My only problem is that having met a guy who worked in the French consulate, he suggested that I pass by for a chat, so the next morning I did and they recommend that I get a visa from Casablanca. I thought they must know what they are talking about and had to face up to the idea of spending another 8 hours going back to Casa. This was preferable then returning from border which would cost heaps and be a waste of 30 hours of travel by bus

So resigned to the idea, I said good bye to George and the waiters and hopped on a night bus to Casa, where I spent a day getting my visa and left the next day on 24 hour bus trip to Dakhla which is the southern most town in the disputed territory of Morocco.
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