Day 052: Another Moroccan Superhike
Trip Start Aug 15, 2011
89Trip End Ongoing
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Agadir, November 17, 2011
The bus north is an overnight bus, which I quite happy for. Quite frankly I do not want to spend another day sitting in a cramped collective taxi gazing out to endless emptiness. This puts me back in Agadir region, an area I've explored quite a bit… and I have a full day to kill before taking another overnight bus to Casablanca.
But this day will not be squandered… I have an "important" mission to fulfill: Finish a Souss Valley superhike.
Remember the Superhike Concept? It's an idea that was born back in the summer of 2009 when I created an uninterrupted trail of footprints for 8 days around greater Paris, visiting 47 towns. Then in 2010 I did a superhike of my city of residence, Casablanca, hiking for 10 days in the city it’self plus a couple of suburbs. Then last spring I did the same thing in Rabat (although that superhike will eventually merge with the Casablanca Superhike.
But over the last few months I’ve started thinking that this should be my normal way of discovering this world, rather than the exception. I did another Superhike in Egypt as well as in a neighboring country. I found it very fulfilling to reach that 100 km mark and knowing that I had made significant effort in exploring certain discovery-packed regions.
Now, I’m still not sure how doing superhikes is going to fit into the greater scheme of things, but I’m itching to do another one: and here is my opportunity. See, back in 2008 I hiked through Inezgane, Dcheira, Ben Sergao and Agadir. Later I hiked to from there to Ait Mellioul, and also explored nearby Tekiouine. Then, earlier this year, I did a big loop up the Souss Valley, starting in Temsia, then crossing the river and looping back to Drarga and Tekiouine on the other side.
This means, if I can just hike the short distance from Dcheira to Tekiouine, it will definitely hit the 100 km of uninterrupted footprints mark making it my 5th Superhike (my rules).
But that won’t take me the full day, so I take my time wandering from the bus station to the neighbourhood where I used to live, Khiam II. I pass the one room where I used to live, gazing in the window and reminiscing the wonderful and painful moments I spent in that room… I remember the dairy shop where I’d get my glass of fresh yoghurt… and the other where I’d enjoy eggs and tomato omelette—I order another one just for old times sake. I look up one of my old friends—but it seems he’s disappeared… it seems all my friends from this area have either moved or died.
I walk past the slum that everyone said I shouldn’t walk through because it’s too dangerous (I did anyways). Now it’s been torn down and 3 storey homes have been built instead.
And then… I reach the garden. Nothing special about it, just a couple benches and trimmed bushes, but this place means a lot to me. It was here, back in the spring of 2000 that I made my second attempt at "Parkbenching"—simply going to a public place and playing music. In fact, I even tried to busk here for the first time (unsuccessfully). This desire to play music around the world took me on a journey through France, Germany—where I ran out of money—and I continued on foot to the Polish border. Although I failed as a travelling musician, this experience did prove to be one of the most important in my life—and set the stage for the Travelling Minstrel life I live now—a bit more organized and pragmatic, but still with that same crazy drive to play music all around the world.
I continue on south through the same area I hiked through back in 1996. Back then, there were just empty streets and electric lines—not a single house. And I thought “Somebody’s got way too much faith… there’s no way this area is all going to fill up with houses!” Well, now there’s hardly an empty lot in sight, and on the other side of the highway, new neighborhoods are popping up out of nowhere. Granted, a lot of these houses are empty vacation homes bought by Moroccans living abroad, but there are quite a few that are inhabited as well.
I wander on and on. It’s a strange feeling, since I lived in Agadir for 3 years and knew the city by heart, but now there’s hardly anything—other than the university that looks familiar… And finally I reach Tekiouine, officially turning the Souss region into my 5th Superhike. I’ll admit, quite a bit less interesting than Greater Paris, Greater Cairo or even Casablanca, but quite significant, since this is a region where I spent some of the most important years of my life.
I grab a collective taxi back to Agadir, where I’ve still got some time to kill. I head to the main market where I knew a couple of people. There’s Mussa, the tailor, who looks older and with fewer teeth but we have a friendly chat together. He shows me a picture of his daughter asking if I know of a good “Muslim foreigner” who might like to marry her…
Then there’s a guy I really want to see: Mohammed, the Saharawi from Boujdour who runs a herb shop scam. Fake guides bring in unwary tourists and he sells them fake herbal remedies (he offered me a job back in the day, offering me 50% of the profits from each tourist we scammed, but I politely turned him down). This time I figure he’ll be really impressed to see photos proving that I was in his hometown, Boujdour.
“I brought him to you! I want a commission!” a nearby hustler shouts, starting a fight. I watch in amusement, remembering the good ol’ days when I was still green, living all alone here in Agadir.
From the market, I stop by to see another old contact, a successful Berber businessman who I used to tutor in English. He still looks the same—but much more conservative these days, talking about his trip to do the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, rather than his vacations in Paris and Bangkok… Then I continue on to what once was the northeast edge of town.. now there are a scattering of upscale villas and apartment complexes up the hillside…
And with that, I decide to call it a day.