Horse taxis and curfew.

Horse taxis and curfew.

This morning I went surfing again and I had fun because the waves were pretty tame and I was able to go out with the group, yet try and surf them by myself. I enjoy it more when I can catch a wave without being told which wave, when to stand and with a push. After about 2 hours we took our wet suits off and relaxed on the beach. Lunch was couscous and some instant coffee that I bought from a man selling it. The group was planning on staying longer, but I wanted to get back and figure out our transportation to Marrakech tomorrow. We had flights booked, but everyone said that it was way smarter to take a car or bus.

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I decided I’d walk back along the beach, since it would only be about 30 minutes. Along the way I was offered a “taxi” on a horse with this boy who was about 19. I said no but eventually he convinced me. The horse didn’t really want to go straight so it wasn’t any faster than walking, but it was fun to try and talk french to the owner (who asked my age and then asked me to take off my sunglasses because he didn’t believe me). I then got scared once the horse started to gallop! Galloping in general is a little scary, but doing it while sharing a saddle is worse! I managed to stay on, so I do admit it was fun. Once we reached the end, my “taxi driver” asked to take a selfie. He then proceeded to do cheek kisses and even had the courage to go in for a regular kiss which I promptly pulled away from and told him no way!

I walked a short distance back and struck up a conversation with a guy who had just finished surfing. He worked at a hotel next to mine and said we should go there for dinner tonight. He said they have wine on the rooftop, so it was pretty much a done deal. I stopped to pet the cat which I’ve named nos-nos and then went to get ready for dinner.

We probably arrived at this place, called Manga Guesthouse, at about 8:45pm. It was a little confusing to get into because I think it’s meant for hotel guests only. However, it was such a cool hotel that I’m glad we went. If I were to go to Taghazout again, I’d probably stay there. The rooftop was fantastic and the food was probably the best I’ve had. We finished around 11:30pm and walked the short distance back to our place to find all of the gates have been pulled shut. We started to yell a little bit and managed to wake someone up. Apparently you have to let them know if you’re staying out past 10pm, but I guess we didn’t get the memo.

Paradise in Morocco.

Paradise in Morocco.

Kristi and I both were interested in visiting this place called Paradise valley that was about 45 minutes away from Taghazout. We took a cab out there along with one of the hotels staff members (as a sort of guide which they insisted on). We pulled over and stopped at what we assumed was the entrance, but to our amusement they had brought us to a garden which also doubled as a store. It reminded me of Bali and how the tours always stopped at a coffee plantation (just to look of course) where you always felt obligated to buy at the end. The good news was, is that I was truly interested in learning about all the different plants and how they use them. They also then showed us how Argan Oil is made. After sampling some oil, honey and beauty products we both did end up buying something, but we needed the product anyhow…and it was really nice!

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We drove a little further and then finally came through the valley. Our guide had us follow him through some paths, over some rocks, up some hills and then eventually into a clearing that was a swimming hole. It was gorgeous! There was some trash around because the locals often hang out there on weekends, but it wasn’t too bad. After managing to change under a blanket into our suits, we dove (or rather slid) into the water from the moss covered rocks. It was cold water but we adjusted quickly. It was fun to swim around and our guide (Tusik?) helped hoist us onto the cliffs where we could jump or slide off. I’ve certainly learned that I’m not as afraid of heights as I used to be after New Zealand canyoning, but I didn’t do the highest jump. After the place got a bit busier, we headed to the second lake.

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The second lake we were told was 10 minutes away, but it was definitely further. We didn’t have the clearest communication, but Tusik was the nicest person ever and was kind of silly. What I loved was that despite a language barrier, he knew how to play the water bottle flip game (that’s the internet for you…). It was the perfect amount of difficulty in a hike. We climbed super high up and then eventually worked our way down into the valley which at one point was filled with water. He took us to a waterfall that was dried up, it was cool to see. Then we walked back to the second lake, but were a little too tired to swim here.

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On the way back we stopped at a river cafe. That was probably the highlight of my day because I’ve never done anything like it. The table and chairs were actually in the middle of the river/stream. If any of our tea or cookies spilled it was easily swept away by the water current or eaten by the fish. If the crumbs fell too close to your feet, you also got a little fish pedicure. The car ride back was nice because we were tired and the driver had the best mix tape with classic 00’s songs!

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Within a few hours of getting back, Kristi had now come down with the stomach plague so while she tried to recover I went and did a workout on the beach. It felt so good to do a hard workout, and the coach was great because she made it very fun and competitive. Sometimes I forgot I was working out and just thought I was playing a game. I came back and Kristi was still feeling sick so we just caught up on some rest tonight.

Birthday Surprise!

Birthday Surprise!

Today I got a birthday surprise! Stomach flu! Apparently everyone gets it within 3 days of being here, so it really is no surprise. I was bummed that it had to be on my birthday though. I should have just slept in but I really wanted to surf so I went out with the group. However, I quickly realized that I did not have the energy or stomach to surf. I got out of the water and napped in the van because it was nice and warm in there. Eventually, I started to feel even worse and just wanted to lie in my bed. They took me back and I rested for a few hours.

By 3pm I started to feel a bit better, enough to join a few others at a local weekly farmers market. We walked around and saw them selling different fruits, vegetables, rugs, Nikes, etc. After the market, we walked down the street in town and I decided I wasn’t having meat that night for dinner! I saw way too many animal body parts for my liking.. I give people credit who can butcher their own meat.

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I had a nice birthday surprise of a cheesecake with a candle. It even came with a song and dance from two of the owners. The celebration continued with our first alcoholic drink in Morocco. We had to drink up on the terrace since the place did not have a permit for it. It seemed like a bit of a hassle to get the wine, so we stopped at two glasses and called it a night. It was starting to get chilly anyways and my sarong (which I wore as a cape) could only warm me so much. Although it started off very rough, the second half of my birthday was nice!

First time in Africa.

First time in Africa.

I’m quite surprised I made it to Morocco since my plane was an hour late leaving Spain and I didn’t get to my connecting gate until 15 minutes after boarding time. However, apparently the planes never take off on time from Casablanca, so although I was late, they had only just started boarding. After a short flight at a 50 minute drive, I was welcomed to my hotel with some traditional Moroccan tea. I paired it with a veggie Tajine for dinner. It was completely enjoyable to eat it alongside the ocean. I slept well that night to the sound of waves in my own bedroom. This place I’m staying at is super nice!

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The next morning I had an early morning surf session at a spot about an hour away. After breakfast we drove out there and I was able to take in the landscape. The coast was beautiful and the inland was rolling hills covered with Argon trees. We drove down a steep hill and were suddenly in a fisherman village. This spot apparently has the longest riding waves in the area. I was excited to get started. It was a bit chilly so I was glad we were wearing wetsuits. However, once getting in the water I was even more glad. I’ve never surfed in cold water before and it was a bit of a shock! However, I “warmed” up to it pretty quickly. After a few hours of surf I was very tired and starting to get cold. We at some sandwiches and had some tea while we sat and watched others still surfing. I heard someone yelling dooooonutss fresh dooooonuts and I flagged him down. He was carry huge donuts in a tray (ballpark style) and would dip them in sugar while they were still warm. They were delicious! Some others ordered some fish, which I tried, but didn’t want my own since you literally get the whole fish. One of the guys decided to go out again but I was still feeling very tired so just lied down on a bench in the sun.

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We arrived back at the hotel around 5pm, showered, had dinner (this time a chicken curry which was my favorite so far…also there isn’t any alcohol on the menu which was a nice break after daily sangria in Spain), and then waited up for my friend Kristi who was arriving tonight. She didn’t get in until 10pm, but it was great to see a familiar face!