There was still much to explore in the Medina so more wandering took place today. I ended up getting another pouf (this time leather) and a custom made pair of shoes. They actually traced my feet and took measurements on them and let me pick out the materials and colors. I would have paid hundreds of dollars for these shoes back home, but only paid $60 here. The shoes fit.like.butter!
We stopped at another Berber village, this one with a focus on rug artistry, walked through a communal garden to get there. I was being offered little things made out of palm leaves by little kids, who were quite the hustlers. If you gave one kid money, then they would all come around you, so instead I surprised them with suckers. They grabbed on and ran away giggling 🙂 One tried to come back and pretend he didn’t get one the first time, but I couldn’t have forgotten that cute little face!
We took a car instead of plane to Marrakech today, it was an easy 3.5 hours and mostly a straight road. Once we arrived at the Medina, we had to walk the rest of the way because the cab couldn’t really fit down the streets. I ended up getting hustled by some kids who helped lead us there, only gave them 20 dirhams, but they wanted 200. The streets were super interesting. Small, covered, and filled with vendors.
This afternoon we stuck close by but found some good things. I got an oil lamp (that I’m hoping contains a genie) and some stress inhalers filled with eucalyptus. Then we were pulled into a rug store. We of course were offered tea, asked where we were from, told we were welcome, told we would get a special price, told we were family and all the other sales techniques these folks have mastered. Kristi found a few rugs and I bought two poofs. The nice thing about this place is that they’ll ship them for you, and they had a shipping book to see all the other places they’ve successfully shipped.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!