Day 77: Morocco, Asillah

Apologies if every blog starts…we woke up to sun/wind/rain/storms/hail/snow (delete those not applicable)…. but we’re British, that’s our “thing”, we talk about the weather! It’s the polite thing to do before we launch into the juicier tales.

I would like, ah, if I may…to take you on a strange journey….. It’s true there were dark storm clouds, heavy, black, and pendulous…” 

Rocky Horror Picture Show

…with lashing rain and the stormy, grey, green Atlantic ocean crashing on the beach just the other side of the campsite wall. But by 10am, the rain had disappeared and we were itching to explore.

Passports in hand (or at least, discretely shoved in a pocket) we set off for our first stop to the Maroc Telecom shop 100m down the road from the campsite to purchase a SIM card for one of our mobiles. £6 per day on Vodafone’s Roam Further destinations (essentially anywhere in the world outside of Europe) to have access to our full plan is far too hefty a price to pay for comms for our full stay here, so we leave that to use only in an emergency – like our first day on arrival. Click on the link to see our post in FAQs about Mobile phones & Landlines and keeping in touch on the road.

We spent the rest of the day finding ourselves a cafe which is now call “our tea shop” because we can get 2 large glasses of absolutely delicious “Te de Maroc” (mint tea or otherwise known as Moroccan whiskey!) for MAD6 (€0.60),

getting ourselves lost in the market…..

….in the medina near the port which, incidentally is fortified with walls and gates still in tact (and work is now taking place to preserve this all)….

……and walking the streets (we might just need some of those new shoes at the end of this!) cracking shells off delicious fresh, whole roasted peanuts bought from a stall near the market for MAD10.

There is some fabulous street art on the walls and even on a grey day the colours you see in the market, on the walls and doors, in the vegetables and on pottery stalls around town “pop”.

It is a town where cart & horse still prevail and subsequently so do road signs banning them from particular streets!

You might notice that some pictures are quite obscure or taken from the “back end” but culturally more conservative Moroccans don’t like photos or images of them to be taken both for privacy or religious reasons, so we ensure that every picture we take is done to respect their beliefs and with their permission.

Asillah is a “soft landing” in terms of a first visit to Africa and/or a North African predominantly Arabic country. The people mostly go about their business with very little of the hassling that you’d experience, for example, in Egypt. There is a bit of “come eat in my restaurant” “come ride my chariot” “come buy my peanuts” “here look at this art I do on recycled cement bags that you absolutely need” (truly!) but to counter this we generally keep our own council and if we don’t want to engage because we are not hungry/tired/thirsty/dying for some art, we avoid all eye contact and pass by with a firm but friendly no thank you/non merci/la shukran. The majority of local people are friendly and helpful and going about their day to day business of working, feeding their families and sending their kids to school just like us. If you know some French it might make you life a little easier but some Moroccans speak fairly good ranging to fantastic English.

Finally after 8kms of walking (our wandering about, not the distance to town!), we came back to the campsite buzzing with excitement at being back in Africa, back in Morocco but with loads of new things to do and explore.

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