Day 80: Morocco, Asillah – Moulay Bousselham via Lixus

RouteAsillah – Moulay Bousselham, Morocco
Route Details
Overnight stopCamping International
34.875999, -6.28847
Overnight CostsMAD80 (£6.41)
(services, good mobile signal)
Diesel / litre MAD9.64 (£0.77)
Exchange rate 12.47

It’s moving day today and the sun is streaming into Kaya as we open the door. We’ve checked the weather app and it forecasts a beautiful clear day all down the coast. So we set our heading for Lixus, our first stop of the day. But not before a good breakfast of souk sausages & eggs, fresh baguette and a cup of nous-nous.

Here’s the background to Lixus:  It’s claim to fame is as the very first trading post in north Africa and the biggest distributor of garum, producing millions of litres per year.  The vast majority of the animals used in the gladatorial games in Rome, were also shipped from Lixus.  The entire site is a massive 190 acres with only 20% of it having been excavated.  Following a huge investment between Unesco and the Morrocan government to develop the site for visitors, it only opened to the public this year in 2019, so we have been extremely lucky to see it.

MAD60 each to enter and we were happy not to take an “official” guide all standing around waiting to tempt you.

We were a little disappointed as we entered at the first set of ruins of fish vats for making Garum, millions of litres of fish fermented whole with guts and all. But before you squirm, it was just today’s version of Worcestershire sauce!! There has been work done to help get around on concrete paths and displays describing the ruins (only in Arabic and French so you need to understand a little of either).

When you get to the top of hill after a bit of a slog and passing the amphitheatre with incredible views of the salt pans, you understand why it was built here and just how amazing it is that after 2000 years the structures are still visible and recognisable.

Readers, the walls and floors were touched by human hands and feet, voices echoed through the rooms and leaders orated here over 2000 years ago….that still has the ability to completely blow our minds.

We’re both a bit geeky like that.

There’s no restriction as to where you can go or where you can walk, as we wandered around, trailing our fingers over hand chiselled rock set so tightly together without a single space between and sat where thousands of souls had sat before.

And then we looked around at the 360deg view from the Palace and we understood why Lixus had been built just here.

Finally it was time to leave so that we make it to Moulay Bousselham before sunset. So we made our way reluctantly back to Kaya and set off.

OMG look a Marjane as we were leaving Larache behind us. So it was an obligatory stop for a few more items that we didn’t get in Asillah (kitchen paper towel, cheese and a few cold meats for lunches – mostly reformed turkey breast, smoked, pressed, thinly shaved but when there’s nothing else, shaved & smoked turkey breast has to do!!!) and back on our journey.

Look Maps.Me says it’s 45minutes to get there. We have plenty of time. But the gods were listening and they were displeased!!! We had decided to leave the toll roads behind and take the N1. The recent rains have affected the roads to Moulay quite badly. The tarmac has been washed away in large circlular spots leaving us travelling at 10mph weaving between the potholes and the sides eroded leaving the road just one vehicle wide and when oncoming vehicles appeared having to drop Kaya’s tyres off the sharp, high edges, wincing each time and keeping a beady eye on the tyre pressure monitor.

And it only took 1 second of loss of concentration to follow Maps.Me without checking the route, for us to end up bringing Kaya to stop in front of a market up both sides of the road leaving just enough space for 1 regular vehicle to pass through with people, donkey carts and animals filling the space between, in front and behind. Of course, TIA (This Is Africa), and vehicles were happily hooting and hollering as they squeezed passed each other and threaded themselves through the throngs.

“There must be room for us,” from the ever-positive gorgeous Mr T – he, who is of the opinion that he can perform miracles and can thread a 2.4m wide motorhome through a 2m space back in Ovada. A pretty heated difference of opinion ensued with me wanting to back up and, having checked the route finally, realising we can get back onto the road we were before and take a longer route around, the gorgeous Mr T of the opinion the way forward is the way to go. “How bad can it get?” The gods were continuing to listen and how they chuckled!

As I was outside directing him to back Kaya up, the local Moroccan men were at his window telling the gorgeous one to go forward. Against my better judgement I got back into Kaya and this is how our 500m took 30 mins to drive. All without a loss of life (thank god!) and the only victim was a piece of rope tied across the road from one awning to another. Ooops! The awnings, I can report, survived. We passed other vehicles, donkey carts and loads of people who thought it was a hoot to bang on the side of Kaya to tell us we were doing great and to carry on.

Male testosterone…..huh…..I’ll stick with menopause thanks (I think!)

We finally got through and with a huge release of breath and with this the only sign of any tension, the gorgeous Mr T said, “fuck, I could do with a double whiskey.” How we laughed.

We finally arrived at Moulay Bousselham 2 hours after leaving Marjane for a 45 minute journey and spent the last of the evening watching a beautiful sunset over the Blue Lagoon……and swatting away fat, lazy mosquitoes – not the worst ending to a day.

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