The Moroccan South Coast Part 2: Imsouane, the Atlantic and food poisoning

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Alex

The bus from Essaouira spat us out at a junction flanked on both sides by tufts of course brush and desert. “Wait here, someone will pick you up,” the bus driver cracked in broken English.

The three of us, eased by the big green sign that read our destination, sat and waited. A traffic cop stood directing flies away from his bristled nose. Flashes of heat came but we had a breeze that said the sea was somewhere close. After a while a spluttering Mercedes 3 series brushed past the cop and pulled over. Four passengers got out. For 100 dirham we jumped in and left the non-whites to face the heat and the dust. It’s hard to know if it’s OK, or if they were as pissed as I would have been if a taxi driver dropped me off in the middle of a field in Somerset and picked up three men from the Gulf.

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Coming down the Mountain

Huts on the left and steep drops on the right for 5 miles.

The taxi driver, fish and beads hanging from his rear-view, talked in German because I had said “das ist gut” when we got in. After a quick ascent he cut the engine and we dropped over the mountain, catching glimpses of the most blue water.  Each time we tucked around the tight bends sand swirled around and up from the balding tyres. The final roll into town came with a view of the Great Atlantic, curling at the lip of Africa.

Wild dogs and the whole village of people crowded the car when we pulled up to the medina, which was a little shop with a grill that was waiting for the days catch. We walked around like idiots for a while, not knowing where to go but being told to go in every direction. A boy, wearing shiny black tracksuit bottoms that I remember from when I was younger are brutally itchy in hot weather, offered us a place to stay, some food and then some hash. It is a general rule in Morocco that if white people don’t want what you have then offer them something else until you crack the puzzle to money.

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Tracksuit Boy’s Gaff

We said no to frankincense, gold and drugs, and left the poor lad itching through his pocket. The Café Auburge sits at the top of Imsouane and, unlike the rest of the town, remembered to tie its shoelaces. Inside the colours are bright and the women float around tidying and fussing. When Aran, Alex and I came through the sliding glass doors a pretty, headscarfed girl called into a small room.  From his lair came François, a skeletal bond villain with slick black hair and rotting, cracked teeth worn from a life of chain smoking, opium and probably jail. After 10 minutes of bartering he let us stay for 60 dirham each. The normal price was much more. If it was surfing season we would have been staying with itchy tracksuit boy.

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The Walk to the Beach

That night we followed the distorted reggae and ate burgers at a shack that looked cool with fairy lights and big music. As we waited Alex went off to get sodas because the fridge didn’t work at Billy’s. The burgers were brilliant but that’s where the trouble started.

“If they don’t have a fridge for the drinks what do you think they do with the bloody meat,” Alex laughed, tucking into his food.  I have never seen someone look so alarmed by something while at the same time completely betray common sense.  Five hours later all three of us shared the bathroom. Nobody slept.

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Boy’s Fishing

The next day we got a lift to the other side of civilization and waited for someone to take us Taghazout.  On the way out boys fished into the deep blue with lines of string. Their simplicity as beautiful as the colours that framed them.

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