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Morocco

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Eventually we made it all the way north to Chefchaouen, yet another top Moroccan destination. But, before that, after my Surfstravaganza in Taghazout (under pressure I bet you’d be hard pressed to decide which of those two words I just made up) and not so surprising illness that followed, I dragged my weary self in to Agadir and onto a bus bound for giant chaotic Marrakesh, feeling not quite as nauseous yet still unable to eat and, I believed at the time, rapidly bordering on starvation. Meanwhile, Laynni, Lyle and Nadine were also on their way to Marrakesh from the completely opposite direction, having spent a few days out in the Draa Valley, Dades Gorge and Skoura areas Laynni and I had already visited a month earlier. Neither of us knew exactly when the other was leaving, how long their trip would be, where they would arrive in the million-person…

As I rolled into town early one Sunday afternoon in a rickety local bus my mind turned from humorously optimistic visions of magically transforming myself into some fantastically talented surfing superstar to more immediate concerns, namely my somewhat less inspirational surroundings. At first glance Taghazout is a shabby little town dumped messily along the waterfront that somehow manages to be both dusty and filled with dubiously grimy puddles at the same time. Upon further exploration, however, well, it still looked very similar. It is a strange combination of traditional and modern – despite a burgeoning surf community built around, at last count, 15 (!) surf camps, and all the nonchalantly cool and suspiciously fit young people they attract, Taghazout remains a dry town (meaning you can’t buy alcohol, not dry air that leads to sinus problems and big time humidifier sales), and has neither a gas station nor a single,…

A messy little village spread haphazardly near a number of beaches and surrounded by spectacular cliffs, Mirleft is incessantly pounded by crashing waves and teems with young Moroccans playing football on the wet sand and occasionally squealing in strangely high-pitched voices. Surfers come for the uncrowded and largely untouched waves, the touring campervans for the warm weather and tremendous views, and the European expats for the opportunity to go from being an unremarkable drunk in a big pond to a massive drunk in a small, otherwise alcohol-free, pond. The fishermen come for, well, the fish. When to Go Blessed by a mild climate all year round, Mirleft is a perfect place to escape from a cold northern winter. And seemingly as though it were planned, winter is also the time of year when the waves are at their best and biggest, or possibly most frightening and generally unpleasant, depending on…

Search for Missing Glove in Taroudant Called Off Taroudant, Morocco – A Canadian man is in mourning today as authorities called an end to an exhaustive fifteen minute search for his missing glove. It had been last seen stuffed haphazardly into the pocket of his jacket while he rode a ramshackle rental bike around the outside of the city walls. Police suspect the glove disappeared during one of his many stops to admire the impressive ramparts, paying particular attention to the way the setting sun changed the colours of the ancient mud-brick surface. “The glove in question was allegedly sharing the same pocket as a small camera. We are working on the assumption that at some point he reached into said pocket for the camera, and when he withdrew it, the glove was inadvertently ejected onto the street, or sidewalk, presumably going unnoticed at the time.” The man only noticed…

After Skoura we made our way up the road to the Dades Gorge, one of the three most important gorges in my mind, along with the nearby Todra Gorge, which we had visited back in 2004, and the immortal Gorge “The Animal” Steele. We sat jammed into a large share taxi/van for the spectacular 27 kilometre trip up the gorge to Chez Pierre, watching in fascination as the walls alternately widened and narrowed, repeatedly changed colours like an old lady’s hair in the sun and contrasted starkly with the lush green palmeraies surrounding the meagre trickle of water running down the centre optimistically referred to as a river. The gorge had a number of things going for it – great views, a quiet rural atmosphere, amusing little log bridges, women herding donkeys overloaded with branches three times their length – and just one serious downside. Soooo cold. I mean, not…

The City Our long awaited return to Morocco finally arrived last weekend when we took a roundabout set of dirt cheap flights from Madeira to Lisbon, Lisbon to Madrid, then Madrid to Marrakesh (and eventually on to Skoura Oasis). Marrakesh is home to a famous medina full of mad souqs and ancient traditions, some of which have been continuing virtually unchanged for centuries. Traditions like selling fresh squeezed orange juice, charming the pants off dangerous looking snakes and effortlessly fleecing clueless visitors such as ourselves and befuddled tour groups from France, Italy and China. The famous/infamous main square, Djemaa el-Fna, is actually so raucous, festive and ludicrous it has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status putting this open expanse of pavement filled with weirdos into the same elite class of attraction as the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and some little village in Algeria known for smelling…

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