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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yes, I know I'm a double post motherclucker(take that censorship program), but I know some don't get to the Blue forum anymore.

I arrived in Casablanca, Morocco, at night, after two days in Amsterdam, without a suitcase, or warm clothes, so I was really looking foward to a restfull night, a bath and warm clothes. Unfortunately, my suitcase got lost, but I did have two changes of clothes in my carry on, so I headed out to begin my adventure. One very generous Morocan gentleman offered me his leather jacket, but I could not accept, as it easily cost $1000 or more.

I took a train to downtown Casablanca, and then got a taxi to take me close to the rental agency. The two hotels next to the rental place were a Sheraton and the Hotel Dihram, I chose the one local out of curiosity. Very nice hotel, much fancier than I enjoy actually, so I went out to see Casablanca at night, and grab a bite. I found a hole in the wall restuarant about a half a mile down the street. The type of place that would not pass an health inspection in the states. And wow, was the food great, simple diced tomatos, kebabs, bread and the best damn chili sauce I've ever tasted.
After diner, I went to a couple of bars, and staggered back to the hotel.

The next morning, got up early, had two changes of clothes washed for $15 dollars, ouch, then went and pick up my 4x4. Got myself a Toyota Prado, which I figure was like a landcruiser. Right away, I could tell I was'nt going to do any heavy off-roading, as it had 8" wide tires, half bald, but I was here to explore light 4x4 trails, not rockcrawl. So off I went, driving through Casablanca was insane, much harder than driving in Europe, with cars, bikes, motorcycles, pedestrians, and donkey carts, all driving in diffent direction at once. I was very happy when I saw the coast, and knew I had gotten to the coastal highway. Things mellowed quit a bit after that. First stop I made, I got myself six 2 gallon bottles of water,
which ended up saving me later in the trip.
The first day, I just meandered down the coast, taking in the scenery.

The first thing that stood out, was the shipwreck cargo ship. This beach was sort of a weekend picnic area/market.



I went to the next town, Azemmour, which had been a former Portuguese fortified city. It was a very small, but pretty town, so I spent a few hours walking the streets.









This guy invited me in to his workshop, gave me water and tea, and showed me how he made scarves with a flying loom. One hour and two scarves later, I was on the road again, $36 less.

Five minutes later, got hit with a $50 speeding ticket, the rest of th trip went much slower. Every town had 2 police officers, standing in the middle of the roading giving out itckets, some larger towns even had radar. Most did'nt, not that it mattered.

Just outside of "Tit", no joke.


The lighthouse and cliffs of Jorf Lasfar


I made it another 50 miles south past the resort of Oulidia, when I decided to find a campsite for the night.


Twice I tried to find a secluded spot, but there were people everywhere in northern Morocco, and I got chased off by goat hearders soon after setting up camp. I finally found a lonely spot to camp for the night, but a fire was out of the questian.

The next morning, I woke up to this scene.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My next day, I started from Safi, a fishing port, with several very nice colleges, but I was afraid to take pictures, since all the colleges were surrounded by police. They generally take your camera if you are caught taking pictures of them.
This was an up and coming town, with loads of new homes.


At this point, I turned inland, and travelled cross country on some rough dirt roads. After a few hours, I came across, from what I could understand, is a od Spanish Foreign legion fortress.




Got to Essaouira at lunch time. It is a beautiful former Portugese city. I had fried anchovies for lunch, yum. It has literrally been 20 years since I had that. If you think it sounds terrible, you don't know what you are missing.
After lunch, I set out to see the city. This used to be a place where Jimi Hendrix hung out, and supposedly wrote "Castles made of sand" here. On the wasy in to town, I was struck by all the 4x4's.




This British couple I met, were planning to drive to the southern tip of Africa, A little crazier than me.


Anyways, Essaouira was a nice stop for a couple of hours.










On the way out of town, I saw a sign for Sidi Kaouki. That is a song by one of my favorite singers, Manu Chao, so I took a detour and found a very cool little beach hangout, populated by surfers and Rastafarians.

I had dinner at the restuarant on the left, owned by Ali and Mohamed, two really cool Morocans.

This building is a 300 year old tomb of Sidi Kaouki, a mystic who was claimed, could make women fertile.


I camped that night on the beach
 

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Day 3

Next morning, more camels.


Got back on the coastal highway and headed south towards Agadir. On the way, I entered Argan tree country. This tree is used for cosmetics, salad dressing, feed, and many other uses, it is a very important crop in Moroco. The goats like it too.


I kept going inland, and then circling back towards the coast. This is just a typycal non touristy village in the coastal foothills.


And back to the coast, 30 miles north of Agadir, near Tamri


This is where things took a turn for the worse. Passing a bus, all of a sudden, I had no power, I knew the suv was over heating, so I pulled of the road. Just as I did, boom, scared the crap out of me. Steam everywhere. Turns out, the radiator hose blew off.
Luckilly, I had ten gallons of water, so I fixed the hose, filled the radiator, and got going again. Just around the next turn, was a grand taxi(mercedes that are used as town to town taxis), steam coming out of his radiator. I stopped and gave him a bottle,
he and his passengers looked very releived, and puzzled that an American tourist had saved the day.
So back off I went, made it to Agadir at sunset, unfortunately, the Eurocar agent was allready closed. I got a hotel that night at the Argan, a nice 4-star place, I did'nt feel like camping, I need a bath and clean clothes.
I had arranged for my suitcase to be forwarded to the airport in Agadir, if it was ever located. They had found it,but unfortunately, had failed to foward it. With time to kill, I went and found a cyber cafe, and said hi to all of you guys, then went to have diner, a hamburger. Yeah I know, but every thing else was fancy or closed, and since I had on smelly two day old clothes, I chose not ot offend others diners, and had a hamburger at an outdoors cafe.
The next morning, I had managed to confirm the suitcase would be waiting at the airport that afternoon, so I went to the rental place to get a new car, but they said it was fine, had just been low on fluid. I said there was oil in the radiator, they said it was burnt antifreeze. Guess who eneded up being right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Day 4

So after leaving the rental car place, I decided I was going to drive up a Oasis/gorge I had seen the day before. So back up to Tamri, where I had broken down the day before. This was so cool to me, being so used to oak an scrub in a river basin, to see all the date palms. And for the most par, no trafic cops.




As I climbed, dry waterfalls started to appear.


And more Argan trees. And of course goats.


I kept going till I was on the ridgeline, looking for a good trail, something I had been waiting to do since Day 1.



Then I found it, the trail I would spend all day following, a little used dirt trail that flowed arond bends, and up the canyons. This was the only real day of solid off-roading I got to do, but it was a good day. I can't tell anyone how to get here, where it was, cause I put away my map and just drove.


I climbed up until this appeared after cresting a ridge. It is Mt Jebel in the Anti-Atlas range, I beleive.

Then back down into another valley.


Cool dry waterfall, with an irrigation channel in it

I spent about an hour driving around trying to find the way to this possibly abandoned village, but no luck.


After about 5-6 hours on trails, I crested a ridge, and was back to pavement, on top of the world.



I had driven south, crossing two ridgelines, and was now about five miles from Imouzzer-des-Ida-Outnane. When I saw signs saying cascades, I remembered having read about the waterfalls, known as the Bridal Veil of North Africa.



The falls were dry, mostly. The cave to the left of the falls used to be a hippie commune. Unfortunately, no tourist come when the falls are dry, and this may be the one place I felt in danger. The path to the bottom of the falss was narrow, and about 1/3 mile long. On both sides of the trail were merchant tables, and merchants that tried to physically restrain me, in order to make a sale. I ended up spending about $60 dollars, but got the shop keepers who I bought from to escort me back to my vehicle. When I got back, there were two "attendents trying to collect a parking fee, and several villagers, with handicap plaques who started begging while refusing to move away from the doors, until all my pocket change was gone.
I felt terrible, but apperently, this villages fortunes fluxuate, with the water in the falls. I was probally the only tourist in days.

After getting back on the road, I raced down a gorge, past anther oasis, and... a over heating Toyota. Filled it up again, and drove back to Agadir. I made it just in time, stopped at the rental place, and this time had my car swapped out. Went back to the hotel and had them call the airport. Finally, my suitcase had arrived. I asked the hotel clerk how much a round trip taxi ride would be. He said about $35, so I said I would just drive there my self. Wow, for town of 90,000, it seeme like I was driving in Casablanca again. Every type of vehcle imiginable, and no adhearance to an rules. The I took a wrong turn, and ended up in the slums. Traffic got worse, as the number of Donkeys goats and carts increased. Finally, I got back to the main road, 2 hours later, but the good news, my suitcase was really there. It only took 1 1/2 hours to get back to my hotel.
I got cleaned up, with fresh warm clothes, and the went out. I found a bar run by a strange german ex-something who told me tales of intrique, none which I can remember now. Inside the bar, Manchester utd and Real Madrid, were plaing on the large screen, as two groups one British, one Spanish, taunted each other from across the bar. Felt good to be in a bar, very comforting and fimiliar. The next day, I planned on getting away from all familiar things, and deep into the desert. I made one last stop at the hotel lounge, ended up getting really wasted and hung over. Not a great omen for the rest of my trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
mrsmainster said:
Wow it all looks so beautiful and unreal! Is there some significance to the blue doors or just something they all have?
Generally, they are in the cities with Spanish/Potuguese origin. Alot of thing in Morocco were very much Europe, every one knew French.
 

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Day 5

Woke a bit hungover, but determined to make time, I headed east and got to the ancient walled city of Taroudant. Just as I got there, I saw a flash in the rear view mirror. Lightning. I got worried about warnings I had heard about going into the desert during the Monsoon season. Specifically, don't. I sat there for about ten minutes, trying to make up my mind what to do, eventually, the wiser part of me won out. I turned around and headed back to Agadir. My only regret is that I did'nt spend time checking out Taroudant.
I got back to Agadir, through the mtns, where I came across this cool house. Actually, there were houses like the everywhere, even in the poorest of villages.

After getting back to Agadir, I set about salvaging the rest of the trip. I stopped at the Moroccan version of Costco, called "Metro", where I had to buy a one day membership for two bucks. I went to the liquor section, bought two cases of Heineken, for about $50 bucks, two bottles of Moroccan rum for $6 dollars a bottle, a case of coke, several packs of cigs, and a folding chair. Now I could at least sit out the coming storms.
I headed back to Sidi Kaouki, finally saying goodbye to Agadir.

Got there just as the sun was setting, and found a nice spot in an Argan forrest, next to the beach, to camp for the night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Tubig said:
yummmmmm, me likey
I like too, I was jealous. My rental 4x4 was so stock. Next time, I'll just steel one I like. ;D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
FJ-Piper said:
Awesome photos Steve. You definitely have an eye!
Thanks, I wish I was better, but I'm learning. I need to get a new SLR
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Days 6 & 7

Well, back in Sidi Kaouki and a big storm rolling in. I woke up to this.


I explored the tomb some more

This is a room for couples who are trying to conceive. The door was locked, so I stuck my hand through a small opening to get this shot.

And if what I am told was correct, this is the tomb of Sidi Kaouki.

More of the beach



I spent two days waiting out storms, sitting in the cafe owned by Ali and Mohamed. When the sun came out, I went to the beach, and relaxed. The patrons of the cafe caught wind I was getting liquered, and since this place did'nt actually have a bar, I became the bartender. There were six of us who partied for two days straight, Ali and Mohamed, one of their friends, a brit surfer James I think, a fench surfer, with a guitar and myself.
At night, Ali and the french guy played Bob Marley, and Manu Chao songs. Food was free, since I brought the booze. The next two nights, I got a really nice room, for $15 dollars a night. Ate good, Moroccan food is really good. I just relaxed, and waited for the rain to stop.
 

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Day 8

Sun was out, I decided to make a break for it. Went back to Essaouira, got breakfast, and then explored a little more.





After lunch, I headed cross country, through a pine forrest, on a flooded out logging rd. Lots of trees, and then I came to this old castle.




This was actually a very large castle, falling apart, probally because it was too far from a pavd rd. Its a shame. What I did notice were thecamel and donkey bones every where. I started to get worried climbing around in it. Lots of brush, bones every where, and no villages nearby, I'm guessing it was overun by cobras, so I left, before finding out the hard way.
That night, I camped next to a river, besides the castle, under some eucalyptus trees. Did'nt get out much, out of fear of snakes. Slept well, except for the ocassional loud thumps, I would hear occassionally. Thought it was the acorns from the trees. Nope, it was the flock of crapping peacocks, dirictly above the Toyota. Next morning, the grey truck was white washed.
 

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damn amazing photos, im so jealous wish i had the time and money to travel like this, but glad you're back home safe and i bet you missed the fj!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Day 9

Did'nt do much, started raining after lunch. I had lunch in this little resort town. I ordered a chiken tanjine, and wow, even thought it was a little cold, it ranks among the ten best meals I have ever had.


Kept going up the coast, rain started pouring.



Finally, I had enough, I found a small resort town, Oulidia, and checked into a 5-star hotel for just $100 a night. I went hog wild pampering myself, got a four hand massage, went to their upscale bistro, just splurged, while it rained.

After all the special treatment, I decided to go to the bar, before the bellydancers performed. Bad mistake. Two older Moroccans men introduced themselves to me. One was an english teacher, the other a french teacher. It was clear, they had a few before I arived, but they were not drunk. I fixed all that by ordering rounds. Tehy wanted to hear about American views, I politely kept things close to the vest. I got the impression that the french teach did not like anyone who spoke english, not by body language or other subtlties, but becasue he kept saying so. The english teacher loved all things American, and defended me. He defended me so vigorously, he grabbed a bottle, and went after his collegue. Hotel staff intervened, I walked away sheepishly. Lessson learned, don't by strangers drinks.


Day 10

My last full day, and the rain stopped, so I made a dash for some sightseeing. All the roads were flooded, many places, I had to guess where the road was. I saw an entire town surrounded by water. But I had a goal, I wanted to see Kasbah Boulouanne. It was the only interesting thing in the area, and I had a day left.
Getting there was a major pain, some roads were too hard to find, others were solid mud, most were'nt on the map. It took 3 1/2 hours to go 45 miles, but I found it.




The sun actually started coming out, as I drove back to Casablanca, so I took my time and enjoyed the scenery.


 

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WOW.............i'm speechless. those are amazing photos and your naration is great. thanks for sharing your travels and i'm sure we'll hear more about it on the VIKING TRAIL!
 

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I have absolutely nothing to say....I, too, am speechless! OUTSTANDING thread, excellent pics, and perfect narration. I felt as if I were right there with you on your trip. I haven't posted till now because I didn't want your story and pics to end!! Kudos!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
BoBoNel said:
WOW.............i'm speechless. those are amazing photos and your naration is great. thanks for sharing your travels and i'm sure we'll hear more about it on the VIKING TRAIL!
Looking forward to it
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
FJDave said:
I have absolutely nothing to say....I, too, am speechless! OUTSTANDING thread, excellent pics, and perfect narration. I felt as if I were right there with you on your trip. I haven't posted till now because I didn't want your story and pics to end!! Kudos!
Thanks

I did'nt want it to end either, or at least another week.
 
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