When I went: October/November 2015
We ended up in the tiny beach town of Tamraght based on the recommendation of three Australians who disappeared from our life as quickly as they had appeared. In hindsight, maybe we should have planned it so we arrived well before midnight, but by the time the bus left us on the edge of a dead silent village, it was a bit late to reconsider. Squinting at the vague directions to the hostel which were based on landmarks we couldn’t see in the dark, I asked my traveling companion, “How do you feel about sleeping on the beach tonight?”
By some stroke of luck, we made it to the hostel, and long story short, I’ve been here ever since. At over a week and a half, this is the longest I’ve stayed in one place since I left Houston in mid-August. I’m starting to feel like a real person again. I’ve finally gotten past the the repetitive “where are you from/how long are you traveling/where have you been” conversations and made some friends. I don’t have to cram all my days with activities to make sure I don’t miss out on anything, and oh my goodness, it feels good to procrastinate on planning the next leg of my journey a bit. And this is a great place to dilly-dally.
What I Did
The primary reason my friend and I came down here was to go to the nearby Paradise Valley, which is a valley oasis with palm trees, natural pools, and fantastic rock structures. That was everything I dreamed of and more, but in addition to that, I’ve surfed a bit (the one surfing lesson I’ve had was a year and a half ago in Nicaragua, but it must have been a good lesson, because I’ve still got it!), lounged a bit, watched a few sunsets, haggled in the the nearby city of Agadir for a sleeping bag that I am immensely proud of, wandered through a souk, eaten a lot of pomegranates, taken a camping trip to the beach with natural stone arches by Legzira, eaten Moroccan crepes, and not to mention, spent a ton of time laughing with new friends and eating delicious food.
However, the experience that strikes me most isn’t the type of thing you would see in a tourist brochure. One day, I set out to grab a pizza for lunch on my way to meet some people down at the beach. In a loose tank top and mid-calf sarong, I felt like an immodest Western woman. As I approached the tiny pizzeria, I vaguely remembered someone saying that it was often looked down upon for a woman to enter a cafe alone. Whatever, I was hungry and in a tourist town, after all.
I stumbled through ordering pizza, using what little English the man working there spoke and the few words of French I’d picked up in the last couple of months. While they prepared the pizza, I bought some water across the street and came back to the restaurant to wait. The man working there had just sat down to eat a tagine* with a friend.
*A tagine is a typical Moroccan dish that is always shared. I’ve eaten at least one a day since I’ve been in Morocco.
When he noticed I had come back, he motioned to me and to the tagine and said, “Come eat!” I politely declined, figuring he just felt bad about eating while I was there possibly starving. He insisted and pulled a chair up, so I didn’t have much of a choice. There was plenty for three people, and by the time I left with the pizza I no longer needed, I was full and had heard about his wife who is an English teacher and seen a picture of his adorable young son. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a food establishment where they invite you to share a meal with them, and I was struck by his kindness and hospitality. Far too often, the only interaction I get with local men is heckling from shop owners or attempts at romance from men who see me as an easy European woman, so it was nice to see the more subtle, but wider-spread friendly side of Morocco.
Universally, I’ve found that I love small towns, and this one was no exception.
How I Got There
I took the bus that runs from Essaouira to Agadir, through Tamraght (3.5 hours and 60 dirhams, or ~$6), but there is also a bus that runs from Marrakech to Agadir, and then you can take bus 32, which runs from Agadir to Tagazout, through Tamraght. If you take a taxi, be aware that they will try to overcharge you. One offered to take my friend an me for 900 dh (~$90). What a deal.
Where I Stayed
Lunar Surf House
One of the things I love so much about this place is the hostel I stayed in. I’ve slept on the roof for the last week and a half or so, waking up to watch the moon set in the early morning before going back to sleep. It’s a new hostel run by a transnational couple (Moroccan/Australian), and it has one of the best social vibes of any hostel I’ve experienced. There are delicious shared meals for breakfast and dinner that bring everyone together, and since it’s a new hostel, I’ve gotten to watch it develop a bit. I fell in love with a feisty kitten named Luna who lives here, and is currently passed out in my lap. I really like the people here, and I’m sure I’ll be back before I leave Morocco.
As I sit here writing this post, I have plans to leave for Tafraoute this afternoon. However, it’s looking more and more like I’ll be here another night, and I’m not at all upset about it.