‘Never say never’ goes the well known saying. One to which the wise amongst us do well to subscribe to as, if nothing else proves an old adage true, time will out and reveal all, as all things inexorably change. What once was, will indeed be repeated, as lessons from the past are rarely learnt at the first time of asking.
I thought (and we all know what thought did), that the Moroccan Debacle of 2018 was one consigned to the history books of our Life’s Rich Tapestry, never to be revisited – at least in this lifetime, save for within these here annals of Carry On Regardless.
Charlotte’s evident desire to subject us once again to the finer reaches of being off the beaten track have been brought to the fore, as this break from the oppressive summer heat in French France, to Agadir in Morocco, has now subsequently shown.
At this time in the month of August, the Atlantic Ocean facing coastline of Morocco is blessed with a cooling breeze and low cloud every morning from about 7am until 1pm and quite a few degrees averagely cooler than the Loire Valley in France.
Harriet informs us, as we feel a few drops of precipitation, that, “it isn’t rain, it’s just the texture of the clouds” which, for Harriet, is a deeply profound passing comment. Normality is quickly restored when, returning from the pool bar, she informs us that “today the water feels rather heavy. Heavier than usual and not the normal weight of water in the pool”…. ‘Harrietisms’ continue to restore our faith in her ability to surprise and enlighten. Every day’s a school day with that girl!
A local seller of excursions, who tours the beach promenade outside our hotel, extols the virtues of using his services rather than the frightfully expensive mainstream package offerings from the young Willo the Wisp slip holiday Reps that pester you to join in with pool exercises, Giant Jenga, Yoga Yahtzee or anything else they have dreamt up to keep you occupied during your week stay at an all-inclusive, adults-only, sun-worshipping escape from reality.
Charlotte succumbs to Abdel’s patter and immediately signs us all up for a beach buggy thrash across the dunes of Northern Africa on the Atlantic Ocean coast just a short trip south of Agadir.
Being collected in a minibus displaying more dashboard warning lights than our LED bulb festooned Christmas tree, we bounce our way from the safe confines of the hotel grounds, into the bustling throng of the Agadirian rush hour, with Alfie commenting on how the road surfaces here in Morocco surpass the quality of those back in the UK. His findings are short-lived to say the least as we are soon far from smooth tarmac and on roads where only the experience of our local driver saves us from certain catastrophe. I don’t have much hope for the longevity of this vehicle’s life in which we are being conveyed, or that it would pass a roadworthy examination but, here in this part of the world, perhaps the rigorous tests we are used to having our vehicles subjected to, are somewhat less stringent…
For a while, our driver negotiates his way towards Sidi Bibi before taking a sharp turn to the right and, with a noticeable decline in living standards, we are now being given a tour of real life in the outskirts of civilization. The shoebox concrete block unfinished structures that line the road show how a vast proportion of people live here in this part of Morocco, with barely a roof over their combined heads and, as we head further and further south, so the accommodation standards sink.
After almost an hour travelling we arrive at an encampment at the side of the road where a line of quad bikes and a line of beach buggies are drawn up in front of a couple of garage shacks.
With the standard barracking of orders being barked in Arabic and French, smattered with a few English interjections, we are directed to the vehicles that will be our charges for the duration. As one of the ‘mechanics’ pours petrol into a tank, we are handed goggles and face masks. We mount our beasts and in a shower of stones and dust, we continue our adventure into the wild.
Single file, we plough over rough terrain, swerving the larger boulders and scrub that does it’s best to whip the skin from any exposed flesh that presents itself for a thrashing.
I check the mirrors and note that Harriet’s beach buggy behind us has stopped en route, whereupon we all come to a halt and our lead buggy returns to ascertain the cause of the issue. Quickly restored by turning it back on, we continue to the sand dunes, racing about in gay abandon until our leader also breaks down.
Armed with a spanner and pliers the driver tinkers and taps the exposed parts of the engine until he admits defeat and jumps aboard our buggy, reminiscent of the amusement fair bumper car attendants, who ride shotgun on any pretty girl’s car. (I’m not alluding to Alfie and me in any way, shape or form looking like a pair of pretty girls, but you get the picture).
Stopping atop an impressive sand dune highpoint, our guide makes a call to base for reinforcements to come to his aid and a while later, following an impromptu photoshoot for Harriet who instructs Jack on taking suitable shots for future Instagram postings, we continue to the very edge of African continent existence, where we are invited for mint tea and refreshments with the ‘locals’…
At this point where, facing west, next stop is America, more photo opportunities are taken and a while later we leave the settlement, jumping aboard our trusty beach buggies and race back to base camp, George and Alfie doing their best to make their engines pop and backfire to scare any local person in passing.
A thrilling ride and an unforgettable experience for us all, we make the return journey to the hotel knowing we have had a fabulous time and an eye-opening educational tour of how the local people live and make a living here in this area.
Tomorrow we are camel riding along the beach at sunset. Never say never! What can possibly go wrong…?
Carry on regardless…