How often do you have to give way for a donkey in a roundabout?
It is not unusual to see a cart pulled by a donkey wave through the traffic in Agadir. The city is claimed to be the most modern city in Morocco. Even though Moroccan culture is still visible the people live modern lives. Men even dress up rather casually in hoodies, but most of the women still wear scarfs and should cover their body. Despite that, the city does not look especially modern to a westerner and the villages in the region even less so.
In the village Tamraght local men ride Arabic horses on the dirt roads. It is a sad little village with plenty of empty unfinished houses and rubble on the ground. The roughness does add some charm but the amount of litter on the ground is devastating. Especially the wasteland strip in between the village and the beach is dotted with plastic bottles, bags and wrapping paper. The whole of Agadir region could use a thorough environmental cleaning programme.
Luckily the beaches are mostly free of waste. And that is where you will be if you are surfing or sunbathing. It is the over 300 days of sunshine and famous surfs that bring travellers to this area. That is why it is wise to keep the shoreline clean. Especially because the locals benefit from the tourists lying on the beach. Tea, coffee, doughnuts, camel rides, blankets…men walk from selling their goods. 10 dirham (approx. 1 pound) for a mint tea is not much for a thirsty surfer.
Morocco is a gateway to Africa so it is a mixture of European ways and African culture. In Agadir the locals are used to tourists who bring money to the local businesses. Visiting a hammam is one of the cultural must-dos in Morocco. There are spas for tourists, where men and women wear swimmers and go to hammam together (250 dirhams/ 25 pounds for an hour). Ladies who only speak Arabic and French throw buckets of water on the perplexed tourists and scrub their skin before patting clay all over their bodies. It is not the traditional way, but still relaxing and refreshing. And fun, if you have a good crew.
When you need something to eat or want to buy some bits and bobs head to Souk El Had aka Sunday Market, which is open every day except Mondays. The market is massive, fruits here, shoes there, spiced in the other end and used clothes in the other. One side hall is full of chickens in tiny cages and some spice piles are being explored by wasps. It is a good idea to take a close look at things you are thinking of buying. Everything is cheap. At least if you know how to haggle. Pancakes for 5 dirhams (approx. 50p) and smoothies for 12 dirhams (approx. 1.20 pounds). Fake Ray Ban sunglasses for 35 dirhams (approx. 3.50 pounds)! Most of the people are very friendly and helpful, but tourists get often overcharged because they strike out from the crowd.
Morocco is different. I didn’t especially enjoy Agadir, but I had a great holiday in Morocco and I will write another post on the great part of my holiday, surfing.