Saturday 19th January 2013

How much more of this can we take?
Yesterday was just over the half way point of our trip….6 weeks yesterday we must be on a ferry back to Spain having had our allotted 90 days in Morocco without a visa. We find it surreal to realize that we, the at first reluctant ones who weren’t really sure if we could hack it and (I’ll admit this now!) oh so nearly turned round and headed back to Spain on day 3, are still here in Morocco heading south, while all of our fellow tour companions are either already home, back in Europe or heading that way. We are also talking about and making plans for coming back next year which shows how much we have grown accustomed to Morocco. Marrakech still haunts me with its tantalizing sights, smells and sounds….I’ll never forget my time there.
We have just had 6 nights at Sidi-Ouassai, the first few of which were getting Nigel over his second bout of food poisoning in three days. We think it was caused by some frozen fish which we had bought in the supermarket, the rest has now been thrown away! While we were at Ouassai campsite, a French couple invited me to share a taxi with them to a local souk which was a fantastic experience, the range and quality of fruit, vegetables and spices were awesome but it was difficult to persuade the stallholders that I only wanted small quantities of things, the locals buying kilos or sackfuls at a time. Unfortunately I had no camera with me, having dropped my blackberry in a bucket of laundry water the day before otherwise I would have tried to capture the moment. At one point I saw some ladies behind a curtain handling some revolting looking brown gunge, it was fascinating and they were quite happy for me to watch and very friendly, they were extracting argan oil. I do intend to buy some before we leave but would prefer to buy a sealed bottle rather than a used olive oil or water bottle.
Tesco Value veg?
I did however buy a large quantity of fruit and vegetables, some preserved lemons, some almonds and ras el hanout (spice mix). The fruit and vegetables cost less than the equivalent of ¬£3! I wonder how much they would have cost in Sainsbury’s?

Beach to ourselves on the way to the lagoon

Nigel had a tense moment one day when after deciding to take his bike off the bike rack and go and scout out the bird reserve, he found he had not tightened up his seat post and had lost an all important nut and washer through vibration on the journey. However, we had started chatting to some other British birdwatchers who had arrived the day before and luckily, Derek saved the day by finding suitable replacements in his toolkit. We had wondered if we could take the motorhome to the reserve when we left Ouassai so Nigel went on his bike to see if there was a wild camping possibility…..NO was the answer. So the day before we left we took a picnic (well marmalade butties and satsumas) in our rucksacks and set off along the beach, the alternative and more direct route. After a couple of hours we reached the end of the lagoon and within a few seconds, the guardian came scurrying along. We were content to just sit and watch but he stayed and stayed and I was eventually glad he did because he pointed out a little owl to me, sitting atop a ruined building that I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed. We saw cormorants, grey and purple herons, Audouins gulls, crested larks, serins and terns. But sadly, no bald ibis, they were apparently feeding another 4k along the coast and having already walked that distance with the same to return, we didn’t want to add another 8k to our walk. Everyone here who helps, talks, guides you expects to be tipped. I only had a few dirhams on me, the change from buying bread that morning, probably about 30p but I offered it to the guardian and he seemed chuffed to bits and went off back to his little hut. Belle and Dash were suitably tired that evening after 5 hours on the beach. (So were we!)
Ipsi the whippet, our neighbour.
We had a new neighbour the day before we left, a French lady solo motorhomer from Savoie, her companion, a beautiful male brindle whippet called Ipsi!
Sidi Ifni Campsite…a little crowded!
We are directly above the C of campsite
almost hidden by the grassy bank.
Yesterday we set off for Sidi Ifni, a former Spanish enclave further south on the Atlantic coast. The campsite is right on the beach but it is crowded. Anyone reading this who was on our tour and hasn’t been here, it’s the campsite featured on the back of the Vicarious guidebook. We didn’t arrive till quite late in the afternoon so all we had time to do was get set up and have something to eat. We had stopped in Tiznit on the way, a very nice town and had lunch in a roadside cafe.

Tiznit Centre Ville

Interesting topiary

Rows and rows of square cut trees lining the roads

As we were getting sorted out I suddenly realized that I recognised the British couple in the motorhome behind ours. They had travelled more or less in tandem with us while we were on the Desert Detours tour, we first met them in Chefchaouen (day 2) and many of our stops thereafter. They caused great hilarity at one point by pulling in just to say hello at one of our stops but misjudging the depth of the sand and getting thoroughly stuck. They had to pay a local to tow them out with a 4 x 4.It turns out they are now travelling with a couple who have a barge moored in Auxonne, near ours and who introduced themselves to Nigel while I was back in the UK. Mutual boating friends of ours had told Bob to look out for the owners of Liberte who were touring round Morocco in a Pilote motorhome. Lo and behold, he turned up at the same campsite as Nigel at New Year and now, three weeks later we have met them again. Small world!
On the way yesterday we had the usual mixture of good and bad road surfaces, some were simply dire!


Even more dire
Hmmm, that’s better but for how long?

We saw a variety of flora and fauna along the way including turtles in Ouassai and the predominant flora as well as the argan trees were prickly pear, these are often used as field boundaries, I wouldn’t like to try climbing over them!

Someone having a bad hair day?
No, carrying a load of thyme on her head.
Turtles on the rocks in the ouadi.
Prickly pears and argan trees

We looked at the weather forecast online and were dismayed to find out that showers are forecast for this weekend….bit of a shock after 5 weeks of wall to wall sunshine!
Oh no, a cloud in the sky….is the weather changing?

Accordingly we woke up to grey skies this morning but I don’t expect any sympathy in view of current weather conditions in the UK….Mandy and Bill, I have seen your snowblower video on fb but not got a good enough connection to play it!

This afternoon I had a walk up into town and a wander round the market. Just bought some vegetables and oranges. Got back just before it hammered down with rain. Good timing!

Sidi Ifni fruit and veg market