Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Surf, sun, color and culture - a Moroccan tajine of good times

So last month I took a week off with a couple of mates and departed for Taghazout, a place that already holds fond memories for me. But should it really be classed as holidays? I mean the Choclo project is all about generating money for needy kids through the sale of products that allows us to lead a certain lifestyle right. And, this lifestyle is built around what moves us, whether that be waves, travel, yoga, climbing or slacklining. With this in mind I set off, allowing myself to be taken away with the smells, the light, the people and the zest of this wonderful North African country. I was a little put off to arrive at Anchor point and find the ocean totally flat. After having spent three weeks there about five years ago with consistently pumping swell it actually didn't even occur to me that it could even be like this. It looked like a totally different place, wave less - yes, any less beautiful - no. The charts had told us the best day would be the next one so we tuned up the sticks and hit the hay, hoping to be awoken by the sound of waves crashing against our apartment. Yes, that is how close we were to the shore! Instead we woke to the sounds of cats and dogs but I bounced out of bed nevertheless and found excitement in one-foot side shore peelers. Confident it would improve I woke the others, did some stretches and got out there. Proving to be a bit harder to navigate than I initially thought I kept missing the section until the conditions and myself got to know each other once again. But, it wasn't until that evening that it really turned on, with 4-foot glassy perfection. Plenty of waves for everyone kept the atmosphere cool and the tension levels down. The camera crew was in position and everyone got their share of the icing. With smiles on our faces, although sometimes hard to see when some of us finally got out of the water, we fed and crashed hard, ready for more of the same in the morning. Well, unfortunately that was it as far as waves go, other than some messy rodent size wind swell. After a bit of moaning we decided to make the most of it and check out some of the Agadir souk, Paradise Valley, the breathtaking coast as well as doing some deep sea fishing and reef snorkelling. As most trips, the memories you hold on to usually depends on the people you meet. As well as being surrounding by great mates the locals were genuinely friendly, helpful and often hilarious. And none more than our first encounter at Casablanca airport who diffused a potentially frustrating situation into a fun experience. Three hours of stories of his successes (oh no, it was lack of success) with women in Bordeaux and 100 phone calls and emails to an invisible person in the same airport we were finally granted permission to enter the local hotel where we went about stuffing our faces on free food until they finally found a plane that could fit all the people that had already been issued tickets. Apparently this isn't common practise! Another amazing human experience was when our car unexplainably broke down, only to the delight of about 10 men, all with different ideas of how we could get it started. Expecting to be cleaned out afterwards they all disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. And some say the people are friendly in Australia, well try getting that type of help anywhere near civilisation By the time we set off on our fishing escapade we were starting to get used to it, only to be tested by what we thought was an open invitation (or rather obligation) to jump off the side of the boat and snorkel around in open sea. It seemed they just wanted to go fishing and we were just along for the ride. Wrong again. Once they realized we wanted to snorkel they catered to our needs despite their concerns that we wouldn't have enough fish for our evening meal, the real reason they wanted to get the lines overboard. Great people equal good times but check it out for yourself. Some of them might look a bit sinister, especially the kids (SOME of the guns were fake), but trust me they are as good as gold! If I never see Casablanca airport again however there will be no love lost! Am I inspired - YES