Emma and I had been staying in Sidi Ifni, a beautiful coastal town that has surf shops, beach-front cafes, and signs everywhere telling you to “relax”. We woke up late for our plan to walk from Sidi Ifni to Legzira, a tourist trap built right onto the sand. It was a three hour hike along the coast that takes you under naturally formed rock arches and over craggy goat paths dotted with desert brush. I had a lovely time, and I was amazed to find along the way, several huts constructed out of driftwood and any other sturdy thing that had washed ashore at some point. They are positioned inside caves that have been carved out of the cliffs by ancient waves. They are built and adorned by the indigenous Berbers, who live there year round, and fish for their dinner. I could not ascertain the legality of their homes, but besides the two of us, and the occasional jogger, I don’t think anyone knows they are there. If I can figure out how to get wifi there, I am moving in.
The reason you can’t be late for such a romp is because the tides come in around noon, trapping you in certain places on the beach with the ocean on one side and a sheer cliff wall on the other. Every time we turned a corner towards the end we were hoping to see a banner advertising tanjines. Noon crept closer along with the water, and at about forty minutes past eleven, we came to a cliff that jutted out into the sea. The waves lapped gently against the rock, blocking our path. We climbed out onto some loose rocks that were still sticking out among the waves and tried to assess our situation. It was decided that I would shed my socks and shoes, and scout out the other side of the wall. By the time my first shoe was unlaced it seemed like the water rose half a meter, and I began to have flashes of tomorrows headlines in my head as I finally waded out: “Dumb Tourist Smashed On Rocks, No Brain Was Found”. I waited for the surge to pull back out to the sea, and then ran (can anything you do in thigh deep water be called running?) to the other side. With a rush of adrenaline, I turned the corner to see what adventure lay ahead, and I found a French toddler in a red jumper bopping along the sand. We had found the fabled tourist city.
We ate a quick lunch in Legzira, and then walked up the hill to catch a bus to Tiznit. Legzira consists of nothing but five identical restaurants and a guy on a dune buggy egging you on in French to rent it. On the hill up we passed an entire town that appeared to have been recently constructed, but whose only resident we could find was one lost and mean dog. I was reminded of all those hotels and city centers they built in Pyongyang. They have individually wrapped soap in every bathroom, but no staff or customers. It was a perfectly preserved ghost town surrounded on all sides by dusty roads and desert.
At the empty highway at the top of the hill, we waited for a bus that we were told would come every hour. A guy dressed like a Sith Lord got out of a car that was headed down to Legzira, and stood a few meters away from us, waiting for a second lift further down the line. Emma and I decided that we could save a few dirhams by hitching a ride ourselves, so we tried to flag down any vehicle that passed by going towards Tiznit. Because of the desert terrain, we could see hundreds of kilometers in the other direction. This allowed lots of anticipation to build for each car that passed us without slowing. The sun was still high in the sky, but the wind from the sea kept me in my hoodie. The Sith sang songs to himself in Arabic that the breeze carried over to my ears. I sat in the dirt and wondered how someone who dressed as sharp as him had nowhere to be. His phone rang, and he spent the next several minutes screaming and laughing at the person on the other end. While I was waiting for him to finish so he could sing for me again, we noticed a car had pulled up to the road, and the driver was waving at us. Emma and I grabbed our bags and ran over to him before the Sith could notice.
The driver’s name was Abdir, and he is a dear. Abdir is a French teacher from a town just outside Casablanca. We are in the middle of Morocco’s summer vacation, and he was headed to see the rock arches at Legzira, but determined that the road towards it became “unacceptable”. Upon entering his car he tried Arabic, and then French on us, finally he laughed and settled on English, but not before apologizing in advance for his lack of ability. This apology came twenty minutes before he gave us a full history of the Berbers, and their struggles with the Byzantine Empire. All in coherent English.
We drove to Tiznit where we stopped for tea, and then on to Inezgane where he was staying, and showed us where to get a taxi to Agadir, which is our destination tomorrow. On the way we talked about our families, the king of Morocco, London, bicycles, America’s second amendment, and of course; travel. He is a wonderful human being, and the best friend we’ve made on the trip so far.
I am now in a crummy hotel in Inezgane, cheap even by Moroccan standards. But there’s internet, and a bathroom that may or may not have a shower, that I definitely just took a shower in (it’s hard to tell, and even harder to explain). My feet still feel like I’m walking on the rocky shores of this country, and the room at the end of the hall smells in a way that makes me hope they’re just cleaning a fish. But I am full, I am warm, and I am not out of money yet. No complaints.