Thirteen months of being stationary feels like an eternity to somebody who has spent over 7 months abroad since December 2010. So when Easyjet released their latest list of bargain flights we very quickly decided to make our first visit to Africa. Morocco to be more exact.
The southern city of Agadir is a very touristy destination. The sort of place we would normally avoid in fact, but it is also the most southern airport that Easyjet fly to in Morocco. So we decided this would be a good place to start our short adventure.
As soon as we landed things felt both familiar and different. We have seen so many unfamiliar foreign airports now that the confusion they bring feels like an old friend. We quickly fell into our well practiced routine. Find an ATM, find out what a taxi should cost, negotiate with a taxi driver, pay too much for a taxi. Soon enough we were in a clapped out old Mercedes on our way to Agadir.
Whilst Morocco is a devoutly Islamic country they have the good sense to relax things to make tourism easier. It wasn’t hard to tell that Islam was important in Agadir but at the same time it felt quite relaxed. Tourists had plenty of flesh on show and there was a long beach with a pleasant promenade where you could buy ice cream and tourist junk. I bought a fake watch of some description.
We decided to explore and soon enough came across the fish market. Here local people come to eat fresh fish and seafood pretty much straight off the boat.
Whilst we consider ourselves well travelled and wise to the scams and rip-offs that are so internationally common (you may recall our baptism of fire at Hanoi train station) we were caught a little off guard here. Blinded by our hunger we failed to agree the price beforehand. We feasted on delicious calamari and what transpired to be hake and upon asking for the bill we found that we were being asked to pay around £30.
My first reaction was to laugh. The place looked like this to give you some perspective.
Our bandit waiter was not laughing. What we had pointed to on the menu board was priced at around £5 so I pointed at the board a few times. He responded by dangling what remained of our hake in front of my face. This went on for a while until I got fed up and gave him £15 to sod off. He wasn’t happy but lost interest when we walked away.
A couple of years back this would have been unsettling. It was far from friendly banter after all. But we just laughed it off. Ten minutes later some other travellers caught up with us having witnessed my rather public disagreement. When I told them what we had paid they seemed to think this was a fairly decent outcome.
Ripping off tourists is a major business in a lot of the places we visit. Rarely is it aggressive or nasty but it can be frustrating at times, especially when larger sums of money are involved. It becomes an issue if we do not know what something should cost. The taxi in a new country straight from the airport is the finest example. So if we can give one bit of advice to anybody heading off on their first adventure it is to be prepared.
We spent the rest of our only full day in Agadir having a look around the town, watching football on the beach and eating ice cream.
The day after we wanted to travel south to a little town called Mirleft. The journey didn’t exactly look straight forward but we set off to the bus station ready for an adventure.