19 October 2012

Travel Day
Going to Tiznit
Or Not

Today we had to get out of Agadir.  We have been here for three days now, and it is time to move on.  As this will be the first time we are changing locations in Moroc, we were a bit worried.  We don’t know the transport system, and all that goes with it.  We did know that there are big intercity busses, and shared taxi’s that ply the trade between smaller towns.  However which was better?  We found out that the busses are more expensive, but comfortable, whereas the taxi’s fit 6 people + driver into a car (2 on the front seat and 4 on the back).  We decided on a bus.

The opportunity facing us here was to pick a location.  The entire country is open to us.  We were not sure if we should start heading north, as there is not that much to the south, or east where there are supposed to be some interesting towns.  On top of this, we don’t know if we are going to try and get into Mauritania or not…  It is a hard life!  We selected Tiznit to the south.  It is the silver capital of the area, and apparently there is a large camel market further south on Fridays.  We wanted to see just how many 4000 camels are.  This is the highest offer I have been made for Anna so far.  A bit of a joke, and we think the numbers are so high as to make sure of it.  If I was offered 50 camels, I might think they were serious.  Although, 4000 would be a bit on the low side for me.  You would have to throw a few liters of Amber and a kilo of saffron…

Now we just had to get there.  Luggage and all.  The helpful people at reception found the bus station for us on the map, and it is a way past the souk.  Not practical with our bags, so we had to take a taxi.  Another first here.  With my pregidous against taxi drivers I was a bit worried.  The first taxi to stop did not speak english (well, it is Morocco) and it took a while to get a mutual understanding of where we wanted to go.  Still we got there in the end, and then had to set a price.  He started with 10DH.  Done!  We had been quoted about 15 DH in the hotel, and we were not going to argue over a dollar.

Le Petit Taxi

The taxi trip was good, as we got to see a bit more of the city that we hadn’t walked already, and my only issue with the petite taxi as they are called, other than their distinctive red colour, is their size.  They are small.  Our luggage had to be on the back seat as there is less storage in these things than a matchbox mini minor.  It was a good thing that we had an idea of where we were going though.  About half way there, our driver was taking us to the taxi station rather than the bus.  On informing him of this, it was not a problem.  U-turn in a busy street and off into the opposite direction.  I was dreading the increase of price that was sure to come.  On arriving at the station it didn’t happen.  He was happy with his 10DH, and off he went, leaving me confused about the lack of problems.  I just hope all our taxi rides here are like this.

City hopping on public transport

The bus station is a large circular building, and on entering there are only 2 kiosks to buy tickets.  The big CTM and Supr@tours.  We tried the smaller first.  Today had been running so well that there had to be a catch.  They were sold out of seats.  There was one at 8pm to Tiznit, but we declined, not knowing if we could find a hotel easily or not.  Tomorrow was fully booked as well.  We went outside to regroup and work out what we wanted to do.  Looking at the CTM side, it did not seem as if they go there.  Outside we were approached by a big taxi ( inter town one) driver.  He asked where we wanted to go.  On telling him, he started to offer us a taxi for 400DH.  Not interested.  it progressively dropped, and eventually he went and got a list of places and prices.  It was marked on here as being 250DH.  Still not interested.  200 was his final offer.  Not interested.  We wanted to take the bus (although we would have the taxi to ourselves).  Going back in we tried to book a ticket to Taroudant to the east.  Booked out.  Tomorrow?  Nope, full again.  So again over to CTM, this time we waited for the people to finish, and ask.  They did go to Tiznit.  After a few clicks of the mouse we found that there were even seats on todays bus.  2:30pm  Perfect.  Tickets booked.  However it was still before 11.  What are we going to do for the next few hours with all our luggage?  Finding out we could drop our bags off, we went down stairs.  The building must be on a hill, as there are three floors, and we were on the top.  You have to go out the back of the building on the bottom to get to the busses.  On the bottom floor we found all the rest of the bus companies.  There were a few!  We had no idea they were there.  It was an extra 5DH to drop our bags, but this was fine, as it was an inclusive service, and they would make sure the bags were on the bus.  Well, that took all of ten minutes.

Souk again

As we were fairly close to the Souk, we started walking down there.  It was a lot further than we expected, and by the time we got there, we were wondering if we were on the right road.
Preparing ourselves for the worst, we went in.  This time we went in the opposite gate and started at the jewelry and trinket area.  Walking around the complex, passing through all the different sections, we found that we had only done a small amount yesterday.  There was clothing, music, tailors and more.  The furniture section was interesting, as there were some lovely pieces being made.  We escaped into this section,as we were sure they would not try to sell us anything!  The smells of varnish and sawdust mingling with the fragrances of the spices further away.  If we lived in Morocco, there would be no problems furnishing a house!  Then we came upon the shoes.  All different types from the plastic crocs to traditional leather boots.  There were cobblers repairing them, and hawkers selling them.  A true riot of colours.
During this time we only got hassled twice.  The first was when we came across a stall we had been at yesterday, and not bought something, and another when we stopped to admire some woven platters.  The technique was similar to what Anna had been taught in Arnhem Land, so we had to have a proper look at them.  They had the standard fibres insides, but the weave was a plasticy substance.  It worked well for the piece.  However the salesman saw this as interest, and it was hard to extract ourselves from his at times physical grip.
This done, we still had time to spare.  Sitting outside watching an altercation between a taxi driver that had run his car into the back of a womans vehicle was interesting for a while.  The traffic building up, and trying to get around the two vehicles in the middle of the road.  Then off for a cup of tea at a cafe, looking onto some ugly buildings, and a busy arterial road managed to pass some time, and not just from the bad quality of the tea.
The bus turned up a bit early, and was gone by 2:30.  It was a good thing we were at the station or we would have missed it.  Not sure if this is standard, but I think we will be early for the next one as well.  The drive to Tiznit is about 98km (in the book from tourist info 78km) and should take an hour and a half or so.  It took about an hour to get out of Agadir.  We had to drive to the depo for fuel, and then back to the main road.  On the way there were many half finished buildings.  Not sure if these are new projects, or people running out of money.  Further into the trip these buildings kept cropping up, but were completely done and rendered on the outside, and empty on the inside.  The colours of the buildings also started changing from trying to be nice white colours with a coating of dust and car exhaust to pinks browns and oranges.  Again, most with a covering of dust.

The landscape was fairly flat around us, but you could see the Anti-Atlas mountains in the distance.  There were a few towns in between, and lots of stony plains.  These had cairns built up all over them, and we are not sure if these are marking out people’s plots or not.  It seems that they are only growing cacti if they are.  Closer to Agadir there are massive greenhouses, but these peter out further away.  We did cross a small creek that had water in it, and a few broken down buildings and walls.

View from Bus

About two km from Tiznit the bus stopped at a rest stop for the driver to get a feed, and we had to wait for the next half an hour, while the clouds rolled in overhead, and it started to rain.  By the time we left it was a fairly heavy storm, and it was still coming down when we reached Tiznit.  The trip had taken us over two and a half hours!  Driving into the city we stopped worrying about accommodation, as there were plenty of clearly marked hotels along the main road.  Pulling into the bus bay, grabbing our bags and getting out of the rain.  It started easing up when we found a hotel for the night.  A bit run down, but in our price range.  (The room is still bigger than our first night though).

Palace at Tiznit

We had no idea of where we were in relation to the city, or what there is to see, so off we went to explore a bit.  As it happens we stumbled across tourist info straight away, so we stepped in to get some info.  The guy there was just closing up for the night, but was happy to see us.  A map, some tips about the town and we expected to be off.  We asked about a specific beach we had heard about, and how to get there, and he offered to show us the way to the taxi station (no busses).  This would be great.  Along the way he took us into the old medina (town).  This is completely walled off, and includes a jewish sector (although the last jew here died about three years ago), the old souk, which is focused on silver, and the palace.


The palace was built in 1883 when the king at the time founded the city.  There is also an important water resevoir here, that the town is named after, but did not see it.  Wandering the streets of the medina talking was a lot of fun, and the traffic managed to avoid us, as we were not paying any attention to it.  Out the other side through one of the gates in the wall, we were at a taxi station.  This was to go to different places, and not the one we wanted.  Hassan (our impromptu guide) was fascinating.  He had studied tourism at Uni, and seemed to be happy to have interested people to practice his english with.  A born tour guide.  At the next taxi station, we expected the tour to end, as he has a life to go to, but it didn’t.  We meandered up the streets further into the new medina, into a shopping centre where we got to meet a man from Fez that does wonders with cloth, saw some silver being crafted (The intricate designs are done in stages and although we didn’t see that being done, can imagine how hard it is) and clothing/shoes etc.  Not just in the centre, but all along the way.  Dropping in on friends here and there as we were talking.

Hassan : A good man is hard to find, unless you are in Tiznit!

Not once did he try to sell us anything.  This bill is going to be huge!  We ended up at a small cafe where we got some soup.  This was good as we were both starving by then.  It was great.  We talked a lot about life, and a little about religion and politics.  It is hard to avoid these subjects, but we tried.  It is just that they are so entwined with life and culture.  After the soup disappeared, we had some good coffee, to finish the night (our conversation had not finished..) and by the end, the cafe had taken away all the seats except ours, swept the floors, and waiting patiently for us to leave.  He had taken us to a nice place, that served good food for local prices, and was surprised that we had paid for his.  Hassan offered to take us to meet his mother, but we thought we had taken enough of his time, but said that if we are able to (with us having no idea where we will be tomorrow) we would catch up again.  Thinking this was it, he then walked us back to our hotel.  This was probably a good thing, as we had no idea where we were, but really touched us.

It was the perfect finish to a perfect day.  If somewhat long.  So now I have typed this, I can go to bed.



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