17 December 2012

Al Hoceima to Taforalt

Nador & Berkane

A simple day again today.  Up for an 8am bus.  This was better than the 6am one the other day, but not much.
As we were too far from the Bus station, we had to grab a couple of cabs.  The first ones we came across were not interested, as they were having breakfast, but we easily found some.

Drink your juice quickly! The bus leaves in five minutes.

Drink your juice quickly! The bus leaves in five minutes.

The trip out to the station gave us some views of the cliffs, islands and area.  It is a pity we are moving on today, as we could have spent a few days here. David and Sophia are running out of time for Morocco, so we will be travelling a lot quicker for the next week or so.)

Finding the bus was easy, and our bags were loaded on without charge!  Then across the road, where we made a man very happy by being his first customers for juice.  This took a while to prepare, and we had to scoff them to make it back to the bus in time.

Morning sun on the ocean.

Morning sun on the ocean.

The trip itself was through some pretty landscapes.  We were worried at first, as the bus seemed to do a large loop around the area, and we thought it would visit every town between Al Hoceima and Oujda.  After half an hour we were only 11km out of town.

Coastal farm shacks.

Coastal farm shacks.

It got better from there.  We followed most of the new coastal highway until we reached Nador.  The views were spectacular.  At times, the Riff Mountains went all the way out into the Mediterranean.  There were valleys, hills and mountains.  Rolling fields were everywhere, and olive trees dotting the landscape.  Not dotting exactly, you could say covering.

Lots of cliffs along the coastline.

Lots of cliffs along the coastline.

The bus pulled up at Nador for a while to load tins of Tuna and boxes of Pringles.  It is a duty free port, and lots of people were stocking up on items to take back to their villages.  We assumed it would be more along the lines of white-goods or similar, rather than general popular items.
The usual parade of people came on.  Selling chocolate, biscuits, fruit, watches etc. and we were off again.

This next section, we left the coast and headed back into the hills for a bit.

Lonely tree at the end of the Rif mountains.

Lonely tree at the end of the Rif mountains.

Finally arriving at Berkane.  Berkane is a fairly big place, but we were not stopping here, just changing transport.  As we were dropped right next to where the grand taxis were, we found out how much it would be to continue on, and went in search of lunch.  I love non touristy towns sometimes.  Here we found the first proper sized and priced Tanjine in a long time.  It was good to see, and bodes well for the area we are going to visit.  Then coffee and a break.  Having gotten over the cramped bus, it was time to get a Taxi.

We couldn’t get a shared taxi, but the price quoted for the four of us was 80Dh to go to Taforalt.  We thought that was about right, and had no problems piling into it.

The trip out to Taforalt is beautiful.  The taxi wound its way up through a range and popped out on top.  Here there are a few shops spread out along the road, and we are dropped off.  There is not much here.  The aforementioned shops and a bitumen road.  There is a sign for a Gite d’etappe 3.5km away and we didn’t see any hotels.

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While we were standing there, working out what we were going to do, somebody came up.  Sophia went to talk to them, and I went to check out a large map of the region on the roadside.  Here someone also came up to me.  Apparently the Gite is about 300Dh a person.  Well beyond our price range.  There is another hotel about 5-10km away that is 150/pp.  On going back to the group, Sophia said the same thing.  Now we were wondering if we should just head back to Berkane.  We didn’t want to do that though, as we had come all the way here.  However, at this time a friendly restaurateur came up.  Offering us free tea, he made a couple of phone calls, and organised for us to stay behind the post office.  This is set up sort of like a school camp.  It is perfect.  There are four beds in a room, and the room is 200Dh.  There is even a western toilet (With bucket flush) and HOT SHOWERS!

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Old ruins on a hill overlooking town.

Old ruins on a hill overlooking town.

We dropped off all our gear and went for a walk around the town.  There really isn’t that much.  Going up the back street we went to get our passports, but they had not finished filling out our paperwork yet, so we continued up the hill.  At the top of the hill is an old ruin.  It looks like a Spanish complex.  Multiple buildings and walls.  We say Spanish, as the buildings have peaked roofs, rather than the traditional flat ones, and we are in old Spanish territory.  From here we watched the sun set.  At 5:00!  There is something to be said about a beach (On the west coast at least).  Back at town we had a car pull up, and the police got out with the guy running the “Hotel”  They were there to return our passports and fill out the last details for the paperwork.  No problems, and we got back to our room.  There is an internet cafe conveniently next door, so we spent the rest of the evening trying to update the blog (We did get a couple done, but I have been lax in my typing.).

Day done, and we are looking forward to being able to sleep in tomorrow, before we hit the gorge.

AA

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