Back to Morocco!
Border? What Border?
Walk & Beach
Bus to Taourirt
Taxi to waterfall, cascade? L’Eau and Whoosh!
Friendly Police & Germans
Taxi to Gorge?
We have to leave dreary old Spain today as we cannot afford the prices over here (well, we could if we stayed off the grog!) so it was with a light step that we made our way back to the central round about where we could catch a bus back to the border. We are hoping that the weather will improve in Morocco, as there is nothing as dreary as a coastal town in the wind and rain. So where are we going? Another coastal town! Having passed through Nador twice, we thought we had better check it out properly.
Friendly people pointed us to the right bus stop (there are two side by side, and we picked the one with the most Moroccans. Turned out to be the other one!). On the bus, and back to the border. At least it is easily recognised. There was a stream of people flowing in both directions. Going to the right, where people were heading to the post, we past a few policemen, and made it to the Spanish immigration point. Here we were both ignored, and we were not sure when we left Spain. There were no stamps, or checks. Walking back to find out, we were told to proceed to the Moroccan side. There were people here with wheelbarrows wanting to take our luggage, and others wanting to give us forms to fill out. Not falling for that one twice! The booth was for entry into Morocco. A casual glance at our passports, and asking if we were just popping over the border to see friends, we explained that we still had a fair bit of the country to explore, and would need another month or two. This was not a problem, and we were passed through into Morocco. It was as easy as walking across the park. The only surprising thing was the amount of Moroccans walking back carrying their shopping. Most people had blankets and others clothing. Leaving, we had seen people going into Spain with food.
It is surprising, as we thought things would be cheaper in Morocco than Spain. Especially as we had seen 75Euro baby shoes, that the baby would probably grow out of by the time they got home in the evening (Long, late nights…).
At least here, we can afford the coffee, and I was going through withdrawals after almost 48 hours without. Then it was off to catch a grand taxi. It was fairly easy to explain we wanted a collective one, after they worked out we knew roughly the right price. Then we were crammed in, and off to Nador.
At Nador we were dropped at the main square, rather than the grand taxi station. This was not a big problem, as there was a selection of Hotels nearby. The first proved to be ok, so we dumped our bags and went out to explore town.
Down to the water front. There was no beach as such here, but a nice walking boulevard on the ocean front. It was still inclement weather, with a light drizzle. nothing enough to worry about, but enough to be annoying, and make everything damp. Looking back at the Garbage in Melillia, it was not a patch on seeing a computer monitor resting just under the surface of the water in the seaweed.
From the water, we wandered around the town, out past the bus station and into the suburbs. The rain picked up occasionally, but we were able to hide out in coffee shops and miss the worst of it. Walking through the covered market, past all the clothing shops, and generally around the town.
We needed to escape from the rain, and though that if we headed inland we could get away from it. This meant a walk out to the bus station, which was not too bad, and we easily found a bus to take us to Taourirt. The trip out was through a few hills trailing off the end of the Rif Mountains. Rolling hills, green grass and flocks of sheep and goats.
On arriving at Taourirt, we were not sure if we had the right place or not. It was supposed to be a moderate city, and it seemed to be a small town with not much around. Turns out that we were dropped off out of town. Luckily we chose the right direction when we went looking for a hotel, and ended up coming to one of the main squares.
Here we found a cheap hotel. However there was no one there. The guy from the shop next door showed us a room, which was acceptable, but we couldn’t get a price. He tried to find the manager without luck, and then pointed us in the direction of another hotel. This one had somebody there, and we checked in. It was a bit difficult, and the guy was intent on explaining things in Arabic that we had no idea about. It should not be that hard to fill out the form, show our passports and pick up the key. Normally this is over in a few minutes, rather than the 45min it took…
The reason for going to Taourirt was two fold, there is a cascade here and a gorge. Both should be interesting. The sky was still overcast, but there was no rain at the moment and we decided there was enough time to try for the waterfall. Finding the grand taxi station, we tried to make our intentions clear to no avail. We think they eventually understood what we were after, and they sent us to another taxi station on the other side of town. Finding this one, we repeated the pantomime. Waterfall didn’t work. Cascade turned into cash card and then we started charades, with water flowing over a cliff. “L’Eau, Whoosh” with hand gestures. This got a round of laughs but no understanding. Someone that spoke English came forward to try and help, but thought waterfall was a German word, or was it Spanish? Hindu? But we got there in the end. Someone offered to take us, and we were to follow him. This took us back to the first taxi station. Here we go again….
After a while, we were told to get in a taxi. We assumed they knew by now where we wanted to go. It filled up and we set off. Back out the way the bus had come in. This was the wrong way, and when the taxi driver pulled over to work out where we wanted to go, we got a bit worried. A bit further on, and it was confirmed we were going the wrong way, we wanted to stop and get out. He realised we were not going where we wanted, and said not to worry, he would take us back to town after he had done his run. At one of the police checkpoints he found someone that spoke English, and had the officer explain to us that we would have to pay double for the return trip. Thanking Officer, we decided to walk. We were only about 20km from town, and sure we would be able to hitch when we got out of sight from the police checkpoint (not sure how legal it is to hitch). This caused a bit of a stir, and after the taxi had left, we were called back by the police. They had organised a lift for us to get closer to town with a truck they had been inspecting. Apparently it was not a problem, and the driver was happy to take us in the right direction. The truck was a bit run down and had a top speed of 50km/h on the flat, and a lot less up hill. Still, it was good to be able to watch the countryside. Unfortunately our driver only spoke Arabic, but we still tried to chat as we travelled.
We were dropped at the next police checkpoint, and started walking the last 6km to town, before we had gone far, another car stopped and waved us over. It turned out to be a brother & sister that had lived in Germany for the last 25 years, and they were happy to give us a lift back to town. To cut a short ride and long story short, he had been smoking heavily and she was definitely on something, and just past the last police checkpoint he proudly pulled out his pipe… Still they were a very nice couple, and if we had not been wet and miserable, we probably would have spent some more time with them, as we had good conversation on the way back. We just wanted to hit the hotel and not have anything to do with anyone by now.
We thought we would try for the gorge today. At the cafe and taxi rank, we tried to explain what we wanted, but soon gave up and just decided to take a walk out of town. It is amazing how little some people know about their own region. We can understand that a minor waterfall can be lost due to construction, dams or similar, but a gorge just doesn’t decide one morning to get up and walk away. Moroccan towns are very compact, and it does not take long before you pass the last building and enter the countryside.
Following the mighty Zaa river,
we passed through the next town, and then the wind and rain got the better of us.
There was a rail bridge about half way back to the only other bridge across the river, and we managed to make it across it. This took a while, as there was a train pulled up there, and we had to wait for it to go past. Turns out the bridge was under repairs, but the men had no problems with us crossing it, even if they were somewhat surprised.
Not much written for today, but we were well walked, and foot sore by the end.