|Headed out early to the bus station- got picked up straight away by a tout and got taken via the back entrance and on to a ramshackle buys before you could say salaam. Our 4 hour bus trip took 5 hours- ' semi stops to give a bribe to the police at the checkpoints, one stop because the engine overheated, and one stop for non bribeable police who checked the odometer and bus drivers papers. The best part was that we saw the famous Agidir goats who climb the argan tree to eat the leaves. The argan tree has been a vital commodoty for the locals for centuries, for its therapeutic properties. Recently the argan oil has found favour in France and New York in clinics etc. The nuts are fed to the goats where the digestive system breaks down the hard outer layer of the nut. The women then collect the dung and roast the nuts lightly, before pulping and pressing them. The result of 30 kgs of nuts and 15 hours of labour is 1 litre of oil.
The bus station is south of the town so a taxi ride brought us to our chosen hotel El Bahia, however it was closed for renovations but they sent us down the road to their sister hotel where we got a lovely room with TV (french channels) and soft (!) pillows.
Went out to find a meal as Brian now fit enough to eat something and wonder of wonders a restaurant had a set menu for 35 dirhams, normally we have paid 70.
Thu 03 Nov. Have decided to depart Casabanca around 09 Nov for Malta. Tinkered about on the internet to get the cheapest fare (backpackers now, not a travel agent!) only to find that after diligent searching we had to have a paper ticket not an emailable one, which goes to show that travel agents are still worth their weight in gold!
Lazed about down at the beach- Brian even went for a swim, declaring that the water was warm.
Fri 04 Nov. The day started as usual with the Imams singing their hearts out, and later we coud hear drums and cymbals clasing as Ramadan ends for 2005 and Eid al Fatr arrives- a holiday and day of celebrating with family and friends.
For us- when we went downstairs our reception guy was sitting at a table with w friend sharing a massive breakfast, of which he offered to us. We declined gracefully after acceptinga sweet caje and then went off to a cafe and our favourite waiter gave us petie dejeuner. Later we walked down towards the beach passing closed travel agents, so not tickets today. We were keen to find out what the celebrations wopuld be like- well the day was all about promenading and fashion. A real mixture, with the men almost outdoing the women. Striking brand new djellabahs, mostly cream to light lemon, plain and striped, covering a long white shirt and trousers, accompanied by generally white or yellow slipon shoes; sometimes a red fez, skull cap or djellabah hood or simply bareheaded. From toddlers to adults, they looked very handsome.
The women ranged widely- in a group of three or four women one would be in the height of modern fashion, one in a strict muslim cover from head to toe, and another in a long top and trousers with an (often seethrough) exotically coloured djellabah over the top- all colours and really beautiful.
We sat upstairs eating a late lunch and watched the parade below, and apart from the overweight underdressed tourists, it was a great spectacle that carried on into the evening hours.