|I managed to get a tout to swear at me and stomp off in a huff today - result.
Non of the big 3 reliable bus companies were running from Ouarzazate so I had to go for one of the private ones. I chose TAM Express purely as it had the best departure time of 8:30am, not too early but with an estimated journey time of 4-5 hours (LP) should get me to Agadir by early afternoon. As usual I got to the bus station early, if I was directing my own movie I can picture the scene - happy music (Summer Holiday?) plays as we scan across the bus station at all of the shiny modern coahes, cue scratched record and change to the funeral march as the picture stops at the dirty ancient wreck at the far side of the lot. Check ticket, yup, that's my bus!
I paid my 5Dh for my pack to be put on the roof of the bus, so old it didn't have luggage compartments, there were already 2 Spanish guys on the bus and I quickly realised that they had nabbed the only 2 seats with any legroom, behind the rear door. I scoured the bus for a seat with even a memory of having some padding left and tried out my choice. "No leg room" is an understatement, my legs physically didn't fit into the space provided. I left my daypack on the seat and got off to stand around and smoke wit the rest of the victims. Being an optimist I got back on just before 8:30 and took my place sitting sideways across the two seats but nothing was happening. At 8:45 the ladder was removed and someone started the engine, flooding the station with a mushroom cloud of noxious smoke. 5 minutes later the driver started reving the engine and blasting the horn (they always work) but still no-one got on. Then eventually the bus started moving forward and got aout 5 feet when everyone started shouting for it to wait - now they decided to get on.
Unfortunately with private buses, time isn't money, passengers are money, so we had to ensure that every seat was filled before we really left. 9am and were off! - to the petrol sttion on the edge of town! We filled up, 900Dh worth, and the boss from the office who'd sold me the ticket paid, I seriously thought that were were then going to drive bak to the station to take him back but no, this time we really were on our way. I now had someone sitting in the seat next to me so I had to rearrange my legs into the space not provided, it wasn't too bad at first I managed to attain a sort of equlibium between discomfort in knees and buttocks and actualy fell asleep for a while. The first major town set the tone for the rest of the trip, people get off, seats are counted and furious bargaining to ensure a full load begins. I guess that Morocco must have a law against standing on buses as although every seat was filled and more people wanted to get on the ticket man wouldn't allow anyone to stand in the aisle unless they convinced him they were only going to the next village (a few lied until a seat became free). You wouldn't believe how many towns and villages there were between Ouraz and Agadir. After four hours we weren't even halfway when the inevitable lunch stop came but it was a relief as I was in mounting pain by this point.
The final 200km were agony, my backside felt like I'd just done a 30k bikeride, my knees seized up and gave me pain wherever I put them and I had a solid ball of cramp in my calf that was giving me bad thoughts of DVT. I wasn't alone though, most of the Moroccans on board looked just as pained as I felt, when one guy let out an agonised moan I thought he was going to jump out of the window but he had just stood up to stretch. It got worse, as Agadir approached people wanted to be let off as close to home as possible even if this was less than 100m from the last person to get off, the final 20km alone took nearly an hour. At last we were there, or not quite there, the bus only went to Inezgane the regional transport hub 13km south of Agadir town. I was expecting to stop there, in fact I was praying to stop there just to get off the bus.
Once liberated and with my pack recovered from the roof I just wanted to stretch and have a smoke for a while but the touts arrived. I told one guy to go away but he insisted on telling me I wasn't in Agadir and had to get a taxi. He kindly offered to get me one for only 100Dh. I told him to go away again, politely at first but I ended up with him getting a real strop which pleased me enormously. I took a shared taxi to town for the grand total of 4Dh.
I've spent the last 3 days recovering in Agadir and preparing myself for the trip across the Sahara. My Yellow Fever Cert is now valid, I've stocked up on anti-malarials, trying Doxycycline which after reading the instructions I've found is effective against Acne, Anthrax and syphilis, sounds like a one stop treatment for the army. Also effective against Bubonic plague if I run into any outbreaks. I've even bought some travel insurance. Now for the real Africa, I'm heading to Western Sahara tonight as there were no day time buses but at least I'm booked with CTM.