Being in Morocco isn’t hard. Getting to it isn’t either. I (Sander) flew into Morocco from Eindhoven to Fez for under 30 euro. Renate made her way via Spain (Malaga and Melilla), where we met up. Melilla is a shoppers’ paradise, with tax free shopping and corresponding prices. Finding decent accommodation could pose a challenge, but in the end everything played out well. Melilla is a small Spanish enclave city perched on the edge of Morocco, separated by a 33 million euro fence. It’s the first entry into Europe from the African mainland, and because of that the border formalities are enforced more.
Getting back into Africa is a breeze, and local transport awaits you as soon as you walk across the border. We spent the night in Nador. A trading city, and the Moroccan twin city to Melilla. Though we did not see any other Western tourists, we did not feel unsafe. It’s a great place to spend a night and recharge a bit. We had a great pizza at Bella Italia, on the main street towards the bus station. If this is the standard for pizza in Morocco, we’ll have a ball! It’s good to have options for when you’re tajine-d out, or can’t have any more quadruple-carbohydrate meals (rice, potatoes, fries, bread).
From the Nador bus station we took a local bus to Berkane, the orange city. Home of the best oranges in the world. To be fair, the oranges are great, but the city isn’t all orange. Yes, the taxis are orange, and there’s a giant orange on the main roundabout. But, because Berkane is on the main road and close to Algeria, where fuel prices are really low, it has its fair share of traffic and low quality contraband fuel. There’s traffic round the clock, and the exhaust fumes (literally) take your breath away.
So, enter Tafoughalt, or so we thought. Getting there was not a problem. Just show up for a grand taxi, pay your fare for a place and it gets you there in under 30 minutes from Berkane. But when you’re there, there’s not much. There was supposed to be an auberge, but we could not find it. There are plenty of restaurants, and even a swimming pool, but no accommodation in town. They are building some, but that didn’t help us yet. So we asked around and read about a nearby Riad. We started walking, but since it was 5 km, we opted for hitchhiking. We were picked up within a minute, and taken to this riad. It looked really beautiful, but the owners were on holiday in France until March.
And that’s when Moroccan hospitality set in. Our driver owned some houses around the countryside and showed them to us. We ended up going back to Berkane, where he showed us his house and one of his apartments where we could sleep. We gracefully declined the invitation, since we did not want to spend another day in fumey (is that even a word?) Berkane. We wanted to stay in the mountains, or at the coast in Saïdia. In the end we drove all the way to Saïdia – and some more of course, and I’m now writing this from our own apartment in Saïdia. We’re about 1.5 km from the beach, and 2.5 from the city center with bars and restaurants. There’s clean air, lots of space and moreover, nothing to be heard.
Welcome to Morocco indeed!