Douwe’s travel map of Morocco

While I was driving down the east coast of Spain I met Jordi. We met up a few times further down the coast, and he kept trying to convince me to travel Morocco together. To surf & explore this part of Africa.

A few months later we met up in Tarifa to take the boat to Tanger, the most northern city of Morocco. This trip resulted in a lot of memories. Wild camping on the coast and being terrorised with Arabic music all night by the local youth, surfing in beautiful locations, big wipeouts, seeing the UNESCO site Ait-Ben-Haddou, crossing the Atlas Mountains with my old van, and visiting Marrakech.

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What is (or are) your most memorable experience(s)?

Our first night wildcamping along the Moroccan coast was surely memorable. After 4 hour of driving it was getting dark, but we almost arrived at our destination; until my friend missed the exit. The Moroccan highway doesn’t have too many exits, so we had to drive another hour to get off. Finally we reached the city of Safi, but it was dark and we didn’t have a plan where to sleep. So after being unable to find a spot we parked on a road next to the ocean. Being a bit nervous we made up a code: 3 short honks means “come help me”,  1 long honk means “leave as soon as possible”.

At 1AM a car parks directly behind me, leaving their lights on and starts playing very loud Arabic music. 5 minutes after they decide to honk, one time, really long. I immediately message my friend “it’s not me, it’s them”. He tells me that he was already making himself ready to get behind the wheel. They didn’t stop the whole night. They left a few times but always came back, until about 4AM. In hindsight they probably didn’t want us to sleep in their hometown. Not the most romantic or beautiful story, but for sure the most memorable one.

A second memorable experience is having a flat tire after getting back from surfing. The bolt of my spare tire was completely rusted. Luckily a called my road assistance and help arrived 1.5 hours later. They came with 3 cars and in total 4 people. One driver, one translator, one guy to make photo’s for the insurance and luckily: a mechanic. But they didn’t bring any tools, so their solution was to just inflate my tire with my friends bicycle pump. If the tire was empty the next morning I would have to inflate it again and quickly drive to a tire shop 10 minutes down the road. Which it of course was.

What is the most beautiful place you visited during your travels?

This has to be a small surfing town called Imsouane. It isn’t that touristic (yet) compared to the surfing hotspot Taghazout. We camped at the local campground for a few days and made good friends, had great surf and ate fantastic food from the local restaurants.

What did you learn during your travels?

The main thing I learned is how tourism is affects places. It supports the local economy, which is a good thing, but it also changes a place completely. The stories I heard from people who visited the Moroccan town Taghazout 10 years ago didn’t compare to the place I encountered. The bars & restaurants facing the ocean were completely transformed to the needs of western tourists, parking in the city was nearly impossible because it was so busy (in winter) and half of the town was being renovated. It gave me me an internal conflict, because I am contributing actively to this phenomenon by travelling to these places.

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