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Stage 25 - Trampled by Turtles

Up early to find the morning windy and foggy in the Medina; I wondered how bad it was going to be out on the road for what I suspected would be a long day. I think I slept all right, but admit to feeling flat from the get-go. However, my appetite certainly seemed ok as I managed to scarf down about double my usual intake.

* photo courtesy Libby McMullen

A little bit of chaos in the hotel lobby; porters with hand-carts hired to ferry everyone’s daily and permanent bags to the trucks, waiting outside the Medina walls. All successful in the end. We set off in some fog or sea mist and a bit of wind, the town still fairly quiet outside the Medina. Rush hour essentially non-existent in Essaouria it seems. Once we’d turned north, the sun came out, along with a head wind which prevailed more or less all day. But as it was a cooling wind off the water, overall it was better to have that over what was actually a very warm day.

The major change for the day was a change of route; instead of heading back into the desert for a little before arcing back toward Casablanca, we’re to go straight up the coast. The upside is no dirt / gravel (or at least very little) and no heat (37-40° being reported at our Plan A bush camp for that evening). The downside is a relatively busy road, non-existent shoulder and headwinds of course. Ah, and lots of hills … continuous rolling ups and downs, never ending to my mind. Some wonderful views of the Atlantic, though, and long empty beaches.

The day turned into a bit of a slog; I knew I was flat to start with and the hills and winds just sapped any enthusiasm I might have been able to generate. The landscape not particularly inspiring either; coastal scrub brush of wind-swept juniper(?) and lots and lots of stone walls. The fields here are prolific with stones.

I have to say that my day’s highlight was rescuing a turtle from the highway, a little before the lunch stop. Coincidentally, by the time I eventually got to the lunch van, they’d just had a turtle pass through camp. Even stranger, the next bit of random music put on by Micah was a piece by the American folk band, Trampled By Turtles. So there you go…

Eventually caught up to Brad as we entered Safi, very much an industrial centre; the stink of phosphates permeating much of the air. Safi was known as being the centre for the colourful pottery found all over Morocco, but I gather now that the plants are closed. We passed through several kilometres of decrepit factories before climbing a slight rise and finding out hotel. That was another change to the program; instead of our last bush camp, TDA sprung for a fancy hotel, and dinner.

Brad and I got to our shared room, said to each other, ‘whew’ followed by ‘you want to shower first?’ to each other. Both of us then laid back on the bed and immediately nodded off for the better part of an hour. It had been a tough day.

Finally roused and had a shower, headed downstairs to have a beer and a very large bottle of water. Dinner would be not ‘till 7:00 at some nearby restaurant. This turned out to be about 15 minutes walk through a very much nicer part of town then the industrial section through which we’d entered. The restaurant had been commandeered to some extent by Chef Mark. A short wait, but not so bad … out came 4 types of tagine for each table; whole fish, chicken, a seafood/shellfish medley, and vegetables. Far and away the best tagine of Morocco, many of us concluded. This all served on ‘Safi-type’ pottery just that afternoon out of the restaurant’s kiln. So it was a great end to my low-energy day.

Walked back up the hill to hotel … asleep straight after falling onto the bed.

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