Friday, 27 December 2013

Day 58 - Safi to Essouria

We got up pretty early and successfully left at around 6.30. After getting some directions from a lorry driver we headed out of town. We cycled past a power plant when exiting the town. After this there were a few noticeable climbs early on - the biggest we had come across since getting into Morocco. Tom got a puncture pretty soon after a few climbs, which then turned into an excuse for a coffee and snack break. I think me may have then stopped fairly soon after for some more food before the big push to Essouria. The ride to Essouria was pretty hard with very little towns or settlements along the way, it was a lot of hillier and hotter as the road took us inland and the road surface wasn't the best. With probably about 30km to go we had some dogs running after us (thankfully they didn't get too close). Another 5 or 10km along we stopped at the bottom of a big climb for some much needed water and food. Chris pushed on. Anyway after the 5-10 minute break we pushed on slowly up the hill. We then got to a t-junction taking us onto a main road which was newly tarmacked and we turned right. There was a relatively strong cross wind as we were heading west. Thankfully this westerly road didn't last long and we were soon at the top of the hill overlooking Essouira. When I arrived Chris was chatting to a biker who very kindly offered us some water. We then rolled down the hill into the town. One of the first places we saw was a surf-style bar/restaurant selling meals and beer we of course decided to stay here. We were very pleased to see familiar food such as spaghetti bolognaise, pizzas and burgers on the menu. I went for bolognaise as did Tom. I can't remember what Chris and Mark got but it would have been something familiar and they got a beer with their meal. We had a chat about whether to stay here for the rest of the day or try to push on further (it was early afternoon and we could still have covered many more km's). I was strongly in favour of staying as it was really nice here and we could still get to Agadir tomorrow (which would mean we were sticking to the schedule) as this was around 185km away. Tom wanted to push on and I Chris wasn't all that fussed. I managed to persuade Tom and Chris to stay in Essouria for the rest of the day. After the meal we went to leave and got chatting an English family who were really friendly and interested in what we were doing. We explained that this was where we said goodbye to Mark and that we needed to find him a cheap hotel for 2-3 days. They pointed us the direction of a bar towards the old town who's owners would be able to advise us on the best places to stay. After our conversation we saw some guy doing camel rides on the beach and enquired about prices. He said 140 dirhams for all of us each getting a 15 min ride. Although tempted I stuck to the 'stay on budget' mentality refusing the camel ride and we headed towards the old town. We failed to find the bar we were referred to so just found a cafe. Me and Mark went to find Mark a room whilst Tom and Chris chilled out at the cafe with the stuff. I found an ATM and got a load of money out for me, Chris and Tom (the 80 Dirham per day original budget was well and truly out the window and we were getting low on cash). I told them to budget 200 dirhams per day from now on and stick to this as I didn't want to have to withdraw any more money out in Morocco. I withdrew the money and carried on with Mark into the old town. The first few places were far too expensive so we headed towards some cheaper looking hotel signs. We hen bumped into a guy who escorted us down an alley to a hotel. Mark went to look at the room and was happy. It was within his budget so he decided to stay here after insisting he had to chain his bike to something in one of the downstairs rooms rather than leave it unlocked in the hall. The guy who showed us the room asked for a tip and said he would show us around when we got back up to the main bit of the old town. Mark gave him some money we walked up to the main bit and he disappeared very quickly. We then went back to meet Tom and Chris. Chris had ordered more food. Chris and Mark went for a swim and I went to find a shop to buy food whilst Tom watched the stuff. I had to walk down a couple of roads before finding a shop next to a petrol station. They didn't have any chocolate, so I had to make do with bread, fruit and juice. I got six bits of bread (enough for some for now and some for breakfast). I went back to the others and they had finished their swim. Chris thought the water was cold but wanted to go back in again. Me and Tom weren't keen and Mark wasn't keen on going in again. Tom gave in and went in after 10 or 15 minutes with Chris. I had a food session at the cafe - the cafe had stopped serving food so the waiters didn't care about me eating. This must have been around 3.30-4.30. An hour or so later Mark went back to his hotel to have a shower and change before we would meet back at he surf bar for a drink later. We headed back to the bar shortly after and got some beers. The bar had a very nice outside seating area with sofas so my plan was to stay until closing and then sleep on these sofas overnight. Mark rejoined us about 30 mins later and I gave him a beer. They bar closed at around 6.30 - when we initially arrived it was just before this so we got our drinks in promptly upon arrival. Mark talked about his plan for the next few days which was to spend 3 days here and 3 days in Marrakech before his flight home. After a lengthy chill on the sofas we decided to try and find somewhere to get a meal as were still pretty hungry. There was a restaurant a few doors along still open so we went here. The owner was English and very friendly. I got a margarita pizza as this was the cheapest option and I was keeping a close eye on the budget. The wifi here was good so I had a Facebook session. The pizza was passable. We then had a lengthy chat with the owner about The Westrn Sahara and he told us that it wouldn't just be a sand dunes like we were expecting but also rocks and plants dotted about everywhere. He also told us about the camel gateway - we were really looking forward to this. He was happy to let us sleep on his sun loungers outside overnight which was a relief as the alternative would have been dragging all the stuff to the sandy beach and sleeping there. I made use of the restaurant toilet before getting the Blue Kazoo out and lying on one of the sun loungers. Chris and Tom needed to go to the supermarket to get food and water for the morning. Just before they left me and Chris were discussing sleeping arrangements and I let out what must have been the loudest most prolonged fart of the trip to date. About 10 seconds later we saw a man emerge from the darkness very close to us. It was the night watchmen. Thankfully he didn't seem bothered about the fart. Chris and Tom then left to stock up whilst I went to bed having got the double lounger. It was reasonably comfortable. It must have been around 11pm and I set my alarm for 5.30.

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