I wake. The truck is still and it’s quiet outside. Yey! No buffeting, sandblasting wind and the constant roaring which had become a familiar sound, has ceased. It is peaceful and all I hear is the meditative, gently soothing sound of waves .
Today it is calm. The serenity is a sweet balm. The Atlantic ocean is pure aqua, contrasting beautifully with dazzling white foam on the waves which break, just off shore. Parked down the back of a campground, we are on the edge of the small coastal town of El Ouata, twenty kilometres from Tan Tan on the coast of Western Sahara in Morocco.
After breakfast, we venture the short walk of less than a kilometre into the town. Wandering along the small street, there are a few women in bright colored Malaffa’s (6 metres of fabric which they wrap themselves in) going about their business, a few tourists, some children and the usual, zillion men.
Mostly all the business are run by men. In all the towns, there are always so many of them, everywhere…… in droves. Large groups of men sit out in front of the cafes on chairs, chatting and I guess, solving the worlds problems (ha ha ha) and observing the street life.
Most of them are old, or appear to be old and wear the Moroccan style of dark coloured Jellabba with a pointed hood. They smoke cigarettes and skillfully pour their sweet tea, from small ornate silver teapots. Holding them up at a great height, a thin stream of dark amber liquid shoots down into the small glasses, without spilling a drop.
Tiny shops sit side by side in a row on either side of the main street. Other transient ‘shops’ are set up on the side of the road and they sell all kinds of bits, like pens, hair ties, pencil sharpeners, lighters, shampoo, sticky tape, batteries, pliers, shower mitts, key rings boxes of dates and fresh fruit.
Some of the tiny shops are cafes where you can sit and eat a whole fish with homemade tomato, onion, garlic with a touch of chilli sauce, a small saucer of curried lentils and bread to dip. All of the shop fronts are just an open space with a large roller door which they pull down at night.
Inside, the walls are floor to ceiling, wooden shelves, which are packed solid with hundreds of products. You can buy many varieties of green tea, canned peas, toiletries, laughing cow cheeses to Fig jams, washing powder, a dozen varieties of Moroccan and Spanish sardines, haircolour, motorbike parts, pots and pans, plastic ware and bottles of Moroccan olive oil.
The lean on some of those very high shelves is extremely precarious and it looks to me like the whole lot could come down in the blink of an eye.
Every available space on the floor is filled with sacks of rice, stacked boxes of goods, flour, open drums of dried beans, chick peas and herbs. There are nuts, sugar, figs, eggs, vegetables and loose dates with lots of black flies crawling over them, attracted to the sticky sweetness. (An excellent reason to buy the whole box of dates.)
Loud Moroccan music bellows out from one of the stores. Drums and exotic instruments mingle with the irrepressible wailing of a traditional Moroccan singer.
I buy a four kilogram box of sweet, sticky, dark brown dates. Cheap at 50 dirham ($6). At least three hundred of those juicy morsels in there and NO flies! I also purchase some fresh round ‘hobbs’. The round bread is still warm from the oven.
At the patisserie, we stock up on huge delicious macaroons. I bite and in one exquisite moment, the wind and dust are forgotten. Oh my, oh my…the Macaroons are crunchy on the outside and heavenly soft, sweet coconut inside.
Mouth watering aromas of cooked fish, baked bread, targine vegetables, boiling soups and roasted mutton permeate the air…..
Ah Moroccan food. It’s worth coming here just to taste it.
- Rensina Van den Heuvel is passionate about travel and in particular going overland in her truck. She leads regular trips to Mongolia and Morocco MORE
- Trips for women to Morocco