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A saying for travellers goes; you never know what the place is like until you get there. And a similar saying goes for surfers; you never know how the waves are until you paddle out there.

Last month I rented an apartment in Taghazout with Andre whom I often surfed with in Senegal. We were actually kind of stuck in Taghazout for the whole February due mainly to the fact that we didn't have a car: my international driver's license was stolen in Lombok in April last year and Andre was not old enough, he was only nineteen, so neither of us could rent a car legally.
My surf in and around Taghazout this past February was nothing superb. Apparently, a super-storm called Hercules which devastated the coastline of Europe about two months ago completely changed the sandbank for Anchor Point. Thus, I often had better waves at Killer Point, La Source and Mystery than Anchor.

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Honestly speaking, I was not satisfied at all about the wave-quality in Taghazout and the town of Taghazout itself: it was like Kuta, Bali without loud Aussies. Therefore, as soon as Andre flew back to Germany, I took a coach bus in the early morning of February 27th to the north, to a city where very few tourist attractions are and many ugly chemical-producing factories are built up along the coast.

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There is only one surfable spot in this city, and I went there because a rumour amongst experienced surfers was echoing in my ears - this spot has world-class waves if it's on. "If it's on...."

And lucky me! It turned ON not only once but twice during my stay in this city.
The first one was last Saturday when the swell was 6 to 8ft with very light offshore winds. I was totally blown away by the waves I caught at this spot - clean, fast, hollow and powerful. It was such a quality wave that made my whinging mouth shut and kept me just grinning for the rest of the day :-)

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A very little interval after this first swell last Saturday, the second swell jetted in this Tuesday. And with no exaggeration, as all major surf-forecasts showed insane figures such as 12 to 15ft with 18 to 20sec periods, it turned out to be twice bigger than the first swell.

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The photos below only show the beginning of my session on this day: I stopped taking photos in a short while as some serious bombs started coming in with the pushing tide.

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I found the waves at this spot quite similar to those in Tofino, Mozambique - the bottom is rocks covered with a lot of sand, and a proper barrel is guaranteed as long as there is a huge swell with moderate or strong offshore winds blowing then.
During this session I saw a couple of guys making a real stand-up barrel and also a few nasty wipe-outs. I started to feel undergunned because my board was only 6ft long.... I unwisely underestimated what this spot was being reputed to be. It was indeed a world-class wave without a doubt and even having a semi-gun out there might not have been a bad choice at all to thunder through those intimidatingly big hollow waves.

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What a score in Morocco after anchoring myself way too long last month in Taghazout with shabby Anchor Point. I'm now happy enough to dry up my wetsuits and pack up my boards.

So, some of you might now be wondering where the hell this spot is, right?
Well, as much as I take great advantage of one of mankind's best inventions so-called the Internet while I'm on the road, I have a strong feeling against today's ease of finding everything in this cyberspace. Yes, you will soon find out where this spot is if you spend a few minutes online. But remember the saying for surfers? You'll never know how fast, hollow and powerful those waves are until you paddle out there.




スポンサーサイト

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My stay in Morocco turned out to be for two months in total. Here are some tips for other travelling surfers who may consider to visit and surf in Morocco in the future;
(Note: All prices mentioned below can be converted with EUR 1.00 = MAD 11.25 and USD 1.00 = MAD 8.25)


1. Money
I was surprised that most restaurants, cafes and shops all around Morocco didn't accept credit-card payment. Even a surf shop with brand-new surfboards over 300 Euros didn't take credit cards either.
Many banks offer relatively good exchanging-rates for major foreign currencies. Otherwise, ATMs can be found everywhere, but they quickly run out of money, especially over weekends. If you head off to a remote place for a while or if your payment to your hotel-owner is due on the weekend, make sure you have enough cash in Dirham - the local currency of Morocco.


2. Trains
Trains in Morocco are nothing like those rusty old ones in India. Moroccan trains are 100 times cleaner and better than them and are also punctual enough.
I travelled both in the 1st class and 2nd class and I didn't have any problems at all apart from getting a little hassle to find a space for my bulky board-bag (6'3ft long with somehow three quivers in it!)
Keep in mind that when it comes to boarding any public transport in Arabic countries, Arab people don't line up, don't wait and don't care who you are!


3. Buses
Morocco's bus network is quite thorough both domestically and internationally. There are two major companies - Supratour and CTM, both of which are somehow regarded as "public" in Morocco and run best quality buses. Whereas, private companies run quite shabby-looking buses.
The downside of taking these buses is that they charge you extra for your luggage. For instance, I paid 5 dirhams for my backpack and 15 dirhams for my board-bag for a Supratour bus from Marrakech to Agadir (the fare itself was 150 dirhams).


4. Other Means of Transport
Taxis are plentiful wherever you go in Morocco. You normally have to negotiate the fare before getting in unless your taxi has a functional meter on. Some places like Agadir, however, have fares set beforehand, so I couldn't haggle the price for a ride from Agadir to Taghazout. It was 150 dirhams for a 20-minute drive.
Renting a car for yourself and for your buddies is definitely the best way to move around and check all surfable spots in Morocco. Be very careful with police officers checking the speed limit on major roads. They position themselves outside every single city and town.


5. Accommodation
A strange thing in Morocco is that many hotels and hostels don't have any ads or signs outside. So if you've made a booking for the night, you should know how to get there in detail.
The below are 5 types of typical accommodation for travelling surfers in Morocco.

I. Hostel
There are quite a few hostels in big cities and most of them have hot-water showers, WiFi, and free breakfast. Make sure you stay in the right hostel though: the one in Marrakech I stayed in was only 80 dirhams per night, but I ended up getting badly bitten by bed-bugs (AGAIN!)
There are also a few hostels in Taghazout, but they all cost at least 150 dirhams per night for a dorm, which is way too expensive by Moroccan standards.

II. Riad
Riads are more or less equivalent to guesthouses and hotels. They are usually run by Moroccan families and are normally clean, safe and inexpensive.
Andre and I rented a whole top floor of a Riad in Taghazout for three weeks and we had a bathroom with a hot-water shower, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room with WiFi, and a balcony where we could check waves of Anchor Point and Hash Point 24/7. It was only 250 dirhams for two of us per night and definitely the best deal in town for sure.

III. Surf Camp
I never stayed in any surf-camps while in Morocco. First of all, I didn't want to. And second of all, they were all bloody expensive!
I actually walked in three camps in Taghazout just to see what they were like. And I think staying in a surf camp might be a good choice if you don't have a car and if you can afford it (at least 30 to 40 Euros for a dorm per night). It must be really fun to hang around with other surfers, most of whom only want to surf NSPs at a beach break.

IV. Camping
Camping is possible in Morocco (not in big cities, though.) I didn't do it, but I met a Japanese surfer who was camping around Taghazout.
You basically have to set your tent at a camp site which is usually located outside the town and it is often dominated by those luxurious camper-vans from Europe. Be well-prepared for sleeping because it can be freezing outside from dusk till dawn.

V. Sleep Wherever
If you have your own car, why don't you sleep inside the car just like what Kepa did? I saw other surfie dudes doing it, too. Do not worry. It's safe enough.
Otherwise, Moroccan people are generally very hospitable. So if you make tons of Moroccan friends, some of whom might offer you to crash at their places for a couple of nights.


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6. Food
My initial idea of typical Moroccan dining was cous-cous after cous-cous. But No! The reality is that they hardly eat it except on Friday. Many local people, especially those in the southern regions, are crazy about Tajin. They have it for lunch and dinner every day with bread. I liked it but got bored after a few days. Whether it was fish or meat or vegetables, all tajins tasted more or less the same to me in the end.
The below is a list to show you average prices for food in Morocco (All in dirhams):

- Bread: 1 ~ 2
- Mineral Water (1L): 5 ~ 7
- Soft Drink (500ml): 5 ~ 10
- Mint Tea: 8 ~ 10
- Coffee: 5 ~ 15
- Soup: 10 ~ 15
- Tajin: 20 ~ 40
- Sandwich: 15 ~ 30
- Burger: 20 ~ 40
- Pasta or Pizza: 30 ~ 60


7. Surf Culture
Despite the long history of surf-exploration in Morocco since the 70s, I didn't find local surf communities in Morocco big. Even the mecca of Morocco's surf scenes - Taghazout - seemed to have a very small number of local surfers with only a handful of surf shops in town.
It seems to me that most local guys are busy either tour-guiding rich Europeans or chasing blonds. You can find heaps of badly maintained or repaired surfboards in shops in Taghazout but very few brand-new boards. It was very unfortunate that I more often encountered super-pale European surfers than dark-skin Moroccan rippers in the water.


8. People & Localism
Amongst Japanese backpackers, Moroccan people are said to be one of the top 3 most annoying people in the world: the other two are Egyptians and Indians.
I personally found Moroccan people (adults) very friendly and very helpful. But I found kids - both boys and girls - really annoying. Not only because they always called me "Chino!", but also because they so often chuckled at me and walked away. On a couple of occasions I could not put up with what some kids did to me, so I seriously told them off (in English, of course!)
That was my story on land, but in the water it was all different. Despite the fact that some of my friends warned me about harsh attitudes by Moroccan locals towards visitors, I never experienced such a thing in the water. Honestly speaking, quite a few local guys stopped before paddling past me, asked me about my nationality and always said to me "Welcome!" as soon as they found out that I was from Japan. I don't know if their attitudes could be different towards Caucasian surfers.... I hope not.


9. Health Issues
One great thing about my stay in Morocco was that I got no mosquito bite, absolutely none during my whole stay! Nevertheless, I became sick at least twice in this country. The first one was a stomach-ache which lasted for a few days with many emergency landings to be made. The second one was very acute flu-like symptoms, it was nearly mistaken as Malaria in the beginning because it was that bad!
I have no idea if both were caused by the food I ate or the water around Morocco's coastline. In fact, what should be very alarming to all surfers in Morocco right now is not really a dodgy chicken sandwich or a rarely cooked hamburger sold by street vendors, it is the quality of sea-water as a report I saw about a month ago showed the toxic level of contaminated water with the high degrees of Mercury, Phosphorus and even Uranium.... I'm not joking. This information came from a reliable source.


10. Overview
Some people think that Morocco is Africa. Technically yes, because it's in the African continent. However, I personally don't call it Africa. My reason is not simply because of the absence of lions, giraffes and elephants. There is actually so much more Arabic influence than Afro influence on the people of Morocco. I'm not trying to judge which one is better than the other. This is just factual.
Having said that, I still genuinely enjoyed travelling and surfing in Morocco. And this country is one of the very few Arab nations in the world where we freely go surfing without having to worry about any terrorist attacks or kidnapings.


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Ever since I started travelling in 2010, I never carried more than two surfboards in my board-bag, but this March I somehow ended up carrying THREE from Morocco to Madrid (by land and sea) and then from Madrid to Panama City (by air and land).
Even carrying only one board can be a big hassle at times. Carrying three was a real nightmare, especially when one of them was my wooden 5'8 Egg which weighed about 7kg by itself. Don't ask me why I did it. I could not sell any of them and, perhaps, I just wanted to break my own personal record of luggage-dragging.

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And I did break my personal record this time with all the three intact! What was actually stunning during my journey with the three lovers from Fez in northern Morocco via Madrid to Panama City was that I was very very sick. I nearly fainted a few times on my way as I had my joints aching, a dry cough, chills and a fever: my fever reached over 39 twice, which made me seriously think that "Did I finally get Malaria? Am I gonna die soon?" - considering the fact that I was bitten many times by mosquito while in Senegal.
It didn't turn out to be Malaria in the end, but it was definitely something viral and acute enough to cause such a concern. I still feel not very well as of today.

!!!!! Note !!!!!
To Dr. Juan Manuel and the nurses at Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid;
Thank you so much for saving me. Although I could not get the results of my second blood-test, I'm very positive that it was not Malaria as Juan told me. Without your help I couldn't have continued my journey. My sincere gratitude to you all.


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Anyway, Panama City is blazing hot as ever and it's my second time to visit this super tropical country.
Apart from recovering from the illness, I had one important thing to do before heading off to remote places in Panama for surfing. It was to send my wooden Egg back home in Japan.
Honestly speaking, it wasn't easy to make this decision and shipping my cute chubby Egg back home was like breaking up with a girlfriend.... I did think about taking her with me all the way from Panama to Mexico, but it just didn't seem practical at all because my main focus in Central America this time is to go surfing all those major spots that I surfed in 2011, plus many more different and unknown spots. Needless to say, I'll be travelling by public transport or taxis, no flying nor car rental.

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It took me a few days to find a good reasonable courier in Panama City. The Panamanian Post didn't have any good reputations amongst local people. UPS and DHL were costing me more than USD800. However, FedEx was offering USD420 for the shipment of my board. A deal was made!

Now one burden is off my shoulders, I have no girlfriend to take care of and I've got nothing to lose. I'm only hoping that my Egg will land in Japan without any problems and that it will arrive home with very little tax on it from the greedy Japanese customs.

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I got this in my fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant the other day.
Yes, I will soon be crossing and surfing the great warm waters!






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