Leaving Sidi Ifini to find Plage Blanche (white beach) but first a bath in one of the bath houses called a haman. The Moroccans have to wash before visiting the mosque and so these places are usually found near one, we however only found one for us girls. You go in wearing only your knickers and get given a bucket, soft soap and a coarse black glove. There are two rooms, one hotter than the other, where you fill your bucket with hot water and proceed to remove a layer of skin, friends are their to do your back although the ladies were willing to help but are none to gentle and I was a little sunburnt, so Wendy kindly did mine. When it got to hot and stuffy we left and sat in the sun drinking freshly squeezed and sweetened orange juice, after the bath house it felt cool sitting in the sun. Then taking our very clean selves we set off on a piste to find what turned out to be the elusive beach.
We traveled most of the afternoon and settled by a river to have a barbecue; the boys had acquired a chicken while we were bathing. With the help of some local children we collected wood and then made Pap (maize meal) and had that with the chicken. It drizzled during this time and two local ladies told us we were in a flood plain and that we had to move. They did not speak English but were quite expressive in indicating how we would be washed away, so we decided to move. Then we discovered we were on clay and unable to get out of the river valley in the dark so we had to cross back over the river in the now increasing rain and camp on the other side (more rocky). Next morning we woke up still a bit wet from the previous night and eagerly set off only to get very stuck on the other side of the river. Much digging and stone laying later and we were getting nowhere, then a man appears who seems to have seen it all before and under his direction we get up to where we had camped originally. After that it was a doddle so had we not listened to the locals we would of been fine but then a local got us unstuck so who can say?
We camped early by the next river we found, obviously our earlier experience not affecting our judgment, and made another fire. Then we made pot bread and very successful it was too, although our method needs refining. Great morning turned into a dust storm and so with sand in everything we set off on the track, then we went off the track because we could see sand dunes where the beach should be. Oh you guessed this bit already, yes we did get stuck. Simon and I do a job very well and when we get stuck we bury Jenny. Good thing Bart was around to help, so our little stint on the beach did not prepare us at all for driving on dunes. After some scouting we found the track again and made our way to a fort on top of the hill by the entrance to the beach, sand storm no better so we stayed at the fort.
This fort looked like a earthquake had hit it but had one house standing in the middle of all this rubble, the man gave us permission to camp there. Then seeing how dirty we were, brought us water to wash our hands and feet then came the delicious and much appreciated round of tea. In the morning they brought us fresh fish and did not want anything for it, they even offered their house for us to sleep in. It was wonderful being on the receiving end of such hospitality. He advised us to go out by the shortest route as the rain had not stopped, so having come to the very edge of the beach we never really got there, kind of like Moses.
Going back was tough and small ditches had turned into fast flowing streams, which had to be crossed. Then we got stuck, so stuck that I had to climb out through the window as the mud was past the door. We have some good photos. Once again Bart and Wendy helped out; they were so good to have with us. Then it was Bart’s turn to get stuck which is only fair, although we think he only did it to make us feel better. Then the track turned into one soggy river bed and we made our own way, we could almost see the road when I buried Jenny’s back in a river, and so with the setting sun we dug our way out once again. Then Bart got stuck, it got dark and then we saw lights and heard a engine. Along comes a series three at some pace and drives right by on the track that was 100 meters away, we did not even see it. By this time Wendy had set up camp on the opposite bank and the kids were in bed, once we towed Bart out we made for the track and had no trouble getting across.
Friday and we are on the road, stopped in Guelmim for chicken and chips, fast food and good. Then being suckers for punishment we headed for Fort Bou Jerif on a piste road. The way was flooded with a fast flowing river going over the bridge and so we decided not to risk it even when locals in a series three made it across. So change of plan and off to Abeino where they have natural hot springs and we all went for a swim, we had much grime to get rid of.
Saturday market in Guelmim with fruit, veg and camels galore. Lots of second hand clothing to be bought so found Zoe a T-shirt. Then home and fruit salad for dinner, it was out of this world, no ice cream though. Sunday and after a walk through the oasis we pack to go to fort Bou Jerif. This time river crossing no problem and we get there without much event, Wendy and Bart stay in a nomad style tent and we camped by them. This place is popular with 4×4 enthusiasts, all of who seemed to turn up at 4pm having spent a day on piste. So minor French invasion but we survived, although I did not get to the showers in time to enjoy the first hot shower since reaching Morocco, Simon did not have this problem.
That night we had Camel Tajine and red wine and one week was over although it felt like many more.