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Notes from the home of the hitchhiker

Sahara's kiss

Camels waiting in the sand in Sahara of Morocco
It was a warm day and the sun was burning my shoulders when I was walking along the promenade after meeting with Hughes and Caroline. My head was buzzing. I have a lift, I have a lift! I was repeating. They told me that if I wanted to go with them, I had to wait for around two weeks and if I really needed to get to the Canaries there were new boats in the marina. I asked around, but the option of getting straight to Cape Verde really suited me, from there getting to Brazil should be easy. Two weeks! Nothing.

The same day I moved to Dagmara's, a Polish girl I met through Couchsurfing, as I didn't want to overuse the hospitality of Aziz family. Dagmara worked and lived in Agadir and was hosting quite many people. When I arrived I met Klaudia and Radek, a young married couple from Poland, who were crashing there for more than three months and visiting beautiful places around Morocco. So we were four Poles having heaps of fun together.

After a few days I decided to finally discover Sahara. I had only one and a half week, not much but enough to meet her for the first time. I found the first two lifts very quickly and ended up in Taroudant, from where I had many short lifts and by the afternoon I ended up in Taliouine. I was back to arid areas of Oued Sous, with argan trees dominating the landscape. From there I was picked up by Philippe and Anesta who were travelling with their two and half years old son Ruben in a Volkswagen Transporter changed into a camper van. They lived in Bordeaux, but Philippe was from Normandy and Anesta was of Indian origin, as her both parents moved to France from southern India before she was born. We were going higher up the peaks of Anti-Atlas and it was getting drier and drier, the argan trees started to disappear. It was like a landscape of a different planet with no vegetation and only small villages we were passing, reminded us we were on Earth. The sunset over the High Atlas was astonishing, but soon after I started to worry where I would sleep, as it was getting very windy and whirls of dust were crossing the road lit only by lights of the car. It looked unsafe to sleep in such conditions just in a bivy bag. When we were close to Ouarzazate Philippe and Anesta told me I could stay with them for the night, as the roof of their car could be changed into a tent.

We parked in a camping place in Aït Benhaddou, where a beautiful ksar was located, a fortified village used as a scenery of many films, i.e. in Gladiator. After half an hour we started to prepare dinner. I was chopping onions and thinking how amazing the situation was. It was pretty hard to hitch a camper in Europe, especially with children on board and these people not only picked me up, but offered a roof. Little Ruben started to like me straight away and he was fantastic French teacher, showing me different things and saying how it was called. I even read him one French children book, even though my pronunciation was not the best. We had great time that evening with nice food, red wine and a chat about our past, our present time and plans for the future. Deep connection straight away.

Woman in burka in the desert of Morocco
In the morning we went to discover the ksar, which was made of red clay mixed with straws. We were taking dozens of photos, it was such a picturesque place, no wonder there was a film studio nearby in Ouarzazate. Later, while enjoying a glass of mint tea, Philippe and Anesta offered me to go with them as we were heading in the same direction. They also said I could stay for another night if I wanted. Wow. We started to drive towards Mhamid to see the first little ergs of Sahara. We were passing dry mountains with little oasis in narrow valleys. Once we reached Oued Draa we entered massive oasis where date palms were cultivated and all the villages were made of red clay. After Zagora we were driving along flat hamada when a sand storm started. It was getting dark in the same time and it felt like we were entering hell. The first kiss of Sahara. Luckily we found an oasis to hide from the wind for the night.

The next day we decided to see the Dunes of Tifnou which were nearby and little Ruben had his first ride on a camel. He was so excited. After that we were going slowly back towards Zagora and Agdz, from where we turned into a local road going through a dry valley with a moon landscape. After we parked for another night, the full moon started to rise above the hills. It was a magic moment. I tried to imagine being actually on the moon seeing rising Earth and it wasn't too hard in that place.

After breakfast and a few more miles with that fantastic family, it was time to say goodbye. Little Ruben gave me a big hug and I could see he was sad. I was sad as well and I hoped I would see them all one day again. I stuck my thumb up again on a small junction in the middle of nowhere. Within an hour I had a lift with another camper van from France all the way to Tata. We passed desert hills, the last hills of Anti-Atlas and reached a plain, which was the beginning of the real Sahara. It looked more like savannah with dwarfish argan trees till the horizon, but without even one blade of grass. Half way between Foum Zguid and Tata we left the main road and entered a canyon with oasis inside. It was like a Saharan mini version of Colorado. Another breathtaking place in that hot and dry area. In Tata I stayed in a cheap and dirty hotel for just thirty dirhams. The city looked quite modern and I could sense some kind of laziness in there.

Finding a lift further west along the national road 12 wasn't easy the next day and it took me half a day to get to Akka, which was just sixty kilometres away. Hitchhiking in Sahara on the weekend! It sounded a bit mad. I liked it... In Akka, after a few hours with no lift, I went for a hotel again. I first thought I could try to sleep rough a few miles away from the town as there was no wind, but I changed my mind when I saw a big pack of half wild dogs approaching me. I realised, not the first time, it was a mistake to not take a tent.

Caravan in the Moroccan Sahara
In the morning I went to the town limits where a gendarmerie checkpoint was. When one of the cops was taking all my details another one found a car for me. Brilliant. So I had a lift straight to Tizgui, with a short stopover in a small village just to pack two alive goats in to the boot. Near Tizgui the road was basically dead. There was a car passing once in thirty or forty minutes and all I could hear in between was a buzz of flies and a rustle of the wind, sometimes with addition of the muezzin's call to prayers echoing in the desert. After a few hours of hitching with a book in my hand I finally found a lift all the way to Guelmim. Mohammed, a guy who picked me up, was from Tata and worked for an insurance company. In Fam El Hisn we stopped to pick up his friend, who invited us for lunch, a chicken tajine with probably the best fruit smoothie I tried so far. From Guelmim I had a lift to Sidi Ifni in a minute. As I was getting closer to the coast the landscape was changing with more and more opuntia growing on the slopes of the hills. It was getting dark when I arrived in Sidi Ifni and hitching further could be hard, but I wanted to get to Legzira Beach. I was about to meet with Klaudia, Radek and their friends who came from Poland, Huczo and Myszak. I was walking along the road in the darkness looking at the Milky Way above my head. Two kilometres before Legzira a white van stopped. I looked at the number plate really surprised. Poles! I greeted two guys sitting inside in Polish. They were surprised as well. Weird accumulation of Polishness.

In Legzira I was chilling out for two days admiring rock arches made of red conglomerate. Klaudia and other lads arrived one day later so we spent only one day together. When we came back to Agadir we went to a casino as Klaudia and Radek were taking part in poker tournaments. After three years of practising they finally started to win some serious money. We passed two more days full of fun and it was time to say goodbye. Radek wanted to finish university, so they all went back to Poland. I felt a bit sad again. That's a part of travelling as well, unfortunately. You meet people, have a good time together and then it's time to move again, either for you or for someone else.

I stayed in Agadir for another few days waiting for my first blue ocean experience. Every time I was sitting on the beach, I was looking south west at the line of the horizon. Somewhere there was my next destination, little islands of Cape Verde!