Salam wa aleikum!
In January, the St Andrews Surf Club organised a surfing trip to Morocco. Along with 16 other keen surfers, we met at Gatwick and set off on our adventure to the northern coast of Africa.
My first impression of Africa was the breathtaking scenery from the window of the aeroplane, a landscape of mountains and dry field with palm trees. We stayed in a surf camp called Surfberbere, located in the small town of Taghazout. It was a five floor building on the seashore with majestic views of the sea, beach and far away mountains. We dined on the rooftop.
When it wasn’t raining, we sat under the open sky, whilst turtles (the surf camp’s pets) walked on the tables and begged for some chopped tomatoes. But when it rained, we gathered in a cosy and colourful marquee with sofas and knee high tables. A group of students from Bangor University also stayed in the surf camp at the same time as us. By the end of the week, we became good friends with them and with the people who run the camp; they taught us some Berber language (a dialect of Arabic).
There was no time to waste. The very first day we arrived, despite flying at 7:30 in the morning and craving sleep, we took our surfboards, put on wetsuits and went surfing to the Panorama beach. Walking through the town, made up of warm pink buildings, we carried our heavy surfboards along the ground road to the long, crowded beach. A little boy was wondering up and down the shore, leading a camel. Once I was in the water, all of this disappeared: there was only surfing.
After a week of surfing and taking surf lessons, taught by the cheerful local instructors, everyone had become much better in their techniques. Beginners learned to pop up quickly and catch the green waves, intermediates learned how to turn, whilst the advanced surfers disappeared off into the Killer. There were three main surf spots: Panorama, Crocodile and Killer, where people surfed depending on their ability and on the weather. Unfortunately, not every day had great weather, so there were not always good surfing waves. One morning was exceptional: pouring rain and a stormy ocean. Keen surfers that we are, we put on our wetsuits and braced ourselves for the rain and mud. After a while, the rain stopped and it turned into a decent surfing session.
The weather in Morocco was extremely changeable; it could suddenly change from hot to cold and back again in no more than five minutes. But overall, it was relatively warm, at about 20°C.
Apart from surfing and chilling out on the beach, we got to explore the local area with its souvenir shops and cafes. From time to time, the police closed the main street of Taghazout to allow the Moroccan King, Mohammed VI, to ride through the town to get to his villa. We were told that it is forbidden to take photos of him.
There was an opportunity to visit a Bazaar and a Paradise Valley, from which everyone returned with lots of photos and souvenirs. Bargaining in the busy market, communicating with locals, who were trying to trade English girls for camels, and hiking in North-African Mountains were all part of the experience. We swam in fast, cold mountain rivers and sunbathed amongst date palms and cactuses.
There was an exciting moment when four other students and I dropped behind and got lost in the Paradise Valley. It would have been a typical beginning for a Hollywood horror story, if the guide had not come back and found us before we wondered off too far, following the branching path through the jungle.
Some of us tried horse and camel riding on the beach, and took photos holding a surfboard, whilst astride the camel. In the evening, there was a chance to have a massage or do yoga on the beach, whilst enjoying the colourful view of the sunset. Yoga and massages help relieve the muscular pain after an intense day of surfing. As for local dishes, we got to try famous Moroccan couscous and mint tea, which is poured from silvery teapots held high above the tea glasses.
Cheerful people, fun moments and good surf are what made the trip so enjoyable. We arrived back at the Moroccan airport, from which we had left a week earlier, full of expectations for the trip ahead. Were they fulfilled? Yes. “Do you think we’ll come back again?” I asked. “Definitely”, replied one fellow surfer. As we arrived back in England, the cool British air enveloped the group of surfers, who were still dressed in board shorts and flip-flops.
Check out our surf camp, Surf Berbere at: www.surfberbere.com
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