The beginning of February, the time of carnaval has arrived! Especially in the south of the Netherlands, this basically means a week of dressing up silly, partying and consuming outrageous amounts of alcohol. What better excuse for us to get out of the country for an awesome week of surfing and enjoying the Moroccan food and culture! While it was freezing cold in the Netherlands, we had a lovely 25 degrees at the beach in Thagazout, in the south of Morocco. Staying at surf thagazout, where hosts Karina and Robert took great care of us, we had a great week.
One thing is for sure: I can now fully understand why everyone is so stoked about surfing. The feeling of finally standing up and being pushed forward by the forces of nature is like nothing else. Totally worth the struggle of getting through the waves and waiting for the right waves to catch. The beginners started off on softtops, surfing whitewash. This creates good feeling for what a board does and how it reacts. Whitewash is also very easy to catch so you can get in a lot of practice runs. The only thing truly different from other boardsports is the pop up, the transition from lying to standing. This takes practice, but everyone got the hang of it after a week! Once you are standing, it feels similar to other boardsports. if you have the feeling for a board, it isn’t very hard to translate this to different boardsports so everyone progressed really quickly. Really being pushed forward by the more experienced ones helped a great deal too! After a few days, most of us even got a few unbroken waves!
Moroccan culture and lifestyle
While surfing is really enjoyable, it wasn’t the only thing we did this week. The Moroccan culture really got to me. It’s a laid-back kind of lifestyle, which fits surfers perfectly. It’s hard to describe their way of living. A bit more primitive to say the least. For most people, their daily job is to sell stuff on the streets. Everything from food and herbs to jewelry. There are dogs and cats on the streets everywhere. They don’t really have retirement, you just have to make sure you produce kids to take care of you. It made me realize how well we’ve got our shit together in Europe. There are so many things we take for granted. Drinkable tap water and food hygiene for instance. Most of the days we had dinner at one of two restaurants, where we knew they washed the food in bottle water. Or at least so they say, because most of us had at least a day or two of being really ill due to food poisoning. Apart from this, the food is really great. Especially the typical Moroccan food: tajine. This is a pot in which vegetables and meat are cooked for hours to make lovely stew, which is eaten directly out of the pot using bread. All the bargaining is a major difference as well. Even for your daily groceries you really have to talk and bargain to avoid paying too much. I bought some slippers so I was walking with my hiking shoes in hand, and everyone was offering me to trade and switch, because they just don’t have these kind of things in Morocco. This is evident in the prices: things like oranges and bread are dirt cheap, but pringles or oreo’s for example are really expensive.
Eating with Najib
The most impressive experience of the week was eating with Najib, his brother Faisal and their helper Zakaria. Najib is an acquaintance of the group and invited us to have dinner with him. He bought two chickens and all sorts of herbs and potatoes and made us a lovely tajine dinner. In return, we brought them a bottle of Whiskey, since alcohol is really hard to get in Morocco. In all of thagazout, no one has a license to sell it so they were really happy with it. With the 14 of us, we barely fit into their living room. It was smaller than the average student room! This made things really cozy. After dinner, we had a great time drinking, singing and making music, using water bottles as Tam Tams (Moroccan drums). A neighbor very kindly appeared out of nowhere to bring us a real tam tam. It even turned out to be Najib’s birthday, so of course we sang him Happy birthday. All in all, this was a really nice evening which gave us a glimpse of the Moroccan way of life. All in all, this week really opened my eyes to the different culture, as well as the awesomeness of surfing! I am really looking forward to going back next year!