Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody
Our second port of call was El Jadida. This is very different to Mohammedia, being a seaside resort as well as a fishing harbour. There was no response on the radio, so we just went in to find it packed with fishing boats, and great numbers of youngsters sailing and swimming in there. As a Moslem country, it was great to see that the conservative dress standards were maintained by the girls, but that it in no way was stopping them from fully participating in the sports.
Initially we were encouraged to raft up alongside the fire boat, but subsequently were advised to move out to anchor in the middle of the small harbour on the grounds of depth. Again, there was the need to participate in the lengthy entry documentation, but then we were free to walk into the lively town. What an experience. It appears that Morocco takes it’s summer holidays in August up to early September, and the streets were lively and bustling. A huge mix of street traders with impossibly high mounds of produce mixed with ‘fast food’ barrows, open fronted shops, market traders and cafes all mixed together around slow moving traffic, horns beeping and whistles blowing.
Walking around the next day revealed traders with high heaps of spices, adding a heady aroma to the heady atmosphere. You cannot come here and not be drawn into the glorious mix. The people were universally friendly and welcoming, all made easier by the common French language.
There is also an historic walled part of the city, built by the Portuguese. A beautiful mix of restored and crumbling buildings, the highlight of which is a mesmeric cistern. This is a wonderfully vaulted basement originally used for storing water. More recently used as a film set for Orson Welles in Othello, the sole light comes from a central circular aperture in the roof, creating a photographers dream in the reflections below.
It was therefore slightly disappointing that the bureaucracy crept back in to interfere with our plans. Advance warning from another crew alerted us to the less welcome aspects of our planned next stop, so we decided that we would make a long passage right down to Agadir. To do this, we wanted to leave at midnight. However, the harbour authorities having already charged us £20 for the privilege of anchoring in the harbour, insisted we had to leave by 6.00 pm (ie, 24 hours from our arrival), or face a further 24 hour charge. Ok, we thought, but just as we were about to leave, we were advised we needed to get our passports stamped again for exit. Rowing back to the dock again, only to find that the official with the stamp had gone out, and was not answering his phone. An hour later, all sorted, we were able to head out to sea.