Following the most incredible adventures in Chefchaouen, Morocco’s Blue City, and in Akchour, home to magical green pools and sparkling waterfalls, my wonderful local friend, Hind, is taking me to spend time at the beach in Oued Laou with her extended family. My travels are nearing their conclusion and some family time is exactly what I need to top off what has already been the trip of a lifetime. Plus, I’m incredibly excited to see the beach in Morocco! Obviously I knew Morocco was on the coast, but I just somehow never connected this to beaches.. Not one of my brighter moments, I know, but I was very pleasantly surprised by what I found.
All the details: Oued Laou
Getting there: Without a Moroccan family to chauffeur you around the country or a car of your own, the best way to reach Oued Laou is by bus. The journey is just over an hour from Chefchaoeun or two hours from Tetouan (both around 20Dh).
What to do: Once in Oued Laou, grab chairs and head to the beach! It may not be the Mediterranean scenery you’re used to, but it’s great fun to spend the day seaside, buying snacks from vendors and making local friends.
Top tips: In summer, head back out after dinner to watch the town come to life in the dark― children’s rides whirl noisily, market stalls sell all sorts of snacks, and cafes are open for midnight chats with friends.
After a fun-filled morning, Hind, her father, my friend Katy, and I pile into the car and drive an hour to join Hind’s mum, brothers, grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins for some of their beach holiday. Immediately, we are welcomed as part of the family. Hind’s uncle admits to us that he really wants to talk to us but knows hardly any English, though this doesn’t prevent him from trying every few minutes to ask us questions along with the aunties. It’s so sweet that everyone is making such an effort to include us, and any initial worries over awkwardness of intruding on a family holiday are immediately swept away.
Hind’s brothers, like her, speak good English and make conversation with us, but it’s certainly her young cousins, all around 10 years old, who steal the show. They are instantly enamoured of us and, after learning our names, are calling “Brooke, come swimming with me” and “Katy, push us in the raft” every two minutes. They even put on an impromptu water photoshoot after learning that my camera is waterproof, and the whole thing has the family in stitches. The boys are absolutely hilarious and so cute, and I usually don’t like children so that’s really saying something.
We spend what feels like hours playing very amusing rounds of (I’m sure this game has a name, but I truly don’t know― table tennis sans table?) with the boys and they find it endlessly entertaining to make fun of me as I flail around in a maxi skirt trying to hit the ping pong ball back to them. It’s well past sunset when we all leave the beach and walk back to the apartments, sadly saying goodbye to our sweet little friends who have made quite the impression on both of us.
When Katy, Hind, and I make it back to the family’s apartment, her mother has spread out an incredible feast of Moroccan foods she thinks we should try, and each thing is yummier than the last. Her mum doesn’t speak any English, but she is absolutely the sweetest woman and goes to such efforts to make sure we enjoy ourselves. Yesterday, I was asking Hind about traditional foods and she mentioned a spicy soup which I thought sounded nice, so she told her mum and she made it especially for us, along with about 10 other dishes and some of the best mint tea I’ve had in Morocco. Honestly, you could not find nicer people if you tried.
After our incredible dinner, we all shower and have a little rest before heading back out around 1130pm. Hind tells us that, during summer, people typically have an afternoon siesta to avoid the hottest part of the day and then come out after dark to eat and socialise when it’s cooler, which just makes all the online advice about never walking around Morocco at night seem quite silly. After witnessing the nighttime festivities for ourselves, it would be such a shame to miss out on this part of the experience! Whole families, including young children, are out enjoying ice cream at midnight, or even eating dinner, and the entire town is buzzing with colours and chatter far more vibrantly than during the daytime. We just walk around and soak it all in, before eventually sitting at an outdoor cafe to enjoy fruit juices as we watch all the Moroccan families on holiday pass by.
Tomorrow, Hind’s father will drive us to Tetouan where we will board an 8 hour bus to Fes to catch our flight back to Barcelona (and, in my case, then another flight to Geneva, Frankfurt, and Bangkok before finally arriving in Sydney and driving 90 minutes home in what is far and away the longest trip home in the history of international travel). I’m actually a bit heartbroken to be leaving Morocco! I always expected to have a wonderful time, but I just couldn’t have ever imagined how much I’d fall in love with this country and the people. Everyone we’ve met has gone above and beyond to ensure we have an exceptional time, and everyone has shared parts of their lives and been curious to understand ours. I said in my first post about Morocco that I kind of expected, from the only other Arab country I’ve ever visited, Egypt, to be uncomfortable a lot of the time and wary of everyone we met, but I can now say even more conclusively than I did when I first arrived here that I couldn’t have been more mistaken. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Morocco has the nicest people I’ve met in all my travels in over 35 countries. That’s a big call, but I’m confident in making it because the people here have been that amazing.
So thank you first and foremost to my incredible friend Hind, who took time out of her holiday to drive back to Chefchaouen so she could show us around her home, and then took us to some of her favourite places; thank you to her wonderful father, who drove us all around, took us to unbelievably delicious dinners, and refused to let us pay for anything, even our bus ticket to Tetouan; Hind’s beautiful mother, who welcomed us into her home and spent hours cooking for us; and all the rest of her family as well, who made such an effort to talk to us and include us on their holiday. And thank you to the riad staff in Fes, who walked us all around the city to help us find food at night, stayed up for hours chatting with us over mint tea, and took us to the taxis in the morning to help negotiate a fair price for our trip to Chefchouen. Likewise, the riad staff in Marrakech, who cooked for us when we were jetlagged and starving at midnight and drew us multiple intricate maps of the medina to help us find our way around (after I lost the first one). And the driver that took us from Merzouga to Fes, piled in the car with his family, who stopped constantly along the way, even though we didn’t pay for it, to show us beautiful places just because he was so excited that we were visiting. And then thank you to all the people we met and chatted with throughout the entire trip, who shared details of their lives and told us about their country, and who wanted to know about us. What a magical place full of warm people. I can’t wait to go back.