Chasing the goats [Morocco 2/7]

One of the main goals of our trip to Morocco was to see goats on the trees. They can be found in the province of Essaouira, where argan forests grow. Goats love argan fruits so much that they climb trees to get them. We had to see that!

This is still the stage of the tour when we are determined to take the bus. So we buy a bus ticket to Essaouira and go to the bus station. The Marrakech station provides us with an unforgettable perfume experience. Moroccans prefer to handle their needs by the bus rather than look for a toilet … The bus is another interesting experience. Before it leaves, a series of sellers of everything go through it, from water and snacks, through glasses and watches to plastic document covers. They lay offerred stuff on your laps, but don’t touch it with your hands unless you want to buy it! Finally the bus starts. During the ride, the central door is open, and when the bus passes slowly through the villages, the man at the door asks if anyone wants to go to Essaouira. An interesting way to get customers. It is also normal for the bus to stop several times during the drive, pick up beggars, strolling between the seats asking for money, then get off and the bus is moving on. After a 3.5 hour journey we reach Essaouira and we are going to meet our host. Will, a New Zealander, lives in the medina. He forgot that he promised to host us, but it’s not a problem – we will all fit. And so we land in o group of 7 people in a tiny room, on the most international Couchsurfing we have come to.

We leave our stuff and go sightseeing. The town may not be charming, but we came here for goats. We find out that they were likely to meet outside the city, on the road towards Marrakesh. We must have missed them when passing by bus.

 

Jak się odejdzie od głównej alejki...
When you get away from the main alley…

So we go to the taxi drivers, trying to figure out for how much they would get us out there. Unfortunately, despite a paper with a couple of questions in French (by Google Translate) we are not able to settle anything with them. To make matters worse, we still have a taste of local cuisine in our mouths – we wanted to try local specialties in a place where there are no tourists. We were offered a stew of chickpeas and… a cow’s ear. I tried this ear. Never do that. Really. Never. A little bit resigned we go back to the apartment. Maybe we will try hitchhiking? We have tomorrow all day. Moreover, Will adds that hitchhiking in Morocco works really well. The decision is made. Apart of our host, there is another New Zealander in the apartment, Swede, German girl, Brazilian guy and we – two Poles. In addition, neighbors from upstairs come by – Mexican girl and French guy, from downstairs – a Moroccan guy, and friends Will – American and Slovenian. We eat omelettes, tajine, salads, play games, talk; it’s great. Worse is the next morning – we both wake up with nasty digestive poisoning.

Despite the bad start of the day, we are not losing hope – goats are waiting. Firstly, however, we all go to the souk. In smaller towns souk is held once a week, it is like a city holiday.

A na zakupy można przyjść z małpą
Shoppin’, chillin’

We buy a lot of fruits, dates and cherry tomatoes at 0,20€ per kilogram (!). Together with Angela (German girl, who also sleeps at Will’s place) we are going to the road towards Marrakech to go out to look for goats together. On the way we pass what is on the map as Essaouira Forest. In fact, it is a very large, fenced green area where the first thing that comes to mind is the enormous amounts of trash. Walking along the fence, we meet there …

Problem?
Camels! Just like that, standing by the fence and looking at us.

Finally, we reach the roundabout. We put our thumbs up and… we catch our first ride in 5 minutes! Then we catch another as fast as the previous one. Unfortunately, the weather is not good for us. It gets cloudy, a little rainy, goats disappeared. Drivers say they will not go out in such weather. Besides, there are supposedly more of them along the road towards Agadir. Unfortunately, today fails is not the day.

A benefit of this day is the fact that we tested hitchhiking. It’s safe, rides are caught quickly even in a group of 3, the drivers are very nice and do not want the money (which I was very afraid of at first – I don’t like explaining in every car that hitchhiking is meant to be free, especially when we don’t find a common language with the driver). And since there aren’t too many buses to all the places we want to visit (or the connection with a bus would be very around), we already know how to travel across Morocco.

The plan assumed that the next day we would reach Ouarzazate. We don’t throw in the sponge with the goats, we didn’t came here with a bus harassed by beggars not to see them. In the morning we go to the road towards Agadir. Despite the small traffic, we quickly catch the first ride. And the next one and next, but still no goats. Morale in the team is falling, we start to accept the failure, until suddenly – they are there! We scream to the driver Please, stop now! STOP! STOP! A little surprised he stops and we are happy to sneak up to look closely.

Kozy na drzewach!
A half of the herd on a single tree. Barely visible black goats on a green tree, but THEY ARE THERE!

 

Rodzinne pogaduchy przy arganowym śniadanku
Family chit-chat by the argan breakfast

 

Dało się podejść tak blisko i się nie bały
So close! And the goats aren’t scared.

We have to admit, that the Internet didn’t lie. They really scream like in all these YouTube videos. They are hilarious, so we spend a lot of time there. We already know that today we won’t reach Ouarzazate. Such a distance in Poland would be feasible, but in Morocco hitchhiking is rather based on short-distance rides. Fortunately, the plan is flexible. It was worth it today to change it a little bit.

Our road from this part (N1 is more or less where we met the goats):


About the biggest threats for hitchhikers in Morocco and about growing sympathy for this country and its people you will read in the following post [click].