Despite the disappointing experience in Casablanca, our faith in Morocco was quickly restored as we hitchhiked a 467km (290mi) journey down to Agadir. The area, in the southern coast of Morocco touching the Atlantic, is full of sandy beaches and winds perfect for the thrill-seekers. And with the abundance of surfers, comes an abundance of chill.
We experienced unbelievable generosity from locals as we traveled south. With a subpar public transit system in rural Morocco, hitchhiking is quite a common occurrence, with many locals hitching rides on a daily basis. As curious-looking tourists, it was even easier, and it rarely took more than 10 minutes to get a ride on the busier highways. A driver would stop when there was beautiful desert scenery and let us take pictures. One driver even insisted on giving us money, and invited us to his home. Although we didn’t share a common language, we tried our best with basic broken French, hand gestures, and even spoke through the language of American pop music.
We got a taste of the real Moroccan hospitality — which we later learned was a reflection of the traditional religious lifestyle. Islam strongly emphasizes honoring visitors and guests, and showing generosity and kindness to those under your roof. Local Moroccans are proud of their beautiful country and culture, and want the visitors to witness the best parts.
In the two months we ended up staying in Morocco, I can say it’s very safe. Doing something as “reckless” as hitchhiking, we encountered nothing but friendly commuters, just going to-and-fro work and completing their daily routines. According to a Swiss woman we met in the desert who has lived between Morocco and Europe for over 20 years, it’s quite possibly the safest country in the African continent.
The only strange experience we had was while hitchhiking in the small villages between Agadir and Essaouira. We were on an empty road at mid-day, with barely any traffic, so we hopped on a bus that miraculously appeared. The onboard ticketer wanted to charge us 100dh($10), a ridiculous spiked price for a rusty old local bus. With no common language, we tried to explain we’d rather get off the bus than pay that price. Instead, we offered to pay (5dh/$5) for the both of us. The man at first seemed aggressive, didn’t relent on the price, yet wasn’t letting us off the bus. He started saying he would take the $5 if it included my earrings, my hat, or my iPhone. We went back and forth like this for a while, no one relenting and him continuously speaking Arabic to a fellow passenger. Eventually, he started smiling and gave us bus tickets for $5. We suddenly realized maybe it was all a joke. Perhaps he wanted to have a little fun messing with clueless tourists…We deserve it for not brushing up on our Arabic or French.
Strange incidents aside, we always found our way to our destination including time to eat our prepared snack at a quiet rest stop with a nice view of the red-stoned desert.
From Agadir we took a scenic local bus, swerving by the ocean, to arrive in Tamraght. There we would spend the next four weeks learning to surf and play intense Moroccan-spiced Uno card games with people from all over the world.