Grand Africa cruise – Agadir narrative

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on

20 October 2022. Agadir, Morocco

Up at 6:30 am to get ready for an early tour today.  A few minutes later it sounded like the ship must be docking.  Until 7:10. Then quiet.  Nice surprise is that we are docked, instead of needing to use a tender boat to shore.
Found my lost room key card in today’s pants pocket.  Now I have a spare.

Cruise & Travel Director Jeremy announced that the ship needs to clear both health and immigration.
I rushed to the Lido to get Muesli & fruit, Orange Juice, and Coffee.  While eating, the Captain announced that everyone who goes ashore will have to test negative this morning for Covid-19.  And bring your passport onshore.

Downstairs, Bo was handing out Covid tests.  I am negative and photographed the results.
Leaving the ship, an officer kept my negative test.  Officers, including the Captain welcomed us ashore to the African continent.  Had my photo taken by a ship’s photographer on this historic day.  Chatted briefly with Jim Smith, a good friend from ms Maasdam.  He now uses a walker with a handy seat.  Jim encouraged me to keep walking to find the shuttle bus, which was to take us to the port entrance.  Private tours are supposed to meet their guides there.

Cruise Critic Mary Anne’s instructions were to meet Brahim at the terminal gate at 8:30 for our bargain $20 three-hour private tour.  Van #3 for me.
Soon I spotted Mary Anne’s name on several vans with an Across Africa Tours man.  Wonderful !  But there were no numbers on any of the vans.  I did find Brahim.  He eventually had me fill the last seat in one of the vans.  Great seat, great view.

The “City of Agadir” tour started out months ago with a limit of 10 people in a 15-person van, because of the spread of Covid.  Then we were limited to 16 in a 19-person van.  Today I was #17 in the van + Guide Azira + driver.  I did not feel like walking away, but I did wear my mask.  It was 8:45am.  Not bad. 

“Upon pickup at the port at 8:30am we’ll drive up the hill to Agadir Ou-Fellah (Agadir hilltop), the city’s 16th century Saadian Kasbah (Fortress that was built 1572) which offers a complete panoramic view of the whole city and the fishing port.  See the inscription “Fear God and Honor the King” right above the entrance of the Kasbah and remember to take a photo.  Stay 30 min.”

Azira told us about Agadir as we drove up the hill.  Spotted street dogs and friendly cats here and there.  We saw the views, but did not approach the Kasbah.  Several salesmen approached me with trinkets to sell, but I said NO.  Did put $1 in my pocket to maybe buy something later.  Ignored the snake handlers.  The picturesque camels caught my attention, and the handler even smiled for my photo.  Then he put out his hand, and I gave him the dollar.  He asked for two, but I insisted on one.  Driving down the hill was slow, because of a tour bus traffic jam.  One large van had broken down, and a police car had arrived.  Eventually we escaped.

“Stop at Agadir Argan Oil house, where you will get information about a very rare oil. See how the Berber women produce what is known in Europe as a Golden Liquid. Learn how they gather and dry the nuts, roast and grind the kernels, and finally extract the pure oil.  This is truly a 100% Moroccan experience that should not be missed.  Stay 45 min.”
This bathroom stop was an interesting shopping opportunity.

“Pass by Mohammed V Mosque, St. Ann’s Church, the Beth El Synagogue.  Stay 15 min
We stopped at the Mosque and took photos.  Azira told me that non-Muslims were not allowed inside.  Said it was very plain, not like a church.  He let us smell the essence of sour oranges, which are made into marmalade.  This is Spanish Andalusian heritage (Seville oranges make marmalade) in the far south of Morocco.  The “ Ola ! “ gas station also made me think of Spain.

“Stop at ‘Souk El Hed’ the largest market in the region.  You will be given an hour of free time.  .  .   1 hour “
Our van could not find a parking place, so we hiked over to the market.  Almost wished that I had brought my hiking stick today.  Maybe 80 degrees.  Long hike.  Policeman stopped traffic for us and said, “Welcome.”  Inside the souk, we walked through the displays of fruit, vegetables, housewares including the local ceramic tajines used for cooking, teapots like mine on the fireplace insert, fabrics, clothing, and finally souvenirs.  Azira was going to give us 30 minutes to shop at 11:10am, but two ladies started winging about not wanting to miss the ship sailing away.  I asked for 5 minutes to shop, but they were adamant and Azira led us out to the van.  
People here responded well to “Good Morning” and several said “Welcome.”  One young father encouraged the toddler son on his lap to wave at the unusual tourists.  Three teen boys posed for my photo, and I called them the men of Agadir.  Azira reminded us that Morocco had been friends with the USA since 1787.
I gave Azira a brochure of Port Angeles when handing tips to him and the driver.  We returned to the ship at noon. Spotted the Food & Beverage Manager carrying a tray full of foil-wrapped hamburgers to someone in the port.

We showed passports to the local officials.  Showed key cards and photo ID at the base of the gangway.  And showed ship key card to Security onboard, plus everything went through X-ray.  Tight security.
Yesterday’s wine has not been returned to me, so I phoned the Front Office.  
Hot and tired, so enjoyed ice water in my wine glass.

Out in the hall, Room Steward Bo told me that he is headed home tomorrow to his wife and child – for a couple of months.  Happy for him, sad for me.  He says that Roy will work hard. Luckily I had enough money handy to give him a good tip.

Lunch in the Lido was sitting by a window to watch the sail away from Agadir.  (all aboard 12:30pm, sail away 1pm became a 1:35pm departure). My bowl of Asian food had noodles, stir fried veggies, beef, and sweet & sour pork.  Milk and bread pudding, then hot coffee to bring back to my room.
Lazy afternoon to journal, label photos, etc, etc. 

The Captain announced just before 5pm that we just might have to do Covid tests again tomorrow before going ashore in Casablanca.  Test kits will be delivered to rooms tonight, but wait for directions.  This morning’s testing did reveal a very few more cases, so Covid is still around.  Be careful.
Also a huge storm west of Ireland will cause three meter swells and a rough ride for us.

Good dinner tonight.  I ate the Coconut Crusted Shrimp, Beef Bourguignon, Carrot Cake, Beringer’s White Zinfandel, and deaf coffee.  Bill & Charlotte had a similar tour to mine, but they did not see the Argan Oil shop.  David & Jan’s port shuttle took them to the middle of nowhere, so they got back on and returned to the ship.

By now the ship was rocking and rolling.  Dangerous walking, so I decided not to go see the BBC Earth Presents: Planet Earth in Concert.  I returned to my room and will stay here – writing and sending an email and going to bed earlier, because tomorrow is special.
Tomorrow’s Daily Program was delivered with two chocolates and a Covid-19 test.

Quote of the Day:   “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
J. A. Shedd 

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