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November 28, 2004
In 1960, the city was razed to the ground by an earthquake, killing in excess of 15,000 inhabitants. The decision to rebuild the town as a tourist package centre was taken, and that is Agadir today. But it is a package resort with a difference, because it has attempted to retain a Moroccan feel to it, and certainly once you move away from the tourist centre, you’ll be in the local’s living area. They are, sadly, a major contrast to the hotels and restaurants, and standards of living are poor. Despite that contrast, we never felt threatened here but were subjected, outside of the tourist centre, to insistent offers of help.
We’d been told that the old fishing port was well worth a visit, as we’d be able to watch the boats coming in and unloading. As this was likely one of the only distinctive features of Agadir, we decide to "go for it". It was a pleasant walk along the front towards the site of the old Medina. This is a hill overlooking the port, called the "Ancienne Talborjt", where the majority of those killed in the earthquake have been buried.
Approaching the fish market, we had to cross derelict land and were "caught up" by a Moroccan who wanted to chat and was "going to see a cousin in the fish market." We tried everything we could to shake this man off, but he clung to us like a rash. He wanted to take us "to the best restaurant" in town and introduce us as "new English friends" to his family. We knew that, unless we were rude, we’d lose this one, so we resigned ourselves to the inevitable; he would try to persuade us to eat at the restaurant (presumably he got a commission), and then he’d want a tip.
We were first taken to see the new catch, and our "guide" insisted that I take photos of him, my wife, and a fish. The variety of fish was interesting, and I guess we wouldn’t have made it to here without his direction.
Then we were led to the "best restaurant". The stench was atrocious, and the restaurant no more than a row of trellis tables with plastic garden chairs. There were flies by the thousand (perhaps I exaggerate a little!). We were introduced to "the cousin" and encouraged to choose our meal. Eating here, however, would have been impossible, as the reek was making us green around our gills. We bid our thanks and tried to make a hasty retreat, but our guide was not to be frustrated; if we weren’t going to eat, then he required a tip. I grabbed the few loose coins from my pocket and shoved them in his hand -- he looked down his nose and said, "I need more". I moved to repossess the small tip, but he disappeared, muttering Moroccan as he went to find his next, hopefully more lucrative, victim.
From journal A package holiday in the package resort of Agadir
February 9, 2002
From journal Agadir: Morocco for Beginners