One More Seedy Port City, and the Road Home

Thursday, October 9, 2008 | Al Hoceima, Morocco (map)

Al Hoceima left something to be desired, but at least the earlier parts of our roadtrip were scenic.
After breaking camp on Saturday morning, Jacqueline and I drove to Al Hoceima (الحسيمة), the largest city along this stretch of the Moroccan coast. There we treated ourselves to a delicious breakfast of eggs, toast, and rich café au lait—all luxuries compared to our recent staples of stale bread and Vache Qui Rit—before exploring the beaches along the coast south of the city.

The guidebook again misled us with talk of "pristine, white sandy beaches" but the Cala Bonita beach just south of town was nice enough to warrant a visit. We lay on the beach, sunbathing and reading, while some local kids played in the waves. Several couples used the beach's seclusion as an opportunity to be more intimate than they could in town (i.e. by holding hands).

From another beach just down the coast, you can throw a stone onto one of several tiny islands still controlled by Spain. One of the islands, the Peñón de Alhucemas, is fortified, and serves as a
prison, something like a Spanish version of Alcatraz. It's among the numerous small enclaves—lasting vestiges of the colonial era—that Spain still maintains along the Moroccan coast.

Al Hoceima's campground was nowhere to be found (thanks for nothing once again, Lonely Planet), so Jacqueline and I checked into one of the many identically dingy pensions downtown. We spent that evening on the terrace of a much nicer hotel overlooking the town's main beach. We read a little, but mostly discussed life here in Morocco, its ups and downs, and our ever-changing plans for our time here.

* * *

Sunday we made the long drive back to Fes.

Jacqueline and I covered a lot of ground in these few days on the road, despite some unexpected detours and obstacles. While we may have allowed our hopes for parts of this trip to rise a bit too high, overall our Moroccan experience continues to meet expectations, and we have a lot more of this country still to explore.

See a map of our route here.

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