It was quite a culture shock arriving in Agadir – a seaside resort that had been destroyed by an earthquake in the 1960s, killing thousands. It was as if we were in a different country from the traditional Morocco we were accustomed to. Everything appeared very modern and European. Christmas was certainly being celebrated around the town with Christmas trees, tinsel and inflated plastic Santas.
The camp site was conveniently situated a short walk from the fishing port, adjacent to a wide sandy beach and promenade lined with shops, cafés and restaurants.
As a rule, municipal camp sites, overseen by a guardian, were less salubrious than a family run site. The municipal site at Agadir had the worst of reputations – it was dreary and dirty with badly maintained facilities and poor security. Whenever we visited Agadir we were one of only a few brave souls staying there.
Imagine our surprise when we arrived and found fifty or so camper vans, mostly French but some German, Dutch and even one couple from Korea (we were the only British). Many campers looked as if they were settled in for the winter. Their vans were adorned with Christmas decorations. Pot plants, low fences or windbreaks marked the boundary of their territories and kept their barky little dogs confined. There was even a poster from a nearby hotel advertising a Christmas dinner menu.
We assumed that the powers that be had realised that, if they carried out basic maintenance and cleaned up the site, they could attract European customers bringing in much needed revenue.
For our part, we almost liked it better when it was sad and ill kept – our little secret. We stayed just long enough to stock up at the nearest seller of alcohol and to eat a meal that wasn’t tagine or couscous, before we headed south again.