We had heard that tourists could get Covid vaccinations in Morocco; a German couple messaged us to say they had got the Pfizer vaccine in the nearby town of Guelmim. We felt it might be wise to get ourselves a booster jab in case we were exposed to Covid when travelling back through Europe to the UK – there was still little evidence of the virus in Morocco outside the cities.
We stopped at a camp site five miles outside Guelmim and explained to the owner, Salah, about our booster jabs. He made a couple of phone calls and then offered to drive us into town the following day. We were accompanied by a friend of Salah’s who would be our guide and interpreter. His name was Boujemaa but everyone called him Bushman. He was a nomad from a tribe in the south and worked as an environmental ecologist at a nature reserve. Bushman took us to the Provincial Department where we had our passport details entered on their vaccination database and the next day we went to the nearby vaccination centre for the jab. Everything went smoothly and after a wait of around 40 minutes we were done. Bushman explained we would be able to download our vaccination certificate the following day. He also offered a hundred camels for any one of our daughters!
Salah’s family had chickens, ducks, guinea fowl and rabbits as well as a couple of cats and a young German Shepherd dog. One morning he brought us some eggs which he described as baladi eggs. We had never heard of such a thing but Mr Google informed us that in Arabic countries baladí chickens were considered far superior to the western (Roma) chickens and were more tasty and nutritious. We couldn’t really detect a difference but they were very good.
It was interesting travelling into Guelmim in Salah’s old Mercedes. He chatted animatedly to Bushman only pausing when interrupted by his phone, whilst skilfully dodging traffic and pedestrians coming from all directions. After our jabs we left Bushman in town and rushed back so Salah could collect his children from school (Hajar 8 and Suliman 5), offering a lift to his sister-in-law en route. Half a dozen of Hajar’s school friends came with her to the car and greeted Salah with a kiss on the cheek. I asked him if he was their uncle but no, they were friends of Hajar’s. The little girls weren’t called over to make the greeting, it was such a warm and uncontrived gesture that made us realise how close knit the community was. Hajar and Suliman happily squashed in with sister-in-law and me in the back – no car seats required! The children were not the least bit shy, Hajar was soon happily playing a game on my phone whilst Suliman was fiddling with my watch and almost sent a WhatsApp to our German friends!