A few months ago, my girlfriend and I traveled for the first time to Essaouira, Morocco. After a few days spent there enjoying the beach and visiting the city, we decided to rent a motorbike to go around. The sun was shining, the road was deserted.
We drove through the argan trees plantation, we stopped on the way to look at the landscape, the camels, and the goats. A perfect holiday day! A couple of hours later, we saw on the side of the road a wooden road sign saying “beach, 12 km”, and indicating a dirt road.
Excited by the adventure, we turned and followed the road.
Heading For A New Adventure!
The road was bumpy, dusty and full of stones. Driving the motorbike was getting demanding but the landscapes were amazing. Small villages, rivers and we had the opportunity to discover a part of Morocco unknown to most tourists.
After an hour, I didn’t manage to avoid to ride on a stone. I avoided the fall, but my foot was injured.
Finally, after another 30 minutes riding, thirsty, dirty and with a foot bleeding, we arrive at the end of the road. We were now facing the Atlantic Ocean. The sun was high in the sky, downhill the beach was deserted and the big waves of the ocean were breaking noisily. Kind of picture perfect.
A very steep road going downhill to the beach, where a few houses were near some fishermen boats. Impossible to go down with the two of us on the motorbike.
We had to make a choice. Should we go back to the main road and find a place to eat before going back to Essaouira? Or should we continue downhill and hope that one of the houses on the beach was a café?
We decided to push our luck and went downhill. Being that I was the only one that could drive, I drove the bike downhill, trying not to fall, and my girlfriend walked down.
After some cold sweats, we managed to reach the beach and the houses.
By chance one of them had the word café written on it. We came in. The house was quite basic, two tables, four seats facing the beach, and a barbecue in a corner. In another corner, a cat with her kittens seemed to be the only occupants. We were disappointed, we would now have to ride back and wouldn’t be able to eat or drink anything for a few more hours.
Tired by the drive, we decided to stay a bit to relax before going back. After a little while we were playing with the kittens when a man appeared.
The Encounter that Changed the Day
His name was Husain and we started to talk. When we asked him if it was possible to eat something, he told us the café was closed today. It was a bank holiday; the fishermen didn’t go fishing and there’s nothing to cook.
We then asked Hussain if by any chance a hidden restaurant was nearby, or an easier way to reach the main road.
He explained that his café was the only here and that there was no other option to reach the next big village than to go back to the main road, and then very spontaneously he said: “ but if you want, you could come to my house for lunch”.
Surprised by this gesture, we accepted and Hussain called his wife to let her know about our arrival. He offered us mint tea before we went back to his house. Altogether, we took the direction of Hussain’s house, located in a village a 20 min by walk from the beach.
A dozen houses very close together made the village. Our arrival was not discreet: dogs barking and kids screaming drew the attention of the rest of the village and we saw more and more people taking a look outside of their houses.
We arrived at Hussain’s house and he introduced his wife and his 3 kids.
The house was quite simple and welcoming. Hussain offered us to sit in the living room, on of the 3 benches disposed in U. On the wall, some paintings done by the kids. The same kind of drawing that all the kids around the world do. A house, the sun, some flowers and some smiling people 🙂
Hospitality in Morocco with A Surprise
Before eating, our host brought a bowl and poured some water to allow us to wash our hands. The lunch started with some bread and olives, in the kitchen his wife was finishing to prepare the main course.
She then came into the living room, bringing in her hands an old tajine pot. We were bit a stressed. Worried about being nice with our host, but afraid about the spicy or unusual food.
The moment of truth arrived: Hussain took off the hat of the tajine pot. Inside, there was some tagine mutton and… french fries! We were bowled over!
By having a lunch with a Moroccan family in the small village, far from any touristic area, I really didn’t expect to have french fries for lunch. We asked Hussain if his wife cooked that for us. A bit surprised by our question, he explained that the kids and him love that, so his wife cooked some from time to time. Sitting together, we ate our french fries. Laughing with my girlfriend about the clichéd ideas that we had.In the middle of nowhere during our adventure in Morocco, we were surprised by what the local hospitality had to offer. Click To Tweet
For the dessert we shared some juicy pomegranate. We talked a bit, played with kids, then it was time for us to leave this small village and go back to Essaouira.
I heard a lot of stories about my traveling friends sharing lunch with local people, praising the taste of some exotic meals. I didn’t eat anything unusual, but I learned that some things are universal, as kids drawing or the french fries!
Maxime Quantin a 30 years old Frenchman living currently in Ireland. Traveling is a real passion, and he has the opportunity to live in Indonesia, Sweden, Germany and of course France. It’s in Asia that he prefers to travel. He is always amazed by the different cultures, and loves to talk about tradition with local people. The question of the impact of tourism is also something fascinates him. A year ago, he launched My Travel Moment, a collaborative blog where he gathers inspiring travel stories from people from around the World. You can find him