morocco rain floods 2014

There is a saying that goes something like this:
“In times of despair, one’s true identity will reveal itself”.
The following experience has shown me just that, right in the face, first hand and upfront.

As some of you know I recently traveled to Morocco.
Starting with the 1st week as a reboot and recharge holiday to relax and chill-out, I took a flight to Essaouira  where I enjoyed a couple of sunny days just wandering around.. you know.

Bare feet walk in the sand and sea, ah yes..“maxing – relaxing, it ain’t too taxing.. 😎 ”!

In the days before my travel I read in a magazine about some amazing arched rocks at the sea side in Morocco which are described as one of worlds most beautiful places.
So I figured why not go there!

After 2 days Essaouira I checked for an apartment in a small town near that sea treasure. I booked it (Airbnb rocks!) and continued my journey down south.

Took a bus ride from Essaouira to Agadir-Inezgane, a beautiful ride along the coast which will take you near the surfers paradise Taghazout.

Where one can find several beautiful yoga resorts combined with surfing.

I seen amazing things along the way that were worth photographing, for example a row of coast houses that were each painted in a color on their back side forming a rainbow together that shines on the ocean. Too bad I couldn’t take a picture of that or any other, cause I was too busy trying not to throw-up.
As the bus was driving reaaaally fast! and I sat all the way in the back lol 😆 .
So you can figure going up and down and lot’s of small turns :mrgreen: i was kinda nauseous the whole ride..

Fortunately I didn’t throw up and arrived at Agadir-Inezgane right around sunset, took a shared taxi from there to the village called Mirleft, which is about 44km down south from Tiznit and about 30km away from Sidi Ifni.

Arrived 2 hours later in Mirleft, had a nice warm shower and a comfy sleep in the cozy 3 room apt.

Next sunny morning I head to the town of Sidi Ifni to walk back along the coast side back north for the arches of Lagzira.
I witnessed indeed the raw and untouched beauty of that area, it is a breath taking scenery, with few parts easy accessible but mostly the rest of it is climbing up and down like Mario Bros and jumping around goat style 😎 !

By the time I had seen 3 arches inside out, I was knocked out 😯 and running low on energy.

As I had seen in the weather forecast there was going to be rain later that afternoon, I decided to forget about the last 2 arches and head back to Mirleft, and chill-out for the rest of the day.

Back at Mirleft I made something to eat, and as it started to rain and storm, I went to sleep early. To wake up next morning, and hey hey surprise surprise!
No electricity 😕 Ok.. nothing new here, we can handle that.
Good thing I took some money the day before from the bank.. 😆

It was still raining nonstop from the day before and storming like crazy, but I went out for a little walk into the village. People were complaining, shop owners were complaining.
I bought myself a lighter and a couple of candles, some other necessities and head back to the apartment, since it was still only raining outside.

It rained again all night with a furious storm, and when I woke up in the morning.. surprise surpriseeeeee no water 😮 !
So there i was early in the morning, no water no electricity.. but hey 😀 keep on smiling,
after all I was out there for adventure lol.

I went outside to the nearest little shop, bought some bottles of water and overheard a conversations about their being a shortage on bread, vegetables and other daily stuff.
So after I had breakfast at the apartment, I went out to the village to see whats going on there. Most of the cafe’s where closed as they couldn’t make coffee or tea.
There was indeed a shortage of fresh produce and bread.
It was still raining nonstop, so I went back inside and thought maybe to leave back north that day. But since I had payed for the apartment till the day after, I decided to stay the last night and leave early in the morning.

Next morning after breakfast and cleaning up the apartment, I head down to the neighbors to drop off the keys. The woman that took the keys asked me if I was heading up north, and told me that there was no road. I didn’t get what she was saying, so she repeated again;
”The lady from next door is a diabetic patient that needs to go for her medical checkup, she went all the way to the bridge and came back!”.
I thanked her and we agreed politely that in case I need to come back, the key to the apartment would be still available.

As i started to walk that’s when it hit me, wait.. what 🙄 ? bridge? what bridge 😆 ??!!
I headed into the village to the main taxi/bus stand, no taxis, no bus.
I spoke with another guy there waiting, which told me that both directions of the main road going north and south were blocked, something about a possible collapse of bridges. Hummmmm…. okaaaayyyy!

A nice fellow that is living across the street of where I stayed in the apartment, told me friendly that it would be better to stay in a hotel, since they might be still having an operating kitchen etc.
He took me to an affordable hotel in the main street of the village, where I checked in and dropped of my stuff. By then things were turning kinda grim in the village, as stocks of fresh and daily demands were running out. Prices suddenly went up the roof.

As locals sat there and kept on complaining about the same stuff over and over.
At a certain point the prices went up so ridiculously, that it just made me wonder what are these greedy shop owners thinking 😕 ??!

After spending the night at the hotel which luckily had a modified espresso machine working on gas heater 😀 !

I woke up in muddy and still rainy village that seemed to be locked out of the region with no supply of fresh goods, weirdos that think they need to maximize all prices of everything, and people who simply forgot how to bake bread on wood stoves etc. 😐 ?!
The last bits of veggies and fresh supplies were sold for extreme prices,
the last butane gas tanks were being bought and driven away like crazy by people on bikes.

As the situation for the village started to get kinda desperate,
with totally no solidarity or unity among the shop keepers in the centre ville.
The village Mirleft is actually a very popular place among tourists in the summer months.

But somehow some of it’s native inhabitants have become so dependent on tourists and ready available goods, that they kinda forgot how to manage by themselves the old way.
But most of all how to take care of each other as a whole together.
Or at least that’s the impression I got in that certain moment..

Walking around there just wondering about the whole scenery and observing,
a man came up to me which seemed to be a city person.
He started to ramble on and on, spilling his guts and how he missed the opportunity to get away that morning, as it seemed some people had gone as a group and were gonna try to cross some river near the broken bridge etc.
Eventually half an hour later I ended up going with that fellow, named Rachid.
Together with some other folks sharing a ride to that nearby bridge up north, where we were dropped of.

Once we got there, finally it started to get really clear and evident.. the situation was of phenomenal proportions.
The kind of stuff you would expect to see in a movie.
A furious roaring river with all sorts of stuff coming down the stream of water including huge full grown palm trees, supplies and goods.
Bridges broken in several parts with here and there some parts sticking out of the water.

With the bridge on the south side of the village Mirleft also being collapsed, the village had become pretty much isolated.
The driver told us to cross the more narrow river at the other bridge,
since at that crossing there were 2 collapsed and flushed away bridges.

So Rachid and I stood there for about 2 minutes, then made the crossover at the other collapsed bridge into the narrower but also raging river
A guy was standing in the middle on a rock, helping people to cross.

I walked right into the water with my boots, thinking hey it’s just this one river and we are “free” yeeejj lol… what was i thinking?? mehhh 😆
It turned out to be a 10km walk to the next bridge… HAHAHAHA, fortunately it was sunny that morning during our walk… 😉

Gourizim - damaged bridges 2014

Anyway Rachid and I had a fun time walking and laughing about the whole situation.
For us having made it so far was 1000 times better then being stuck in Mirleft wondering about what is going on?

So before we knew it we were walking at the last road-turn up a high hill, just to see the final bridge laying down there in the distance.. also collapsed.. sigh 😀 !

At both sides of the bridge more and more people were gathering, as others were also arriving. As usual there were tons of ideas being shouted around that led to no results. As apparently everyone seems to become an expert at the issue, when trouble is at hand.

Rachid and I started to get really hungry by then around 12:00, so we went back up the hill to that higher view point. Some dwellings were there, so he knocked at the 1st door and asked politely for some tea.
It was like we were in a totally different world as before, we were served a fresh made pot of tea, with fresh baked warm bread, olive oil, honey, real butter.

No questions asked, just like that! As you can imagine we blessed those people with all blessings that we could come up with, while eating like 2 runaway prisoners 😆 .

After recharging we went down again, a guy named Mohammed came up to us and asked if we had crossed earlier at the other bridge.

He told us that he was the guy standing in the middle of the stream helping people to cross, and that he had been looking for us,if we were in need for a place to stay the night we were welcome in his humble dwelling.
Yet again another display of total opposite gesture and kindness compared to where we came from earlier that morning and last days. Here is a total random stranger telling you he will share his home and meals with you, just like that no questions asked!

During that day Mohammed would go into the raging river numerous times with a bambu stick,to measure the water and see if there is a passage to help people crossover.

Eventually later in the afternoon when water level got down a little bit he took a bunch of people in groups to the other side of the still roaring river.

We decided to wait until next day to crossover early morning,
and stayed the night in Gourizim, a tiny place with decent and friendly warm hearted people.

Living surrounded by beautiful landscape of hills, valleys, the river,
and sea at the end of the river.

The next day after breakfast we went on our way to the bridge, just to find out that water levels had gone down late at night, and risen again around 7 am caused by much rain fall elsewhere in the country upstream.

So after sitting and hanging around for a couple of hours, thinking that there was some help or solution on the way from the other side.
Rachid and I decided to go up the hill again and look around for other possibilities.

While being up there we knocked at a different dwelling then the day before.
An older man came out, we asked politely for tea, and yet again got served a fresh pot of tea/ warm fresh baked bread/amlou (almond nut paste with argan oil)/honey/olive oil…
generously and just like that!

By then others were joining us there too, we met superman (Yassine) 😎 , with whom we discussed a possibility for crossing the river.

Just as we were discussing on how and when to try it out.. we see Mohammed all the way down there with a stick in the water, and 2 other locals from the other side of the river telling him where to walk and mapping out a walk in the roaring stream.

And minutes later he is crossing a young fellow named Jamal, and manages to get him across, at which he starts to shout like crazy: “get down here, we are doing it now!!”

So we ran down like crazy on the back side of the hill, and before I knew it, I was already standing in the water side by side with Mohammed, Rachid, Yassine and another fellow.
As the water was roaring and pulling we pushed back carefully step by step, holding on to each other. Sometimes dropping down to just below waist.

In general I am not scared that quick, but I can seriously say that the speed and force of the water pulling at you nonstop, flushing rocks and sand from under your feet, is quite a scary experience at first.

Not necessarily frightening, but actually more cause it just goes to show how much we have become disconnected from nature, that most of us city people totally do not understand it or have the experience to deal with it on it’s own terms.
By the time we get in such a situation where nature is boss,
it is either learn quick or face the consequences.
So that said, we kept on going and pushing, running high on adrenaline.
Until we made it to the other side yaj 😀 !

After that I actually crossed the river again 3 times, 1 time to help Mohammed cross an older lady.

Gourizim river - video by Yassine

And another 2 times back and forth with Mohammed to go get our luggage,
which eventually the locals crossed over with the use of ropes at the bridge.

The luggage by the way was in the back of the local Gourizim taxi cab, the driver had transported us 4 times during those 2 days free of charge.
He actually transported anyone on those days between those bridges, and he said he would do so until he runs out of fuel.
When everyone was safely crossed over, we went up the road continuing our way.
As the locals went up the hill I could hear them singing some kind of song of praise and clapping.

It is amazing to see how a small group of people of a very tiny but solid community felt totally responsible to help those that were foreign and in need.
To get them into safety all the way including every last bit of their luggage as well,
with nothing asked back in return.
Not to mention that those people actually stayed behind in a nearly isolated area,
until the problem with the bridges is solved.. which might take a while.
Much gratitude and love for the people of Gourizim that were involved and the exceptionally courageous and brave Mohammed and his devotion.

It is really interesting how life takes unexpected turns, and creates the moments for one to learn and experience more then before.
This whole experience has left quite an impression on me, and will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I met some great people and learned again a lot about life, other people and myself.

Gourzim 2014 - friends of the river.

Morocco had the worst flooding since ages, actually it had never rained this much in recorded history. The infrastructure was totally unprepared for such amounts of water, since it is totally uncommon here. It is also said that this will be the type of weather for the season in the coming years, therefor Morocco will need to prepare itself for a new type of climate.

rough statistics November/December 2014:
30 drowned people (excl. those that are not yet reported)
505 bridges flooded, from which 40+ are totally gone flushed away
estimated 950 Million Dirham damage nation wide (conversion roughly 95 Million EURO)