Adventure in Agadir

Those of you who regularly follow my blog know that theTravelsketcher and I took our first cruise in November (click here to read more about that trip). We were lukewarm about the experience, but thought we would give it another try. Our second cruise left from Lisbon in mid-January, and included stops in the Canary Islands, Morocco, Spain, and Gibraltar. We were on a smaller ship which meant that we could always dock at a port rather than anchor off shore and take a tender. At most of our stops, it was a short walk to the town center or old town area. However, in Agadir, Morocco we were docked in an industrial area, about four kilometers from town, a little more than a short walk. We were told by crew members that there were taxis waiting outside to take us into town, so off we went. Here’s what happened that day a few weeks ago, and I still find myself chuckling about it even now.

View from the ship.

After disembarking, we saw a fleet of orange taxis, and it wasn’t long before the drivers of those cars swarmed around us like fruit flies on an old banana, all promising a great tour of all their beloved Agadir. “We just want a ride into town,” we told them. “Not possible,” they objected, “we’ll take you on a tour, you’ll see the city and surrounding area, shop, and have tea, you’ll have a great time,” they promised. After negotiating the price, and as we were getting into the taxi, our driver snagged another passenger, and shoved him into the car with us. He looked at us sheepishly and promised not to take our kidneys. Well that’s comforting.

Our exceptionally friendly, outgoing, and enthusiastic driver, Fares, who spoke an interesting mix of French, English, and Arabic, and drove like he was once an Indy car driver, took off like a flash, as I scrambled to find my seatbelt. Dodging pedestrians, cyclists, donkey carts, stray dogs, camals, donkeys without carts, and more, we sped through traffic circles as we headed up towards a view point.

We introduced ourselves, Brad, from Lodi, CA, promised again not to steal our kidneys. Fares told us all about Agadir while distractedly rushing up the narrow, winding roads. “Everyone here is so happy,” he said, “Agadir is safe, clean, and is a great place for tourists.” We came to a screeching stop at a view point where he encouraged us to take photos as he chatted with other taxi drivers. I noticed a structure on the hill above us, and asked if we could see it. “No,” he said as he hustled us back into the car, “better stops,” he promised.

As we were speeding back down the hill, Brad mentioned that he wanted to do some shopping, specifically, at a pharmacy. “You want leather,” Fares told him. “The best leather is from Morocco. I’ll take you to the best magasin (shop) for leather,” he said as he screeched to a stop at our next destination, an Argan oil producer and shop.

Fares told us all about the amazing benefits of this miraculous oil, the purest form being found only in Morocco. It is used in cosmetics, for pain relief, skin damage; the benefits seem ubiquitous. He ushered us in where we saw several women in white lab coats. Brad leaned in close and whispered “this is where they’ll take our kidneys.” A woman quickly approached and gave us a tour and explained about their products. After dropping some euros, Fares quickly ushered us back into the car, parked near a good number of other orange taxis outside the shop. Our next destination, the Mohamed V Mosque.

Fares allowed us only a few minutes to look at it from the outside, before he hurried us back into the car and whisked us to the promised leather magasin.

We were ushered in where high-pressure salesmen seemed to know exactly what we wanted. The salesman focused on Terry and presented him with a beautiful leather jacket. “Just 200€,” he trilled as he looked at me for confirmation. I told Terry I was going to the park across the street, and quickly ducked out of the shop, leaving Terry and Brad to deal with the salesmen.

As I was wandering through the park snapping photos, I heard Fares calling, “madam, you want photos of you!” Well, no, I didn’t, but without listening to my objections, he quickly commandeered my phone, and acted like a professional photographer with a famous super model on the other side of the lens! He moved around as he snapped photos of me from different angles. Several dozen photos later, he handed back my phone and quickly hurried back to the magasin.

Meanwhile, Terry and Brad decided to match them at their game, pretended to be father and son, and said that mama won’t let them spend more than 50€. Each exquisite item they were presented with, they sadly shook their heads, “mama says no more than 50€.” Terry left the store and joined me in the park. Fares approached us a few minutes later and said the price of the jacket had just been reduced to 100€! “You should buy it,” he said, “it’s a great price for such a beautiful jacket!” “Next time,” Terry said.

We pulled away from the long line of orange taxis and headed to our next destination, a market and the promised tea. Here Fares ushered us into various shops, all with handmade items, where the proprietors gave us their spiels about their unique, rare, and quintessential products. We purchased a few items as Fares encouraged us to buy this or that, “it’s the best _____,” (you fill in the blank) “you’ll ever find,” he promised. I couldn’t get over his enthusiasm, especially with the three of us who were not keen on shopping.

As we sat together for tea, Fares, in a dramatic flourish, poured the steaming liquid back and forth from the teapot to a glass several times, before serving us each a glass. He took a small sip and quickly left the table to chat with someone, another taxi driver, a friend maybe, we’ll never know, but he seemed to know everyone in Agadir.

We knew going in that we would cross paths with some persistent and hardcore sales people, but our options were limited and we wanted to see Agadir. We had a great time, and Fares and I are now best buds. He grabbed my phone as he dropped us off at the ship (kidneys intact) and entered his contact information, making me promise to call him for another tour or airport transfer on our next trip to Morocco. We even took a selfie and hugged goodbye.

So, if you need assistance in Agadir, just let me know, I’ve got a friend. I found myself chuckling as we boarded the ship, and returned to our room.

We bumped into Brad a few days later in Màlaga, Spain; I inquired about his kidneys and he assured me that they’re just fine.

As always, I would love to hear from you.

Wishing you good kidney health,


27 thoughts on “Adventure in Agadir

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  1. A thoroughly fun and hysterical read. What a adventure and what great stories…! The closest I can get to a story of a wild ride was our taxi driver in Cairo. We were crossing a busy bridge over the Nile, and I said–“oh look, you can see our hotel” (the Hilton a on a piece of land in the middle of the river). Without warning the driver backed up in traffic–fast–in –lots of traffic–so I could get a great photo. Scary!!!!! We are very glad you didn’t lose your kidneys (although haggling for the best price would have been interesting.) Your photos–esp of the trees–are amazing. And the one of the both of you with your intrepid driver-guide: priceless!

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  2. Fares took great shots of you in the park, and once you got your camera back, you photographed some beautiful details as always. I love your good cheer and sense of humour, I’m afraid I might’ve been a touch annoyed. But it seems that a tour was your only option for getting to Agadir. Glad that no one lost a kidney.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, those aggressive tour guides…I visited Morocco in 2017, and I found them to be unrelenting in earning a quick buck. Some of these solicitors (like your Fares) do an okay job of showing you around the city, but others do the bare minimum, yet expect $200+ from you at the end of it…no thanks! I’ve learned just to ignore them, keep my head down, and visit the place all by myself. But I guess if you’re on a time crunch, a “tour guide” might be nice. You certainly saw a lot of Agadir, that’s for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, unrelenting is an excellent term for them! That’s one of the major disadvantages of a cruise; you get a small window of time in each port. We probably won’t go on another one, for that reason, and like you, we prefer independent travel to tours. Thanks for your comment!

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  4. Based on what I’ve read from other bloggers visiting different parts of Morocco, this situation is not uncommon. I admit it would have annoyed me. I don’t even like it when sales people quietly hover around me in shops here at home. You did a good job leaving with your Euros intact and a captivating story. And a cultural experience/interaction, and that can’t be discounted.

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  5. What a fun tour you had with Fares! I’m sure I’d be very intimidated with such high-pressure salesmen and I probably would have bought way too much for fear of saying no hahaha! Seems like you had a wonderful time in Agadir regardless, and now you know where to find the best ___ you’ll ever find! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I had such a good laugh now, thank you Tricia! Fares reminds me of our taxi driver in Hurghada in Egypt – during our ride he occasionally shouted “I’m a Ferreira driver!” … I wasn’t so worried about my kidneys, but more about whether we would reach our destination alive 😄. At least you got the opportunity to take beautiful photos (and also play model yourself). Great story!

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