V: MOHAMMEDIA – MERZOUGA

En Mohammedia estuvimos dos semanas acampando en el parking de la playa Mannismann con permiso de nuestro amigo Hassan, vecino del lugar. Todos los días venían amigos a visitarnos, tocábamos música, Souffiane nos preparaba Tajines deliciosos al fuego que todas las noches estaba prendido gracias a Hassan.

Conocimos un poco de la ciudad, hicimos nuevos amigos. Llegaron Dsu (nuestro camarógrafo oficial) y Luciana, esa misma noche tocamos en el Café Sirene Bleu. Fuimos todos menos las chicas que se tuvieron que quedar en el “carping” para cuidarlo (ya que nos habían robado dos bicis).

Carping en Mohammedia
Carping en Mohammedia

Organizamos una tocata en el parking y pusimos por primera vez la pantalla gigante ya que Dsu había traído el proyector. Después del concierto pusimos el video del viaje anterior, la gente estaba muy contenta de verse hace cuatro años.

Youseff, otro amigo que vive por ahí cerca organizó una fiesta en su casa, antes de empezar el concierto, llegaron Xelo y Noemí de Marrakech. Después de la 1ra parte del concierto aparecieron Los Yukas, que venían desde Suiza. La familia de Youseff preparó varios platos gigantes de Couscous para todos.

jamming con amigos del pueblo
concierto multietnico

Los Yukas (Klaus, Rasta Reto, Reto Harry Potter y Jaqui), se habían venido en un camión de bomberos que compraron en Suiza. Lo arreglaron y los hicieron pasar por Motorhome.

Ya éramos 19 personas y dos perros (Aurelio y Malandra) acampando en Mannismann. Todos los días preparar desayuno, almuerzo y cena para todos. Ya no alcanzaban las ollas, el fuego tenía que ser el doble de grande para el doble de pescado o pollo. Empezamos a comprar pollos vivos porque era mas barato. Los matábamos, desplumábamos y limpiábamos.


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Tocamos en la Ecole de Hotelerie de Mohammedia, primero nos invitaron a comer y después fue el concierto, estuvo muy bueno, Dsu filmó mucho y el público estaba increíblemente animado.

Teníamos planeado hacer otra fiesta en el parking y ese mismo día al mediodía vino la policía a decirnos que no teníamos permiso para hacerlo, era por nuestra propia seguridad.

locura por el souq, marrakech
Locura por el souq, Marrakech

Luego de dos semanas de fiesta, buena onda y bastante lluvia, partimos hacia Marrakech.

En Marrakech fuimos directo a un parking que estaba en pleno centro. Nos dieron permiso para armar las carpas ahí. Nos fuimos a la Plaza Jamâa el Fna, la plaza más grande e importante del lugar. Esta lleno de músicos, maltratadores de serpientes y monos, vendedores de agua y dentaduras postizas. Cuando baja el sol, se montan un mercado de comida, más de 100 puestos llenos de olores y sabores, Sopas, frituras, carnes, jugos, pescados, especias, etc.


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Tocamos en la plaza junto a Zisa y los Yukas. Paseamos por la medina y turisteamos un poco.

Dejamos la locura de Marrakech para dirigirnos a Merzouga (en el Sahara) donde teníamos programado un concierto con los Zisa.

Para llegar a Merzouga, atravesamos el Atlas (montañas), dormimos ahí una noche y viajamos todo el día siguiente hasta llegar a nuestro destino pasada la media noche.

Llegamos el 30 de diciembre al “Camping La Palmeraie”, frente a la gran duna “Erg Chebi” donde nos recibió Omar, viejo amigo de Giovanni (Zisa), nos dejó acampar ahí y montamos el “chiringuito”.

la gran duna Erg Chebi, Merzouga
la gran duna Erg Chebi, Merzouga

El 31 a la noche tocamos en la Jaima del camping, había un grupo de 50 españoles de una asociación “África Nómada”, ayudan a construir escuelas y otras cosas en el Sahara.

Ese mismo día a la tarde empezó a llover y no paró hasta el otro día. Lluvia en el desierto!!! L’AGUA L’AGUA!!

Cuando mejoró el tiempo subimos la gran duna y descubrimos el Guitar surf, nueva tendencia musical en la que tocamos junto al viento. Una experiencia muy mística.

El 3 de enero volvimos a tocar con Los Yukas y Zisa en el camping, pero afuera frente a la duna. Vino mucha gente del lugar.

Estuvimos 15 días haciendo videos con Dsu, ensayando y empezando a grabar algunas cosas.

el director Dsu
el director Dsu

Los Yukas se volvieron a Suiza, otra vez volvimos a ser 14. Tocamos dos veces en el Hotel Merzouga. El dueño nos invitó a tocar en su otro hotel en Erfoud y como nos quedaba de camino a Sidi Ifni, hacia allí nos dirigimos.

Después de una larga despedida de nuestros nuevos amigos, viajamos y llegamos al Hotel Tafilalet ****.

Llegamos y nos dieron varias habitaciones con baño privado y ducha (llevábamos meses durmiendo en carpa). Lujo máximo!! Una vez acomodados, nos llevaron al Restaurante a comer y después fuimos al bar a tocar.

Al otro día nos dimos cuenta que había internet (WIFI) en el hotel, así que nos colgamos ahí y con la excusa de que tocábamos de nuevo, nos quedamos otra noche y tocamos un ratito.

Después de dos días de viaje, en los cuales nos desviamos varios kilómetros, nos perdimos y dormimos en lugares maravillosos, fue el cumpleaños de Victoria, pasamos un rato por Tiznit a comprar cosas, ya que las verduras eran más baratas. Llegamos a Sidi Ifni!!


pernoctation
pernoctation por el camino a Ifni

***


The trailer’s axle held out like a champ and we got to Mohammedia the same evening we left Meknes.  We turned off the main road towards the sea and drove down a beat up path until we arrived to Mannesmann beach—where the Chantos had spent a few weeks the last time they had passed through Morocco 4 years before.  We set up our gypsy campsite on the side of a dirt road just as some acquaintances from the last trip happened to be passing by and they stopped for a while to catch up with their old friends.  Over the following days more and more familiar faces showed up as word spread that their dear traveling musician friends were back in town.


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We grew to be such a large gathering, especially in the evenings while sitting and playing around the fire, that it became a custom for some people to bring tajines (the name of the upside-down, funnel shaped, mud cooking pot as well as the dish prepared in it) and cook over the fire for everybody because our supplies were, well, limited.  Besides, the tajines were much more delicious than anything we could offer.  Also when we’d go to buy food, we took into account that live chickens cost half as much as dead, deplumed chickens, and many of us (the ‘westerners’) were initiated into the respected ritual of killing, gutting, and depluming the chickens ourselves.

TODOS!
TODOS!

Our numbers doubled when we were finally joined by Klaus, Rasta Reto and Harry Potter from Los Yukas, Jacqui the firewoman, her beagle mix Malandra, Dsu with a new film projector for the band, Noemi back again, and Luciana.  Los Yukas, Jacqui, and Malandra drove down from Switzerland in a pearl of an old school Mercedes fire truck, which was quickly converted into our morning convenience store/café.  The rear opened up to a compartment equipped with a kitchen, shelves stocked with food, everything!

The musicians were invited to play at the end of the year party at Mohammedia’s School of Hotel/Restaurant Management, which was a huge success.  Thus we ended our multi-week occupation of Mannesmann beach, and after a bitter-sweet goodbye session with all of our friends, our supersized caravan headed out towards Marrakech.

Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech
Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech

Our arrival to our destination was evident based on the insane amount of traffic and commotion that we encountered, which grew in intensity as we inched towards the center.  We slipped into a parking lot, had a friendly chat with the lot’s security staff, and set up Carping Chanto on public grounds once again.  From camp we only had to cross one busy street to get to the main pedestrian drag that leads to the Jamâa el Fna (Marrakech’s largest and main central plaza), and we discovered that the best way to do so was to throw yourself into the middle of the road, asserting yourself as king and acting as if you did not acknowledge the oncoming traffic.  Thus it was a game of chicken, but when in Rome….

The entrances to the gigantic labyrinth of a souq by the plaza were lined with tables, benches, and stands that served typical Moroccan food, and by that I mean not Moroccan tourist food.  If you want to eat hearty and pinch pennies, you have to eat where the locals eat.  The typical soup ‘harira’ for example is a meal in itself, and at 4 dirham (0.40 euro) with free refills you can’t go wrong.  There were countless rows of orange juice stands throughout the plaza, all identical, and all competition.  And the avocado milkshakes, mmm…


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We spent three days in Marrakech, enough for the guys to play some in the Jamâa el Fna, and to do just the right amount of tourism before feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of the environment.  Cars, motorcycles, bicycles, horse drawn carriages, donkeys, cobras, baboons, merchants, madness.  Impressive madness.

After a three day voyage eastward into the snowy Atlas mountains, down the other side and across the desert, we arrived at the end of December to Merzouga, a tiny desert town at the foot of the breathtaking Erg Chebi, the Great Sand Dune.  We landed at a Kasbah about one kilometer outside of town where los Chantos and los Yukas had been invited by Ziba, a Swiss music group, to play a new years eve concert with them for a group of Spaniards visiting from an NGO that works constructing and supporting schools in the Sahara.

Jamming en la Kasbah, Merzouga
Jamming en la Kasbah, Merzouga

The concert was a spectacular way of celebrating the start of a new year, and that evening (as well as days to come) it rained so much and so intensely that an enormous lake (of a few square kilometers) formed that hadn’t existed in 40 years according to the townsfolk.  We were treated like heroes for having brought rain to the desert, which was nice, because usually people that you visit hate it when you bring them ugly weather.

el nuevisimo Lago Erg Chebi despues de las lluvias
el nuevisimo Lago Erg Chebi despues de las lluvias

All day, every day, people—men, women, children, elders—would stop by (sometimes even sitting outside of our tents, waiting for us to wake up!) asking if we wanted to trade any of our belongings with them.  Their freshness sometimes was overbearing, as many came on with a “what do I have to lose by asking” attitude, but in the end they were right….Mostly they offered fossils incorporated into different handmade stone pieces such as ashtrays and necklaces, but Andres, el Perro, and el Niño scored authentic Bedouin camel wool Chilabas for their cell phones and other valuables.

y este perro desiertico tan raro y sonriente....?
y este perro desiertico tan raro y sonriente....?

We would make souq in Merzouga and Rizzani, a larger town about 40 minutes away, and with the money made we’d buy food and coffee—lots of coffee—to survive from day to day.  We would also go on excursions around the desolate surroundings, and on one such excursion to the top of the Great Sand Dune to watch the sun set, we remained atop the dune late into the night beneath trillions of twinkling stars and listening to the hypnotic melodies produced by guitar surfing.  Andres discovered this new phenomenon by serendipity; the constant desert breeze vibrated his guitar strings in a way that produced harmonies in multiple octaves, and when joined by the rest of the guitars held at the correct angle, the sound produced was something out of this world, something magical.

Guitar Surfing bajo la luna
Guitar Surfing bajo la luna

The guys got some gigs at a nearby hotel, and thanks to that contact we all got room and board for two days at the luxurious Hotel Tafilalet in Erfoud in exchange for two concerts.  Hot water, television, wifi….we didn’t know what to do with ourselves.  Naturally all good things have to end, and we continued westward towards Sidi Ifni.  It took us three days, hundreds of extra kilometers that went augmenting each time we got lost, and many shot nerves and tried patience for some of us….but on January 18, 2009, 2.5 months after we had left the gray skies of Basel, Switzerland, we finally arrived at our destination—Sidi Ifni.

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