VI: SIDI IFNI, TIERRA PROMETIDA

La costa colorada de Ifni

Sidi Ifni, la tierra prometida chanto! El 18 de enero por la noche llegamos a Ifni y fuimos directo al Café Lanzarote, donde pensamos que estaría su dueño Hassan, nuestro viejo amigo. Cuando entramos vimos nuestras fotos en la pared bajo el cartel de “Bienvenidos”, que habían puesto hace 4 años cuando estuvimos la otra vez.

Los Chantos tambien fueron jovenes alguna vez....
Los Chantos tambien fueron jovenes alguna vez....

Preguntamos por Hassan, pero ya no era más el dueño así que nos fuimos a buscar a Bader, otro amigo.

Abajo de su casa habían puesto un Café, preguntamos por él y no estaba. Así que lo esperamos tomando un café. Llegó y estuvimos un rato con él en su casa tomando té y conversando.

La idea era alquilar una casa grande donde pudiéramos vivir cómodos y trabajar en el nuevo disco. Así que empezó la búsqueda, le preguntamos a todo el mundo. La primera noche intentamos acampar fuera de Ifni camino a Guelmin, pero cuando estábamos armando todo, llegó la policía y por nuestra propia seguridad nos echó. Así que volvimos a Ifni, algunos dormían en casa de Bader y otros acampaban en la playa.

Como pasó la noche Andrex
Como pasó la noche Andrex

Al otro día en una Jam Session en el Café Lanzarote apareció Ahmed, un antiguo amigo de Marco (se vieron solo 1 día hace 20 años en Ifni), él nos invitó a su casa y algunos fueron y otro siguieron en la playa.

Al día siguiente, llovió así que nos fuimos todos a la casa de Ahmed. Mientras tanto seguía la búsqueda de “La Villa Chanto”. Llegó Titi, la hermana de Victoria.

Nos quedamos dos días, fue el cumple años del Niño (Damien) y lo festejamos junto con el de Victoria que no hicimos nada por estar viajando. Con ayuda de Ahmed y sus contactos, encontramos la tan esperada casa.

VILLA CHANTO
VILLA CHANTO

Sorteamos los cuartos y quedamos todos felices. Por fin teníamos cocina con 2 bombonas de gas, muchas ollas, agua, 3 baños sin ducha (no importa porque hay Hammam cerca), sala de ensayo, terrazas, 3 pisos enteros para nosotros solos!! 15 personas y……. 1 SOLA LLAVE!!!!

El día que entramos a la casa, celebramos el cumple años número 40 de Marco.

Organizamos la sala de ensayo y nos pusimos a ensayar como nunca antes había pasado en la historia de la banda, 4 o mas, o menos, horas diarias. Increíble!! Las chicas, felices en su nueva cocina, se expresaban en toda su feminidad preparando deliciosos manjares para todos, eso, era después de un arduo día de trabajo (todos los días) vendiendo en el mercado, para poder comprar la comida, leche y kilos de café para que los “perlas” pudieran ensayar tranquilos.

<<Cuanto cuesta, amiga?>>  <<Mmm...cuanto tienes, amigo?>>
Cuanto por el perro, amigo?


La lluvia ya no nos importaba, porque estábamos bajo techo. L’agua l’agua llegó después de 30 años, se desbordaron los ríos. Pero la gente estaba contenta por que se aseguraban comida por mucho tiempo.

Trayendo l'agua l'agua a toooodo Marruecos
Trayendo l'agua l'agua a toooodo Marruecos

Una noche tocamos en el café La Barandilla y fue mucha gente estuvo muy lindo.

Intentamos volver a tocar ahí, pero la policía no le quería dar el premiso al bar.

La rutina de ensayo continuó y empezamos a grabar algunas pistas. Juan, el que más entiende del tema, hizo de técnico.

Quisimos renovar la visa (el 26 de febrero terminaban los 3 meses de turistas) pero la policía de Ifni nos la negó.

Un fin de semana nos fuimos a unas termas en Abainou a 50 km de Ifni, donde nos alojaron en una Suite gigante para todos, nos bañamos en la terma y al otro día tocamos para los turistas y la gente del lugar. Se nos rompió la furgo y nos quedamos otra noche más.

Festejamos el cumple años de Belén, con una Jam Session con músicos invitados de suiza y Marruecos.

Carlos y Dsu hicieron el video “Salaam Aleikum” un clip Reggaeton/Árabe muy divertido en el que también participó mucha gente de Ifni.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtJHGhfGZhw)

Lebes?  Lebes!
Lebes? Lebes!

El 18 de febrero, Carlos y Victoria se fueron para Barcelona para arreglar unas cosas y nosotros nos preparábamos para el viaje a Mauritania a renovar la visa ya que decidimos quedarnos otro mes en la casa y en Marruecos.

Al día siguiente nos fuimos para Sidi Wafi, una playa a 25kms de Ifni donde había una fiesta “hippie travelers”, la mayoría eran alemanes y europeos en general. Había marroquíes surfers.

A la noche empezó el concierto y a la 3ra canción, Yasmin se cayó a un pozo de casi 4 metros de profundidad. Por suerte no fue nada grave, solo se quebró una costilla y el tobillo. El concierto termino al instante y Marco, Damien, Xelo y Lisa partieron a Tiznit al hospital.

la pobre piba
la pobre piba

Los demás nos quedamos ahí, sin saber que hacer, aprovechamos la pantalla gigante para mostrar el video “Salaam Aleikum”, fue un éxito. Horas después llegaron los chicos, menos Yasmin, Damien y Xelo que se habían ido a Agadir a un mejor hospital.

Acampamos en la playa y al otro día regresamos a Ifni a esperar a los chicos para decidir que haríamos con las visas y el viaje.

Como se enteran los de PETA ....
Como se enteran los de PETA ....

Ifni—“lagoon” in Berber; quiet little coastal fishing town; Chanto haven. Many of the inhabitants actually speak Spanish as the region was actually considered part of Spain until 1969, and now belongs to the Tiznit province. The town is located on a hillside that slopes from the mountains down to the Atlantic Ocean and on one hand the region’s microclimate was much warmer than where we had come from, but the evening fog never failed to dampen anything left outside—be it forgotten laundry or Aurelio.


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We arrived to Sidi Ifni late at night and headed straight away towards Café Lanzarote, the Chantos’ nargilah lounge where they used to jam night after night during their last stay in Ifni. The guys were anxious to find friends fast (and a place to sleep), but the management had changed and their old acquaintances no longer had any affiliation with the place. So we climbed back into our vehicles and drove towards the outskirts of town and set up our habitual camp in the middle of a field. Just as we had erected all the tents and were about to start cooking dinner however, the police showed up and claimed that locals that lived in the surrounding countryside could come and rob or attack us and for our safety we were not allowed to camp there. Right, some simple life country folk might find reason in taking on all 15 of us and a feisty dog. We had no choice in the matter though, so we headed back into town and dispersed to sleep among a friend’s house, in the car, and on the beach.

After a few homeless evenings, while jamming at Café Lanzarote, Marco ran into his old rowdy friend Ahmed (well really they shared one night of craziness 20 years ago in Ifni but they clearly remembered each other despite the years) who invited all of us to invade his house.

Sunshine outside of Ahmed's house
Sunshine outside of Ahmed's house

In the meantime we spread the word through town that we were looking to rent a house for a few months, to finally have some sort of home base and principally for the guys to have studio space to record their new album. Titi de la Luna came during these days, making the final count 16 plus Aurelio, and then on the 23 of January we acquired a marvelous three story house with a terrace on the roof—all for us! We picked rooms via a lottery system and after months of sharing absolutely everything, each of us eagerly went about setting up our personal, private haven.

Titi and Ayma, our yoga instructors
Titi and Ayma, our yoga instructors

Soon we had a sort of rhythm/routine worked out. The early birds would go out and acquire breakfast supplies and organize morning yoga sessions, then depending on the day we’d maybe go to a neighboring town’s market and set up shop, though mostly we set up for Sidi Ifni’s own daily market starting at about 5 pm. During the day we’d take advantage of our “free time” and head down to the beach, go on excursions, check our mail at the local internet cafe, etc. The musicians would, for the first time in Chanto history, shut themselves in their improvised music studio starting at about 5 pm and not come out for hours, and towards the night the owls (owlettes really, and Xelo) would cook dinner for 16 plus stragglers that always appeared here and there.

Extracurricular activities on the rooftop
Extracurricular activities on the rooftop

Thus our rhythmic life ensued in Ifni. Titi was pseudo-adopted by an elder, sad faced German man while drinking tea at a nearby café one day. A few decades back, he had been attracted by the easy going lightness of Sidi Ifni’s air and had moved there and set up a hotel/café, had a family, and all. However he wore a deflated face that day, and as he explained to us how things have gotten ugly in Ifni, about the corrupt judicial system and the nasty things that had occurred to innocent people (that cannot even be spoken about on the streets because you don’t know who might be listening). It seems that the straw that broke the camel’s back occurred when townsfolk got tired of the province (and thus the country) taking advantage of all the goods brought in via Ifni’s port while doing little or nothing to ensure the wellbeing of Ifni’s conditions as a town as well as for its residents. In June 2008 town residents staged a demonstration at the port which ended in unnecessary police brutality, arrests, cases of torture, even disappearances. This invoked fear and defeat in the residents’ hearts—something understandable, albeit very sad. So it occurred to Titi to propose a Chanto concert at the café of her new German grandfather figure. His eyes lit up in a way that warmed our hearts, and the Chantos played at La Barandilla for an enthusiastic and enlightened crowd. They quickly scored gigs at other cafes and hotels and were also set to repeat at La Barandilla, but unfortunately word reached the ears of officials and they made it known to all the café owners that apparently one had to solicit a pricey permission from local police in order to be allowed to hold a concert at their locale. And if they didn’t comply, they’d be paying an even pricier fine….so you can guess what happened – cancelled, cancelled, cancelled. And the German man’s face once again appeared older and defeated. What to do.

Tranquility.  Laghzira Beach
Tranquility. Laghzira Beach

Titi and I decided to escape Chantolandia to explore the surroundings of Tafraout, a gorgeous little town (inland) surrounded by snowcapped mountains and towers of sunburnt red rock formations. Thing is, it had rained so much the night before we left to catch the bus that the white water Ifni River surged into existence, cutting all roads in and out of Ifni and isolating the entire town. There we were at 7 am, flipping out and laughing hysterically along with all the town’s residents that came out of their houses (or climbed onto their roofs) to witness this rare spectacle.

And the rain rain rain came down down down ....
And the rain rain rain came down down down ....

That evening we caught the first public transport that finally decided to brave the new river and made it to Tafraout the following day, and the rest of the kids spent the weekend 50 km south of Ifni at a hot springs resort in Abainau where the guys played a concert. Titi headed out from Tafraout onward to travel solo in the desert and I returned to Ifni in time to witness (and participate in) the hysterics of Carlos and Dsu’s music video entitled Salaam Aleikum, for which they recorded locals repeating the typical Arabic greeting and us dancing ridiculously while draped in Arabic garb. For those who have seen the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtJHGhfGZhw) you can hear the sweet sound of guitar surfing during the end credits.

On February 19 the caravan arrived at a festival in Sidi Wafi where the guys had been asked to play a concert that night. Early into the show, Yasmin went in search of a place to squat and in the darkness didn’t see—and fell into—a four meter deep crater, breaking her ankle and a rib. After stopping the concert and pulling her out of the hole, Marco, Damien, Xelo, and Lisa took Yasmin to the closest emergency hospital in Tiznit, more than two hours away. In the end they opted to continue traveling two hours more to the bigger and more modern city of Agadir in search of a better hospital. Damien and Xelo stayed with Yasmin in Agadir and everybody else camped on the beach of Sidi Wafi. The following morning they traveled back to Villa Chanto in Sidi Ifni to come up with a plan ‘c’ now that plan ‘b’ had also been crossed off. In the meantime all they could do was wait for news from Yasmin and company….

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