Five o clock in the morning. I reluctantly got my stuff together for what was going to be one big mission. We take the plane from Orly airport, to Casablanca, where we wait for four hours with the other members of the french press and musicians. Then we get on the plane that takes us to Dakhlar. I really have no idea what to expect. I dream of merguez, cous cous and dates- oh, and tea. Mint teaaaa……
I wake up in Dakhlar, which lies on the coast of Morocco with the desert one side, then the sea.. I expect to take off my snowboard jacket and my seven layers that remain from baltic Paris. But I don’t. Dakhlar is windy. Really windy. Which would explain why it’s a kite boarding, wind surfing paradise.
At the entrance of the airport a group of local women sing. My eyes sting with the bright sun. I hear the word ‘tea’. I follow the minty aroma and find myself in a tent. It’s really sweet, but it does the job.
We’re hoarded off to our campsite. It resembles a refugee camp, with carpets leading up to each tent. But the interior is perfect and despite being weary about leaving our stuff in there, we do and we head off to the main tent. I crossed Morrocain surfer Abdel El Harim who I recognised from the ASP tour, he’d been there for a surf contest held a few days before… ‘Welcome to my country !’
Early to bed after the 20 hour day, early to rise the next. The wind surfing / kite surfing contest changed spots because there wasn’t enough wind. Enough wind !!!??? I asked with my coiffure resembling more a horses dinner, than a tousled surfer babe look I was going for. 40 km across the desert later, driven by a Dakhlar local who’d driven down from Woking, England for the event. Woking ?!! I grew up 15 minutes down the road !
The competition assembled wind surfing, kite boarding but even more precisely, there were racing wind surfers, which requires a totally different board, against freestyle kite boarders, for a race that covered 30 km. Now call me crazy, but was this not a bit injust Hey, lets have a running race, you wear trainers and I’ll wear heels ?!
ANyway, after the comp, we headed to town and bought almonds and dates. FIT.
Once again I was wrongly tired and went to bed early, missing out on the camp celebrations.
However, the neighbours kindly bought back the party at 6 am.
Looking like Linda Blair from the Exorcist, the next day I interviewed some riders, namely the Olympic Wind surfer, and representative of female relations in France.
Then Fran and I had the chance to have a helicopter ride over the bay with some photographers. It was truely amazing, but in changing position, I found myself climbing over the others to another seat, with no seat belt and the doors both open !!!!
The ‘Femmes d’ici et d’Ailleurs’ is a concept whereby the sports girls exchange cultures with the local women. I was gutted to have missed out on the ‘cooking’ because apparently they’d made merguez and cous cous. Boo hoo. However, I did get some beautiful henna, which looked great despite my tatty nails ! The local girls were really keen to show me their handi crafts which consisted of decorations made from leather.
We headed back into town and I looked around the markets. I got myself a typical moroccan bag, worn more by the pretentious bohemian types of Paris and London than the Casablancan’s, which is really gorgeous, however it DOES smell of camels.
We had check in at 3 am, so we stayed awake, to wait with 300 other passengers to go back to France. I looked around and noticed all the people who’d been on the same flight as me had sore, sun burned faces. Ouch ! and felt relieved I’d slapped on the factor 20 !