Skhirat to Ain Harhoura
Trip Start Aug 06, 2008
39Trip End Ongoing
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Today I'm going to do another "backwards hike", working my way from Rabat towards Casablanca. Starting point: Temara, a large suburb snuggled right next to Rabat. Ending point: Skhirat, where I ended up last time. A sign that said “Ain Harhoura” pointing towards the coast caught my attention on a recent trip, so I decided to do a little research to see if it’s actually a town or just a neighbourhood of Temara. Wikipedia says that, as part of a project of government decentralization, Ain Harhoura was made an independent town just a few years ago.
I get off at the Temara train station and crawl through a hole in the wall on the coastal, north side of the tracks
I don’t have big expectations of this town, figuring it will probably be just a bunch of empty summer houses and a generic strip of sand
beach. But I’m pleasantly surprised to find a jagged coral coastline instead with myriads of tiny pools, cool rock formations, and cliffs with and picturesque homes perched on top—each one unique in its style. There’s a rocky lagoon with a couple dozen fellows out wading in it hunting for clams or crabs.
It’s no Depoe Bay, but since I came expecting to see sand, it’s a world of discovery. I soon find a shady cliff where I strum my set and take my video clip, take a couple close up shots of the various coral formations, and then continue on along the coast heading east, inching my way along the sharp coral
Further down, there’s a shabby boardwalk stretch, and some even more jagged coral cliffs with huge boulders dropped into the ocean. Finally it seems I’ve reached the edge of town, with Rabat just a stones throw away, beckoning me. But I need to explore this area more thoroughly before continuing on. So I head up through an upscale villa neighbourhood and on up to the main coastal highway.
On the other side is a scruffy looking forest. I notice a couple of cars parked at a gateway, so I figure I might as well go and check it out. Haven’t done a whole lot of forest hikes here in Morocco! It turns out to be a half decent forest park with jogging trails and children’s play areas—and no glue sniffers, drunks or hobos in sight anywhere! As I sit on a park bench to strum a few more songs, a large herd of European tourists come through, accompanied by Moroccan soldiers… I don’t know if this is an extra security measure after the bombing in Marrakech, or if these are just really important tourists! A couple of them snap photos of me, I guess assuming that I’m part of the attraction.
No offense, but after seeing the forests of Europe, I kind of doubt that these tourists are going to be too impressed by the scruffy forest of Ain Harhoura—but it is quite refreshing if you’re coming from barren Casablanca…
From there, I head on southwest a bit farther, and decide to take one more look at the coast to see if there’s anything more to see
Luckily, I had foreseen that a situation like this might arise, and I’d brought a pair of shorts along with me. There’s no way I’m going to pass up this opportunity for a swim—especially since the surf in Casablanca is so rough making swimming there al but impossible. I find a couple of respectable looking ladies and ask if I can leave my guitar and clothes next to them.
“There’s not a bomb there, is there?” One of them jokes, obviously referring to the incident in Marrakech a few weeks ago...
I jump in the water and enjoy the most refreshing swim I’ve had in a very long time. It’s like an enormous swimming pool where you can float around endlessly without having to worry about bumping into the wall or someone else. It feels like my own little corner of paradise.
Feeling very satisfied, I get out, thank my baggage watcher, and continue on down the road
One of the Coolest Bridges in Morocco
The hike southwest along the highway isn’t all that interesting. As the town start to thin out with just random housing developments and clubs here and there, but I know there’s yet one more very cool “discovery” ahead: The Skhirat Bridge. A beautiful suspension bridge with stone towers over a gorge—I’ve always wanted to get a closer look of it… and now if course, it’s my chance.
But as the sun scorched hike continues on and on, I start to wonder if this was such a good idea… it seems I underestimated how far I’d have to walk. But I press on, determined to reach that bridge on foot, or perish in the undertaking. I finally reach the turn off to Ain Attiq, and continue on through an industrial zone, where I finally find a cheap place to eat “dzhezh marka” chicken stew with fries... Here I take a little break and then continue on
Finally, at 4 PM, I finally reach the bridge, and it is a beauty to behold. It’s a suspension bridge, with two cut stone towers shaped like traditional Moroccan gates. The floor is just long metal beams that make a loud clanking sound each time a vehicle crosses. To the left is a sheer rock precipice and to the right is a thick, green forest valley. There’s also railway bridge nearby where you can walk across and get a nice panoramic view. I scramble around, relishing my “discovery”, climbing up the rock cliff for an above shot, then down to the canyon floor, then finding a shady spot to strum, with clanking of crossing vehicles blending with my music. The fact that it took me so much work to get here makes this experience even more delicious.
And so my day’s journey comes to an end. Some trips are about the people you meet or you travel with… other trips are about the things you discover along the way. Well, today was the latter.. It’s nice to realize that there a still some beautiful spots to discover right near Casablanca.