Reborn in Morocco at Solid Surf & Yoga House
If you go into the ocean you will die, but if you make it out consider yourself reborn. My new found friend Yazid looks serious at me as he says this. It is an old Moroccan saying and something his mother used to say to him. These words weigh heavy as we look out over an angry ocean from a rough cliff top. The sun is setting and I smell wood burning. My hair is still wet and the salt on my face starts to dry. The surfers on the point are getting harder to see, but they are still ripping. The other surfers from the Solid Surf and Yoga House are fooling around, but their voices fade into the background. My trip is getting to the end and I look back on another great time in Morocco. We’ve been here for almost two weeks now. I want to stay a lot longer because it seems like it was only yesterday that we arrived.
This is Africa not Europe
I am one of the last ones to leave the plane. As I step out onto the stairs, I am welcomed by a warm sun, a gentle breeze and a familiar smell. It’s not a smell I can describe or remember, but as soon as I smell it, I know….this is Africa. We make our way through customs and outside we’re confronted by an organised herd of drivers. Each of them holding signs for different people or surf houses. We spot the Solid Surf sign. One other guest is already sitting outside. His name is Sam. Sam has the body of a well trained rugby player, but with a surf look. Curly hair, sunnies, tank top, flip flops, and a very comfortable chilling position. “One more”, the driver says. Whilst waiting we see other surfers being picked up by their drivers. Our drivers makes some calls. “Jalla Jalla”, he shouts after he hangs up. Which means something like: “Let’s go now!” I assume we load everything onto the shiny van we have been waiting next to for the last hour. I am wrong. We walk to another parking lot to a typical Moroccan taxi.
My Western voice starts ranting in my head, and then I realise this is Africa, not Europe. From there on out I start to enjoy that things are different here. Although, the taxi is very old, it is well taken care of. The owner takes pride in his car. Everything is clean and shiny. Most things though, are not working the way they used to. The window lever for example, is held in place by the lid of a soda can. Moroccan tunes play over the one working speaker. “DONKEY”, I shout out loud. ‘Donkey’, is a game I play when I’m in Morocco. When you’re in a car and see a donkey and you’re the first one to spot it, you get a point. If you see it on a road you get two points and if you see it in a city you get five points. When you see a donkey being carried on a wagon by a walking human, you get a thousand points. Anyway, five to nothing for me. We stop at a traffic light. The guy in the car next to us gives us a big smile. He only has about two teeth left but seems friendly. He yells something in Arabic to us, but we don’t understand. The only thing I can make out is shark, scorpion, and surf. That doesn’t sound too promising. We get a big thumbs up as he pulls away with a big cloud of black smoke leaving his exhaust. I enjoy everyday Moroccan life as we make our way toward Taghazout.
Solid Surf & Yoga House
On a hill overlooking Banana point (more on that later), we stop next to a large but cosy looking house. We are welcomed by our host Nienke. She gives us the grand tour and shows us where we’ll be staying over the next two weeks.
Solid Surf & Yoga House is the result of a partnership between the Dutch Jordy Robers, and Moroccan Ayoub Beldjelti. Over the last two years they built this lovely business from scratch. Between the two of them though, there are decades of experience of accommodating surfers in Morocco. Jordy previously co-owned another successful surf house in Taghazout but felt it was time to move on when he and his former partner had different views about the future of the company.
I am very ambitious and want several surf houses in different countries. We deliver high quality against very competitive rates. My goal is to be leading in price quality. I strongly believe to constantly reinvest in presentation and performance. Even more so, I believe that the people who work for Solid Surf are the most important part of the business. I want them to be happy and enjoy their work.
The other part of the partnership and also the manager of the surf and yoga house is the 30 year old Ayoub. Originally from Agadir, but is considered a local because he lived here for so many years. Ayoub is a clear example who made things happen for himself. When he first moved to Taghazout he could hardly speak any English. Finding a job was very hard for him, and so he started by helping out in several surf shops.
In the beginning I was just cleaning stuff or doing small chores like taking the wax of surfboards. It was very difficult back then but I worked hard. After a while, I got asked to work in a real surf school. This was the surf school of Jordy and his former partner. Because, I spent most of my time in the surf camp, my English improved quickly. Sometimes, I even spoke more English than Moroccan. I really enjoyed life back then.
But after as the business grew things started to change, and I felt less comfortable working there towards the end. Not too long after I quit, Jordy came up to me and asked how I felt about becoming his new business partner for Solid Surf. This of course was a great honour for me. I started with nothing and now I had the chance to be part of my own business.
Ayoub isn’t the biggest guy in the world but he has a big heart. He surfs, but also goes to the gym a lot. At first he might seem a bit tough, but as soon as he meets you he brings out a big smile and makes you feel welcome.
For me the quality is the most important thing. In the past I sometimes worked with up to 120 guests. That’s not manageable anymore. Now, here at Solid Surf we have a maximum of 30 guests. That’s a lot better for everyone. Our teachers can hang out with people during the evening, and everybody gets to know one another. I can see if someone is upset and can do something about it.
This also reflects in the way we work together. We are a small group and much more like a family. We almost live together. In a way we are less strict here and that makes for a lot better atmosphere. People love to work here.
Our surf crew consists of a couple of guys, myself, and my girlfriend. We are the only experienced surfers staying at the house. Most of the others are absolute beginners, or have got just a couple of weeks under their belts. This means we go on a mission every day to find a suitable surf spot. Which shouldn’t be too hard, because there’s swell predicted throughout our stay. One day of strong winds and rain should give us the opportunity to visit a hammam or go for a massage. When it rains heavily you can’t go surfing because all the dirt and sewage overflows run straight into the ocean and the water turns brown to the horizon.
No worries about that today though. Sunny skies and waves enough. Singer Ryan Adams just released a new album and our surf coach Yazid is a big fan. As the tunes blast out of the speakers we check out a few spots before making a decision. In the mean time we start singing along. My Love!
Calamaris Sandwich at Anza
One of our favourite surf spots is Anza. A beach break with waves breaking left and right throughout all tides. Anza also has an A-Frame reef break, which attracts some of the better surfers, and local bodyboarders. Especially after work hours you need to hassle a bit to get waves. Early mornings you get the wave to yourself and the rest of the day is fine as well. After each session we check in at a local cafe, and Yazid disappears as we chill in the sun and brag about our best waves. He returns with epic calamaris sandwiches. For just two euros you get a massive sandwich with French fries. Big boy Sam sometimes eats three of those.
One day we decide to make the drive up North to Imsouane. This small fishing village has become increasingly popular amongst surfers over the years. On our way in we get treated to a spectacular view of the bay. Immediately, I understand why this place appeals to travelling surfers. The swell wraps around a harbour wall and connects for hundreds of meters all the way to the inside if you are lucky. As we arrive the tide is already getting a bit too high, but still enjoyable with a fun- or longboard. I decided to take my chances at the more exposed ‘Cathedrals’ bay. The waves here are more powerful as they break left over a reef. Or you can opt for the right hand point break. I go for the right hander.
After a really nice session we gather in the fishing village with a view on the bay and the remaining surfers. Yazid takes charge and orders barbecued fish for us. He has a holiday home in the area, and knows the owner. Therefore, we get our food within no-time. The best and freshest fish I ever had in my life. The surroundings and an empty surfer stomach probably cloud my judgement a bit, but it’s delicious nevertheless.
Our lives at the Solid Surf house are easy. We get up when we feel like it. Most of the days this still means we get up for a dawnie, but by the time we get back breakfast is ready. Pancakes, eggs, fresh fruit, bread, cereals, coffee, tea, there’s something there for everyone. In the mean time you chill outside, mingle with the other guests, listen to some surf tunes, and pack your healthy lunch for another day of sun and surf.
When you return from a rewarding day of surf and you have some strength left, you can do yoga on the rooftop terrace overlooking the ocean. In the mean time dinner is prepared. Every night you get treated with nice home made food. The starter is usually a soup, followed by a different main meal every night. If you’re still not full, you can enjoy a dessert. If you don’t feel like eating at home there are plenty of (cheap) options close by.
Banana’s On High Tide
In the area surrounding the Solid Surf house there are an almost infinite number of surf spots. For almost every swell and wind direction you can choose where you want to surf. From relaxed beach breaks to world class point breaks like Anchor Point. But in the end one spot was clearly our favourite, and just within walking distance of the house.
Banana point is a right hand point break which almost always works. The take off zone is quite wide so it can hold a crowd. Even on bigger days the drop isn’t too difficult. A river mouth forms a sandbank and this creates a quicker inside part of the wave. The paddle out is hard work on bigger days, but if you’re brave and have some local knowledge you can use a rock jump to get you directly in the line up.
As with many waves Banana’s works best on a certain tide, but it can be surfed throughout all tides. The funny thing with locals like Yazid though, is that they are convinced it doesn’t work on a high tide.
Banana’s on high tide? No!
We disagreed and this left us walking to the beach at the crack of dawn several times. Still, every time we got good waves. Whether it was small and relaxed with our own little surf crew on softtops, or big and hard work with only the most dedicated. We always got waves, especially during high tide.
Reborn in Morocco
It’s almost dark now and I am still sitting on the cliff top thinking about the words spoken by Yazid. I look back on my trip, and what a trip it was. The surf, the country, the food, the people. Simply epic. I went into the ocean but didn’t really die. Sometimes it was scary, and sometimes I got a bit lucky, but I didn’t die. I do feel reborn though. Reborn in Morocco.
Solid Surf & Yoga.
Solid Surf & Yoga.