This post is related to the one I posted two weeks ago on Saidia. Since we had some free time, we decided to do a day trip to Berkane. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Berkane.
Travelling by taxi to Berkane
To get to the area we could only do it by Grand Taxi, but as the hotel was only reached by Petit Taxis, we had to ask for a couple of them to pick us up at the door of the hotel and take us to the taxi stand in Saidia.
One of the taxi drivers, agreed that for 100 dirhams in total he would bring us to Berkane. In addition, we paid for the five available seats in the car (even though there were four of us) so that no one else would get in and we would be more comfortable on the way.
The distance between the two cities was approximately 25 kilometers and the road was in pretty good condition. At the beginning of the journey, the taxi driver was kind enough to slow down and explain to us that we were passing by the Algerian border. I don’t deny that I have always been curious about this kind of thing, and that only one road separated us from the neighbouring country. In the photo you will see below you can see the flags of both countries:
I have to admit that the road was shorter than I thought it would be a priori, although it probably helped that we had a chat between the three of us, making plans about the purchases we were going to make once we got to Berkane.
One thing that struck me powerfully was the number of trucks that passed by lots of people staying in the cargo area. When we asked the taxi driver, he told us that it was a rural area, and that returning in the trucks was very common among farmers who did not live there and were returning to their homes after work.
Shopping in Berkane
Our intention was to take a small taxi again to take us to the centre when we arrived in Berkane; however, the clever taxi driver, like himself, offered to take us directly there for just a little more money, promising to stay a couple of hours later in the same place to take us back to Saidia. In this way, we gained in comfort and he earned more than double the money he thought he would make.
Once we closed the deal with a good handshake, as tradition dictates, we started the excursion! First, we went to a clothing store to help Wadiâ buy a chilaba so he could look good at the party we were having at night. It was a pity that we didn’t videotape it, because I doubt very much that the poor man would have seen himself in such a situation: instead of choosing his clothes calmly, he had a bunch of crazy women saying things like: “That one looks terrible on you, change it”, “Don’t you see how long it is”, “That one looks like pyjamas”… and so on.
We almost drove him crazy, but after a long time, the four of us agreed on a chilaba that didn’t even fit! Since some repairs had to be made, he told the store owner that he would patiently accompany us on our tour of the center while he finished.
The truth is that the configuration of the center caught my attention: I had the perception that they had taken advantage of the low buildings to install premises, roofing everything and forming galleries, as if it were a kind of giant urban shopping center.
They had everything: first we came across a small square where we found imitation articles, bags, shoes, music, … a little bit of everything. Once you entered the mall, you found the most diverse items: from lizard soap displayed in a drugstore, to 54-inch flat screen TVs, to bags, shoes, clothes, … a sort of Corte Inglés but a beast.
At the end of the corridor we find the area I liked best: the craftsmanship! That’s when I went crazy photographing everything that crossed my path: teapots of all sizes, bags (but not imitation ones from Morocco) and an herbalist shop as it should be, with the bulk goods and rose water from the Valley of the Roses.
There I felt like a child entering an Imaginarium for the first time, ecstatic about everything around me. Besides, by chance I came across a small shop with wooden items at the door; I went in to gossip a bit, and found the candles I had been looking for so long (all of you who follow me on Facebook will know that I have looked for them more than once, but they were offered to me at disproportionate prices) for only 1 euro. In total, let me take two!
Leaving the shop, I came across another little square, and in the distance I saw a walking orange juice stand. As the owner did not speak Spanish, I went to Wadiâ to ask him how much a large glass cost. And in the end, for the modest price of 6 dirhams a head, we had a very nice time drinking the best orange juice you can find in all of Morocco.
On the way back we realized how late it was and that, to make matters worse, we had not yet picked up the chilaba, so we returned as fast as we could to the area where the taxi driver was waiting for us. To top it all off, he had the idea of parking in front of a store with hundreds of items on sale at the door, so pushed by the compulsive consumer that the three of us had inside we asked him if he minded if we came in to take a look.
Now I would like to ask you a question: What do you think would be the reaction of the taxi driver, after we were late, if we asked him to wait a little longer? At the very least, he would have responded in a not very pleasant way, and most probably he would have started the meter from the first minute we were late.
Instead, the taxi driver assured us that he had no problem with us wasting a little more time in that shop, keeping the best of his smiles and chatting with the rest of the taxi drivers around as if he had nothing better to do. In short, an example made flesh of the famous phrase “hurry kills”. I think that’s the main reason why I’ll never get tired of travelling to Morocco: they invite you to share their vital rhythm, diametrically opposed to the western one, forcing you to relax and come back with your batteries fully charged.
And with this last reflection, my trip to Berkane ends; I hope you liked it and remember that if you go to Saidia and want to do some shopping, it’s the ideal place to do so and spend a different day.
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