Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gazing Afar

There are times when I sit on the beach with my feet in the surf, gazing across the ocean blue off to the horizon, imagining that I can see shapes and silhouettes on the west African coast. I’ve thought more than once about where I would end up if I could whiz across the Atlantic in line with where I am in Florida. What would I see?

This spot on the east coast of Florida is at 29° latitude, which is pretty much across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands and Morocco, Northern Africa. Checking an atlas I found that 29° latitude runs through New Smyrna Beach, across 3,900 nautical miles, passing close to Tenerife in the Canaries and Agadir on the Moroccan coast.

But what kind of place is Agadir, Morocco? A tourist brochure calls it the most visited city in southern Morocco, with palm-lined boulevards and beachfront bars that give it a resort feel. It has even been called the “Miami of Morocco.” During the winter months, with its tropical temperatures it becomes a vacation magnet for many Europeans. Agadir is situated on the coast near the foot of the Atlas Mountains, and the city proper has a population of about 200,000. It is a fishing and commercial port, but also a seaside resort with long sandy beaches. Because of the many European visitors, Agadir is not a typically traditional Moroccan city, but a modern, busy and spirited town. It is famous for its seafood, but that is not surprising.

From 1913 until the 1950s, the French were instrumental in improving the port facilities, the fishing industry and the city’s exports. Then in 1961 a major earthquake mostly destroyed the city, killing 15,000 people. Agadir was rebuilt in a modern style unlike the more traditional cities of Fez and Marrakech.

One of the tourist activities in Agadir is very unlike what you will find on central Florida beaches. How would you like to forget that boogie board or frisbee and go camel riding over the dunes and through the surf?

1 comment:

  1. Cool! Now you can sit and imagine what the people in Agadir are doing at that very moment. Hmmm, I wonder what is directly across the Gulf from us?


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America