Saffron and Surfing: Taliouine and Taghazout

Following our Sahara Desert adventure we headed northwest towards the Atlantic coast.

Taliouine is a small town (less than 6,000 residents) in the heart of saffron country. Saffron flowers (which are a crocus – similar to back home in Alberta) grow in the area with the help of irrigation. The purple flowers are picked as they bloom before sunrise. They are then taken and manually the three small piece of deliciousness are extracted. The saffron is air-dried and packaged for sale.  Most saffron is sold through cooperatives. We visited the  Museum of Saffron Cultivation and Souktana Cooperative to learn more about the product, buy some and enjoy some tea. Our attempt to see purple fields of saffron fields was unsuccessful (as it’s the season for picking), but we did enjoy the landscape and valley.

Our accommodations were in the town’s kasbah (fortress) which as been converted into an auberge (french word for inn). It was fabulous with an internal courtyard, tasteful rooms and traditionally cooked meals.

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Taghazout is a smaller coastal town known for fishing and surfing. Upon arrival you get that bohemian feeling with a mash-up of locals and visitors (complete with stereotypical hippies living out of vans) and lots of restaurants and surf shops. Most shops offer package deals (surf and stay). We were blessed with an apartment overlooking the ocean – what a gift!

Surfing is a ton of fun and a lot of work. You quickly see how one gets a fit surfers body if you’re doing it everyday! Our instructor from Surf Berbere did a great job of getting us started. Not shockingly,  the boys with their past board experience, took to surfing quickly.  I enjoyed my day of basics – balancing on the board on my belly, catching the wave, and almost getting up. Certainly it peaked my interest and I’d give it a go in the future.

Driving into Taghazout it’s clear that the place is changing. Prior to the town there is a giant swath of obviously resort style development: manicured boulevards, paved parking lots with lights, new low rise dwellings, cranes and a Hyatt. Plus, the signs advertising untis for sale and the pending golf course. It would be interesting to come back in 5 years time to see the impact of this investment.

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