Dragon’s Treasureby Samora Chapman / 29.01.2010
As the stars faded, the mosque called out to the sleepy souls of Taghazout. It was time for Morning Prayer; time to pay tribute to the gift of a new day. But we were awoken by a different calling. A deep pounding, growling thunder. The ocean’s heartbeat. We peaked our heads out the window as the breeze whispered its way through the village, collecting dawn chatter and blowing it out to sea. Like travelers they came out of the north; starting with ripples, gathering power and energy and marching down the coast. We stared out over Anchor point and marveled at what the Gods had delivered: 6-8 foot beastly waves!
We chucked our crispy wet-suits in plastic bags, gripped our boards and hop skipped out into the street with a few derums in our pockets and butterflies in our stomachs. I popped across the road to the fruit market; 30 derums for a bunch of bananas, 3 chocolates, and 6 steamy fresh rolls. “We gotta head north,” says Mook, “if it’s good here, its gonna be going mad further up the coast”.
Joe concurred, “ya fuck man I can’t take Anchors again. It’s too crowded. We may as well go home and surf New Pier!”
“So it’s agreed then, we go north. Al hamdu lillah” -praise be to Allah! The trusty ZETRAP bus came hurtling out of the desert as hounds scattered. We fought our way on and escaped the hubbub of Taghazout into the vast emptiness beyond.
We glued our faces to the window, eyes transfixed on the horizon where point after point reached out into the sea like ragged, devilish fingers scratching and grasping at the green ocean. And the waves poured into the desert. As we rounded each point another bay stretched out ahead. The landscape emptied, the waves grew and the humans disappeared. Finally we came across an point with massive waves tumbling down the headland in what looked like slow motion. Is it ride-able? Can we even get to the waves? We stared at one another frozen to the spot then burst into shouts of ‘Stop the bus! Stop the bus! The bus screeched to a halt as we bashed past bewildered locals and hit the road running. Not a soul in sight. With yelps and screams we dodged our way through a perilous cactus field bursting with pink flowers. Massive orange mountains grew into the sky behind us musing over the dancing mortals. We were suddenly brought to a stand-still by a twelve foot cliff-drop into the water, where razor-like black rocks quivered below. 6 to 8 foot whistling waves crashed down the point. We had found the dreaded and infamous spot known only as Dracula’s.
We stashed our belongings, climbed down the cliff into the soupy devils pit, and precariously navigated 10 meters of vicious rocks. We huddled behind an outcrop and waited for the thunder to subside. Then we launched, three lost boys set forth into the ocean scratching for the horizon like madmen fleeing the bloodthirsty cliffs of hell. A lucky gap in the set and we were suddenly stroking out into deep ocean. We sat huddled staring up the point with bulging eyes and pounding hearts. The sets came in waves of 10, lips like guillotines. Mook was the first to snag one of the beasts as it came galloping down the point. He stroked in and disappeared. Me and Joe sat and watched the wave racing down the point, out running the fang-like cliffs. Moments passed. Where is he? 30 seconds, no sign of the scrawny soldier. Then finally in the distance, 500 meters down the line a figure was spat out alive and reborn screaming; the beast slain!
For hours we surfed the empty perfection. The wind dropped and the green ocean turned into sleek velvet. The sun rose high into the blue sky and throbbed down onto the orange mountains, which began simmering and melting into the ocean. The boundaries blurred, land and sea became one. I shook my head, trying to focus my eyes, but it was a lost cause. There was no escaping this mind bending experience.
At mid-day we crawled out of the ocean, begging for mercy. We were struck down by dehydration, fatigue, sun-burn and peyote stab wounds from the cactus field. We crawled under a shrub, gulped our water greedily and gnawed at dry bread, chocolate and bananas with slack necked satisfaction. My eyes ached as I crawled deeper into the shrub and passed out. The memories of a thousand perfect waves played over and over in my dreams. I woke to the sun falling over the mountains. Dizzily, I raised my dusty head and looked about at the boys dossing, moving only to shrug off the flies eagerly licking the sweat off their prone corpses. As I gazed out at the waves, a little yellow hound came trotting out of the cactus field. Behind it came a strange figure, walking at an angle like an ancient crab. The boys awoke bemused, as the stranger and his hound entered our presence.
He crouched and held out a thick leathery hand; “Assalaam alaikum”. A fist to the chest. Alaikum assalaam. We saluted the grizzly man. We gave him water. He sucked the liquid with a strange mix of agony and satisfaction. “Smoke?” he pulled out a newspaper hash bat the size of a chicken drumstick and lit it, crouching in the dirt. We accepted warily. “You come with me? We go to cave.”
Off we headed, trailing the crooked shepherd. He was ancient but deceptively fast. He turned at every bend in the coast, beckoning, then disappeared. The hash splif set in as the path got steeper and steeper and the drop into the deadly abyss got higher and more deadly. One wrong foot and it was over for sure. My legs trembled slightly as adrenalin and poison pulsed through my veins.
Finally, we came upon the grizzly shepherd’s cave, hidden in the high red rocks with a splatter of rubbish staining the cliff face like bird excrement. We entered and were greeted by two hungry rogues lying in filth with their hounds and their strange collection of belongings. The gnarled dragons seemed enslaved by their worthless treasures. We sat down as a fire was stoked and the shepherd rummaged through his things, pulling out a beautiful ornate teapot and some make-shift goblets. He carefully brewed a potion of herbs, mint and sugar. The tea was served ceremoniously. We nodded gratefully: “shukran, shukran jesile”. It was strong and delicious, sending our dry throats into heavenly bliss. “Thank you my friend. This is the best dam tea I have ever tasted!” We sat quietly and stared out to sea with the old men of the desert, as the sun set and the fire rose into the evening.
As darkness fell, we thanked the old dragons and went in search of the road. With relief we found the empty desert highway and waited until at a set of head-lights struck out into the dark night. We hailed down the vehicle and handed over whatever money we had left. We had survived. An hour later we dragged our rinsed souls back into Taghazout.
A few weeks later we were back in Marrakech standing on the roof of our hotel. The snowy Atlas Mountains quiet on the horizon. As the clock struck 7, a mosque began calling for evening prayer. One howling wail soon became 10, then 100 as the entire city became engulfed in an echoing chant. We sat dead still and listened, unable to breath or move. Gradually, the noise subsided until one last holy man sang out over the city. And then came silence. Our journey had come to an end.