an early morning.. before light.. fog.. loaded up the toyota landcruiser with surfboards and camera gear to head north to a 'slab' one of the locals insisted we come visit. surfers will know a slab is a 'shelf' of reef/rock under the water that creates a barreling wave. Abdel El Harim, the #1 surfer in morocco, invited us up to surf, take some photos and hang out for the day. this is not a wave for beginners. your first time to a place like this is intimidating.. getting in the water was the first task. you need to jump in amongst rocks and paddle out (swim out if you're the photographer). mission accomplished, but not without fear of cleaning rock out of my teeth. thats apparently what makes this stuff 'fun'. at one point i was thrown to and held down on the bottom by a large wave, only to arise with cuts and a slightly damaged water housing. i could've cared less about the blood on me.. i was looking the water housing over to see if water was leaking in and if i had indeed drown another camera and lens. nope.. minor scrapes on the housing was it. next thought? "time to swim your ass off out of the impact zone".
surfers and bodyboarders fought for every wave like vultures on a dead animal. i was left to fend for myself and try and get a few photos of Abdel, the guy we came with. the attached image was the best of the surf session.
after, we entered the medina (walled city) to his house for lunch which his mom had already prepared for us. a feast. saying they eat a big lunch is an understatement. Abdel told us stories of his debut with pro surfers at the pipemasters in hawaii in '05. as he began winning heats in the contest, no one knew who he was. the contest announcer asked where he was from, not knowing what MOR stood for next to his name. Abdel's response? i came in on a camel from Morocco. the rest of the contest he was the talk of the island of Oahu. he made it to the quarterfinals ousting top pro's, like shane dorian. a likable, humorous guy with a huge smile, Abdel is liked by everyone. in this area, he is treated like a star and is the only reason we were surfing at his local beach. we exchanged travel stories over lunch, met his family and hit the surf again in the afternoon. exhaustion set in later and everything seemed funny. mark and i laughed at old high school stories and SNL skits of Chris Farley. we capped off the night with an avocado/almond/walnut/soy milk smoothie (trust me, you'll want one), and then nearly killed a woman negotiating 60mph traffic on the highway.. are you serious ? ladie, this isn't frogger.