We took the train to El Jadida and spent a few hours checking out the local Portugese fort. From there we took a 'grand taxi' to Oualidia. Most taxis that we had taken in Morocco were 'petit' taxis, or small, hatchback taxis that could take 2 or 3 passengers. The 'grand taxi' is an old Mercedes that can seat up to 6 passengers, though not comfortably. Since petit taxis did not travel as far as Oualidia, another 2.5 hours to the South, we had to take a grand taxi. The grand taxi rate to Oualidia is set at 180 dhirams and hard to negotiate, so we had to split that fare amongst 2 people instead of the 6 passengers who normally occupy the vehicle. It was a nerve wracking ride, going along the coast and passing on one-lane highways without seat belts. But hey, what can you do.
Oualidia was a pleasant surprise. Our goal was to surf, and surf we did. We located Dreams Surf, the surf shop from our Lonely Planet book. That afternoon, we took a 2 hour surfing lesson, during which I realized that my biggest weakness in surfing is weak paddling. However, when the instructor gave my surfboard a push as the wave approached, I was able to stand up every time. But without the push, I couldn't build up enough speed to 'catch' the wave. Timing is a crucial part of surfing, I'm realizing. After we surfed, our instructor showed us the carcass of a dead whale. When we got back to the surf shop, the owner invited us to stay the night at his apartment (for a modest fee) and surf again the next morning before we headed back to Casablanca. Sure, why not? And we spent the evening in the quiet beach town of Oualidia.
The next morning's surfing was far less successful than the previous day's. We surfed at a different spot with larger waves but these waves had shorter durations. I couldn't get up on any of these waves and quit early after my left shoulder got sore. Still, I realized that true surfers only get good by surfing every day, sometimes more than once per day. I've now been surfing 8 times, and need to raise my fitness level if I'm going to take it to the next level.
Jaleel, the owner of Dreams Surf had a small, energetic, friendly, black dog (probably a street dog), that came with us during the 2nd surfing session. The dog proved to be a useful companion as he watched all of our stuff while we surfed. Not all dogs like water though, as was clear when Jaleel picked up the scared dog and threw him into the water to give the dog some swimming experience.