Well - what a busy two weeks! I'm really enjoying the mild weather and sunshine while I ride my new bike around the resort. Yes! I have a new (second hand) bike. What a joy !
The purchase process was not so much of a joy to be honest. Interesting, but not what I would term 'joyful'! An early morning visit to Berkane market with my friend Fadoua. Starting with a nonchalant wonder around to look at the bikes, checking out a few prices as we went. Actually, maybe I have to set the scene a little more at this stage ... the entire area of the market that the bikes are sold is currently ankle deep in mud after the overnight rain we'd had ... there are approximately fifty push bikes and literally hundreds of the mopeds that are so favoured here, located in the same area. We are the ONLY two females in this area, we are quite obviously a rarity ... thus as many of you that have been here will appreciate, we were on the receiving end of more than our fair share of overt staring! I find it amusing, but it can get a little tiresome after a while. So, at that stage we walked around the rest of the market, browsing at the wares.
This week was the turn of subsidised clothing. Morocco is still classed as a 'Third World' country. Therefore it receives aid from Europe, including clothing. It was like the biggest outdoor jumble sale you've ever seen in your life. The women were really getting stuck in (a bit like the little old ladies at the Town Hall jumbles on a Saturday morning in the UK) - the bartering was fast and furious - truly a sight to behold. After buying a few bits and pieces, including some rechargeable torches from Algeria. The border with Algeria is still closed, but there is so much stuff here from Algeria it's hilarious to think how it gets smuggled across - for those of you who've experienced the Melilla border crossing, you'll have some idea.
Then back to the bikes ... I was determined not to leave the market without one this week. I spotted one I really liked the look of, there the negotiations began. Thankfully I had the expert assistance of Fadoua, who not only speaks the local language, but has the knowledge of how 'things are done' in Morocco concerning the barter system. After a laugh and joke with the guys, prices started sky high (well where my budget was concerned they were sky high). Try as we might, the guy was not succumbing to our way of thinking, so after thirty minutes and attracting an audience of about ten blokes, we decided to move onto the next one down on the list. Again, major negotiations, slightly more realistic starting price this time. Thirty minutes and only five or six spectators, I decided to give them all something to look at, and I took the bike for a 'test drive' through the muddy field. It was hilarious, and the bike handled wonderfully, but of course I wasn't allowed to let him know I thought that. By now I was getting a little bored of the 'system' - these things just take too much time. If you have time to kill, fantastic - I don't!! A price was agreed - finally ... it had only taken most of the day. Then you have to take the bike, with 'seller' and 'buyer' to register that it has been legally sold. ID's are registered, twenty dirham to the administrator, and the bike was finally mine (along with my slip of paper that I have to show the police if I get stopped). Anyway, it was worth it (almost), I love my new toy.
We're also really busy back & forwards to Oujda buying furniture and white goods for a range of properties that are in full swing to be ready for the rental season this year. I've been learning a lot about water and electricity meter installations - who would have thought it was such a complicated process? Oh sorry - I almost forgot, we're dealing with Fadesa and Moroccan bureaucracy - how silly of me to think it would be a simple job!? I've spent hours assisting the electrician rewire the fuse box in a property because it was all wrong ...? Why? Moroccan job creation methinks?! We've had a couple of owners over to sign for new places, so we've spent some time and assisted them with various options and overseeing snagging lists. It really is quite satisfying for us to be able to share with people what we have learnt about the processes here over the past sixteen months.
Yesterday we had a lunchtime BBQ on the balcony, with a 'Spanglish theme'. Three Spanish guests, two of whom speak English, an American who speaks Spanish, a Moroccan that speaks Spanish and various other languages and three English speakers ... sangria and beer flowed and the 'Spanglish' improved dramatically. Really lovely way to spend a January Saturday afternoon.
Today we're off to Ras El Mar to celebrate with an owner who's been here signing for his property. Fish & chips is hopefully on the menu, if the fishermen have been able to pick up something good! Apparently the fishing has been a bit difficult in the past few weeks as it's been very windy over night.
Mr V. has also been busy working on your website, i.e this one. It's a new year, so it's time for a new look. You've probably noticed the new colour scheme and graphics. If you like it or dislike it, let us know. More importantly he's also added 9 language versions which can be accessed from the homepage at: www.saidiaholidayrentals.com. This should help broaden the spectrum of people that we can help. Remember that, courtesy of our multi-talented staff complement, we can help people face-to-face in English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Afrikaans and Arabic.
Feel free to send us your comments or requests by clicking here and using the form on the page.
Saidia Holiday Rentals = On site, on time, on budget