Serena and I are sitting in a narrow boat in the lagoon of Moulay Bousselham. The rain is biblical. It is lashing down and reminding me strongly of a west coast of Scotland summer. Our birdwatching guide, Hassan, has kindly lent me a pair of waterproof trousers but the puddles on my seat have filled them up.
Hassan is driving the boat with one hand and desperately baling water with the other. ‘Move into the middle,’ he yells through the gale, ‘we are too shallow, we will get caught in the sand.’ Then the engine cuts out. I have spent many aforementioned wet summers in small boats with my family and outboards so am used to that spluttering phut that means ‘abandon hope!’
Gamely, Hassan pulls the cord. Nothing. Again. Nada. Again. The sound of silence and raindrops. He shrugs and sits down, still baling. ‘Can you see the cormorants,’ he asks chirpily – I suspect to distract us – and we peer through the sheets of water into the distance where some black birds sit huddled looking as miserable as us.
The outboard splutters into life. ‘I think we should go back,’ says Serena wisely. ‘No, no. The flamingos are just there at the end of the marsh,’ responds Hassan, I love his Dunkirk spirit. Undeterred by a boat filled with water, imminent peril of being scuttled on sand flats and with an engine that is working only part time we forge ahead.
There they are, more pink than white, but flamingos nonetheless. ‘Do you see them?’ asks Hassan. ‘Yes!’ we chorus while I take a celebratory picture and we make a run for the shore.
A couple of short hours later and our world changes. The sun is out and the sky is blue as we drive over the mountains behind Tangier and on to Tamuda Bay. We’ve been invited to stay at St Regis La Bahia Blanca Resort a gorgeous new hotel and spa that is just opening in Tamuda Bay.
St Regis La Bahia Blanca
All the rooms look onto the sparkling bay and we are served tea and little cakes (special gluten free ones for Serena) by our butler. She is a young woman and very proud of her new role in the hotel. ‘If you need anything at all, just call me.’
The serenity and luxury is a welcome contrast to the buffeting we’ve just had. The bath is actually bigger than our boat was. The architecture is graceful with archways framing the blue of the sea. We try out everything: the three bubbling pools in the spa, the jetty where you can fish from and a sunrise-goldened walk along the shell-strewn beach. Dinner is delicious and I highly recommend the squid-ink risotto.
Both of us are extremely reluctant to leave this haven and spend a long time over breakfast in the garden. ‘But duty and honour call me to the north…’ (if you recognise the quote give yourself a biscuit as a prize), so we pack up and with one last detour through the shade of the palm trees set off for the historic town of Tetouan.
I can promise you luxury and epic baths at St Regis La Bahia Blanca Resort in Tamuda Bay. We really enjoyed our stay there: great staff, beautiful venue with every amenity, delightful staff and a lot to explore in the region.
If you would like to try birdwatching with Hassan in Moulay Bousselham, email me for his WhatsApp, I can’t promise biblical rain though.
If you liked the story of biblical rain and epic baths in Moulay Bousselham and Tamuda Bay have you listened to my podcast? Click here for more info www.alicemorrison.co.uk/podcast