11.03.2014 - 15.03.2014 18 °C
Words cannot describe the mindspin that occurs when one minute you are in the great white silent arctic and the next you are thrown into the chaos of Marrakech. A cacophony of sounds – beeping taxis, donkeys, people and motorbikes. The colours are so vibrant with spices and dyed goods lined up in stalls against the unrelenting terracotta colours. It was a big adjustment! At first I thought I was going to hate it but after a while I discovered how friendly and tolerant the people are. The roads are just full of people walking along the streets, crossing in the middle of traffic everywhere. There are donkeys and cart, horses and carriages and a million taxis and motor bikes and yet everyone is friendly and the cars seem to stop to let people wander across the road.
We stayed in a riad called Daria which is in the old Kasbah. We travelled down tiny narrow cobbled streets like a labyrinth that barely fit the width of our car and finally were dropped off in a tiny lane outside what looked like a slum building with a door in the middle of the wall.
We have since learned that morrocans do not do up th out side of their houses as that would be boastful to neighbours but once inside it’s a different matter! It was like walking into an oasis. Cool, quiet, decorated in traditional yey restful morrocan colours with a courtyard which had giant orange trees in it. We were exceedingly relieved to find how nice it all was.
That night we went out for Manda’s birthday dinner at Café Barraca. This was complicated by the fact that in Marrakech Taxis are only licenced for three people unless it’s a Grande one ( and then they can take about ten!!) We got the petite so we were split up. Manda and I got a very terse bloke who drove for a while and then flung us out into an island in the middle of teeming traffic and said – here, dinner and then drove off.
Jokingly I said – what if the others don’t turn up? ( We worked out we had no idea of the name of the restaurant, no idea of the address of where we were staying and absolutely no idea where we were.
Half an hour later we had just decided to work out how to get back to our hotel when this boy came up and said 2 women, 2 women, dinner? We nearly told him to go away as it’s a common way to grab tourists by saying they know you from the hotel when we realised that his friend was the other taxi driver who had sent him looking for us. We followed him down a long street and around a corner along a long park and then finally through the main square which was teeming with snake charmers, drummers and various other attractions. Eventually he took us to a restaurant where we discovered Jo and mel having a drink and not at all interested in where we were!
We then had a delicious morrocan traditional meal complete with Alcohol (not so traditional) belly dancer and live music. The highlight of the night was the happy birthday song sung by all of the waiters while Manda blew out her candle set into some morrocan pastries.
We made it back to the riad and had a good night sleep (except for me having a little sleep walking moment)
After a more French breakfast (after the Scandinavian) we set off with our guide Abdullah for a walking tour. We went through the tombs of Saadian, the Bahia Palace, the Place de la Kisseria and a walk though the souks among other historical sites. We saw many mosques but only those of the faith are allowed to enter them in morocco. Lunch was in the Kasbah café where we discussed the likelihood of us getting lost on the way home (high) and the likelihood of us.
finding our way back to the artisans in the souks (low). We ate in that night as the riad does a typical morrocan tagine . Very nice! And a relief that we no longer have to re mortgage our houses to afford a bottle of wine!
The next morning we set off on our own and went to the majorellie gardens which contain Yves St Laurent’s ashes as he owned and restored these gardens which were really beautiful and also contained the berber museum – very interesting. We then trekked back to the souks which we found a little disappointing after our day with the guide ( we only found the crap touristy ones!)
Oh yes forgot to tell you that we all bought a flying carpet yesterday in the womens cooperative – that will be fun getting them stuffed into our bags!!
We had a great dinner a place called Café Clock which is run by an Englishman but is very mush young hip morocco.
We left the next morning and taxied up to the Ourgaine valley in the foothills of the Atlas mountains – it was freezing – snow on the hills above us and rained so we sat inside the upstairs of the hotel restaurant – looked a bit like a morrocan ski lodge and then sat in front of the fire all afternoon. It was divine.
Dinner was a nice bottle of red with a delicious 3 course dinner. Heavy French influence of course so I am very happy.
Today we went on the first of our treks – if that was grade 1 then I would hate to see what equipment you need for a grade 4!! I would tell you more about it now but I hear the call to prayer echoing down the valley and in Mel and my book that means its wine time – so perhaps tomorrow!! Adieu!
So we have had no wifi fot three days!! Which was just as well as I doubt I could have summoned the strength to write anything after our three treks up into the mountains. We have walked on average 10 -13 kms a day – mostly uphill as far as I can ascertain and some of the uphill felt like you needed a rope and tackle! Some really amazing scenery – and so vastly changeable – giant arid mountains, lush green terraces hand planted with wheat, rocks, rocks and more rocks, huge colour splashes of everything from dark black through to the orange red dirt. We have had lunch in the houses of some of the Berber villagers, trek through some quite remote villages and seen a lot of Donkeys. The Hotel here has been beautiful, peaceful, friendly and we have had a great time.
Off to Casablanca now and then home tomorrow – this may be the last time you will hear from me