Involuntary Detox...

Marrakech Travel Blog

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Hi, my name is Sarah.. It’s been 2 weeks since my last drink… Apparently alcohol is not, ummm, permitted in Morocco. And yet they walk around the streets smoking weed... Hmmm...

So, as I was saying… We left from Fes on our way to Rabat. If you know Morocco at all, it might sound like a roundabout way to do things, but I planned it all to avoid really long bus trips in the heat... Anyway, it worked out well like it always does when I do the planning (who ever said OCD was a bad thing…!)

Got to Rabat in the afternoon, no map, no clue what way to head, all we really knew was that we were about 5 kms out of town. So, hopped in a petite taxi and luckily he knew where to go, dropped us right outside the youth hostel. By this time we had seen 3 cities already, and were starting to think that even though each had it’s own unique feel and it’s individual qualities, they all kinda look the same with the red brick medina walls and the stalls everywhere you turn. Not that market stalls are a bad thing, man, I could still spend months and months just wandering around markets! Nothing ever changes…

So, checked into the hostel only to discover that not only do they not have our reservation, but they don’t have our deposit either… Grrrrr…

But the hostel was really social, there were actually a few other backpackers there which was cool, after a week in Africa it feels like a while since we saw other travellers!!! Went for a walk around the Medina, mostly on a mission to find some dinner, and when we finally found a nice cheap restaurant full of locals, what do they do? As usual, they lead us up to another room upstairs where we’re only sitting with foreigners. Ugh. All we want to do is sit and eat like everyone else in the normal rooms where you can see all the people and everything going on around us, not be tucked away in a room where you get special treatment cos you’re not from round here. Ugh. Oh well. Life goes on I guess. At least you get free olives in the tourist rooms!

The next day we did the whirlwind tour again, eh, who needs a map, I just took a picture of the map on the wall at the hostel, that got us through. Went on a mission to find the Royal Palace which is on the tourist map photo, but little did we know that after searching for over an hour and finally finding it, the palace is definitely there but is not open to the public, so all we really saw were some really high fences and lots of armed guards… Oh well. That brought us to the Chellah, which was one reputed to be the most beautiful place on earth. Apparently. It was a nice place, beautiful gardens and some (more) Roman ruins. Who would’ve thought, Roman ruins in Africa!!!

Saw the Hassan II Mosque, which is the third largest Mosque in the world, although being a woman and non Muslim I couldn’t go inside. And then finally made it to La Qasbah Des Oudayas which has an amazing lookout over the coastline. It was another days of lots of walking, walking, walking, but at least it’s nice to have some sunlight to stroll around in after the manic weather I’ve been through. Absolutely exhausted after the non stopedness (yes, I know that’s not a real word, but it is now) of my travels, completely slumped at the hostel for the evening watching the same Family Guy (or i-Griffin in Italian!) DVD again preparing for the next big trek that I’ve been looking forward to soooooooo much: Marrakech.

I don’t know where to start… I guess that the first thing that I noticed as the bus drove through Marrakech was the tourists. They were everywhere. And they were loud!

The second thing I noticed was the markets. Endless market stalls in every direction. Now, those who know me well enough will know that this has the potential to end my short life - the excitement nearly caused a heart attack!!!

When we got off the bus we were miles from the Medina, so we went to get a petite taxi and got mauled by the drivers (who tried to charge us about 10 times the price… Grrrr…) But anyway, I bargained them down to a fair price and we headed off. I had given the driver the address, and after about 10 minutes he asked us again where we were going. Of course he didn’t know. Didn’t know where the street was, didn’t know which side of town to go to… Aaaargh. So eventually, he takes us to a hotel where he knows a guy who speaks better English than him, and I have to go in there and give him the address so that he can figure it out. Then they try to convince me that this is a better hotel than the one that we’ve booked (that they still don’t know how to get to…) but eventually we left and he dropped us outside the Medina walls because he’s not allowed to drive inside. The Medina is huge. Massive. Gigantic. Colossal. And it’s all tiny little winding streets, in and out and around in circles. So, this time we’re smart enough to have a map. Kinda. Our map doesn’t have any street names, so it was actually pretty useless. So we’re walking and walking and walking, and getting exhausted by the fact that we don’t have a clue which direction to head. Eventually we resigned to the fact that we were probably going to sleep on the streets holding onto our luggage for dear life since we’re never going to find the place, and we may never even find our way out of the Medina at this rate.

We had to give in and let a local guy lead the way, then pay him for his time, but it was worth it just to be able to get there and put our stuff down. The hostel was actually really nice, clean, and the people were friendly. They even supplied toilet paper (woohoo) and had hot water (double woohoo)!!!

We headed out straight away to wander around and find a cheap meal. There’s a fantastic square that absolutely comes to life at night… I was in heaven going from circle to circle watching snake charmers, story tellers, actors and musicians, acrobats, monkeys and donkeys. They were absolutely amazing, and they’re surrounded by endless rows of spice stands and orange juice stalls, the whole atmosphere completely sucks you in. And then there’s the pickpockets.

They’re everywhere and they’re shameless. You can see them coming a mile away, they always travel in pairs, and it’s generally 2 young guys. One would come up and distract Justin and then the other would try to get in my pockets. The funniest was the last night that we were there and we were hanging out in the main square… One guy came up and wouldn’t leave Justin alone, kept trying to talk to him and distract him, and his friend came up and gave me the full airport frisk. He was a terrible pickpocket, definitely needs some practice if he wants to get away with it! I was intentionally wearing pants that don’t have any pockets, and he was putting in so much effort so obviously searching for the pockets that I was far too entertained, and instead of my initial reaction of throwing an elbow into his jaw, I turned and laughed at him and told him he was wasting his time. He was mortified and they took off really quickly, and we saw them again later out in the street and laughed in their faces. Dodgy teenage boys tryin to be thugs! They pretended to be tough and puff their chests out for a second but then they pretty much ran away!

So anyway, found some food the first night and hung out round the town trying to orient ourselves a little so that we could go and lose ourselves in the maze the next day.

Pretty much the whole time in Marrakech was spent walking around and around the Djemaa Al Fna just staring in awe at everything, and drinking more fresh orange juice than I could keep track of. There’s stalls and stalls lined up in the square and it’s cheaper than water. I could have happily gotten completely lost in those streets for weeks, there is just so much to see.

Oooh… I had a snake around my neck, patted a donkey and had little baby monkeys climbing all over me… Fun, fun, fun!

Everything is pretty cheap, so we would get a table on a rooftop terrace for lunch and just watch the town below, I am sooo going back there one day. Being our last stop I Morocco, I did loads of shopping, you can get the coolest stuff there. Another big box posted home… When I get home it’s gonna be like Christmas opening up all the boxes to find all the stuff that I’ve forgotten about sending! I think that this was box number 5!

Anyway, I’m severely rambling because I’ve had far too much caffeine and am trying desperately to catch up on all of these blogs, so I’ll make it quick.

When we were finally ready to leave Marrakech (sadly) had a really early flight, so went to the square for one last juice (or 2!) before finding a petite taxi to take us to the airport. Checked in for the flight ok and wandered around duty free trying not to spend too much money. When it was time to board there was no plane in sight, turns out it’s randomly ridiculously foggy and no planes have been able to come or go for hours. I think that we were stuck there for about 6 hours waiting for the fog to clear before we were finally on our way to Paris. So, see you there.



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photo by: sweetet