The Cheeky Seventh Continent
Marrakech Travel Blog› entry 97 of 98 › view all entries
OK, when I say ‘cheeky’ well before I get any grief, so I tagged on this stopover to Morocco so that I could complete my mission of setting foot on all seven continents in one single trip <swiftly ducks for cover>. The 30 Euro Easyjet flight Madrid to Marrakesh was way too tempting, would have been rude not to right? Anyway, I have always wanted to visit Morocco and thought it would give me a couple of days to recover from any cross-Atlantic jetlag and arrive back home nice and fresh so there you go! I arrived into Madrid feeling exhausted, my thirst for adventure, my adrenaline levels, seemed to have been sapped on leaving South America and after a year away was craving home comforts. Home oh yes home. A night in my own bed would have been absolute lush at this point.
From the clean, safe, English speaking (weird!) Easyjet plane, my first glimpse of the African continent, then the snowy peaks of the Atlas mountains surrounding beautiful Marrakesh was enough to bring me back on form, I MADE IT CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I HAVE GONE ALL AROUND THE WORLD ON MY OWN AND AM ARRIVING INTO CONTINENT SEVEN. The excitement, the glow, the grin on my face, that special feeling of having achieved my dreams, this stayed with me for the next couple of days I was in Marrakesh and way beyond, I hope for the rest of my life. The owner of the riad I had booked into, Said, was waiting to pick me up at the airport. He must have thought I was a bit strange, I was so full of beans, so excited to be here BRING IT ON!!! It was dusk as we drove through the medina (old town) of Marrakesh to the riad and so incredibly different from anywhere I had been on this journey.
Firstly though, a much needed rest at the riad. A riad is a tradition Moroccan house with rooms designed around a decorative interior ‘garden’. The cozy riad where I stayed was off a tiny street next to the city walls with a traditional tiled plunge pool in the main courtyard. Said showed me up to the rooftop terrace with its little tiled tables and candles, just as the evening prayer calls started across the city from the many surrounding mosques.
Happy happy happy, did I tell you I just travelled all round the world? Me, just me, with this little bag, full of essentials, very few material possessions. I survived Asia, Australasia, US, South America, Antarctica and now what about this place? Breakfast had been laid out for me in my own very elaborate dining room downstairs and I was pondering, considering if it really would be wrong to ask for a glass of champagne with my breakfast when an old geezer intruded into ‘my room’ and burst my illusion! I had survived the world but I was about to experience this excruciatingly cringe, awkward, ‘encounter’ with this very dangerous variety of ‘old french lusty doctor away on business who fancies his chances’.
Crisis averted, I set off to explore Marrakesh. I really was back in my element with the exotic sights, sounds and smells that were so different to South America where I had just spent nearly four months. I found a café opposite the Koutoubia mosque and took it all in. It was a beautiful spring-like sunny day, maybe a bit chilly but perfect for exploring the city on foot. The immediate thing that struck me was how touristy Marrakesh was compared to anywhere I had been for a while The café was maybe half full of foreign visitors and the locals were generally ready to pounce with some scam or another. One small girl approached me while I was taking photos outside the Koutoubia mosque and when I refused to pay her for taking photos she pushed me! Charming! I can understand a little bit of resentment here towards the hordes of tourists though.
I was determined not to fall for these scams, feeling maybe a little smug at having survived the year of travelling! You can imagine then how I felt when a guy dressed in robes approached me in the square, placed a snake round my neck and demanded money for a photo! ‘Get this thing off me NOW’ ‘I take photo of you?’ ‘NO GET IT OFF ME, I DO NOT WANT PHOTO GET IT?’
‘haha lady you are scared of snake haha’.
After a wonderful chicken and apricot tagine for lunch, I braved the souks.
My final sunset of my round the world trip was experienced on the roof of the riad, the medina, the Atlas mountains, the prayer call, watching nesting storks feed their young on the city walls. I joined Warren and Lenka for the mother of all couscous, washed down with a cold beer. Lovely couple, here on a holiday from England, I was happy to have some nice company to round off my trip. We sat on the rooftop terrace and got a little merry on some whisky while we did a bit of star gazing. Well, you know by now that I love a good clear night and bright stars and here, although not quite lake Tekapo standard (NZ) was pretty amazing.
Final Entry Coming up soon – Strange feelings on returning to England after a year away!!