Friday 11th Jan
11.01.2013 - 11.01.2013 22 °C
Today was a big day! Africa day! We have managed to be on 4 continents in 6 days. Up nice and early for leaving at 8.20, although we gained an hour so it wasn't too bad, I was actually up to see the dawn which was crazy! We got a private tour to Marrakesh as it was cheaper for 6 people than everyone doing the bus tours. We docked at Casablanca and I was wanting to see the mosque so we went there first (with a quick photo stop at Rick's Bar, which is the bar from Casablanca if anyone doesn't know). It was lovely with all the ceramics and right by the water. Didn't get to see the inside as the tour was too late to wait for, but seeing the outside was enough.
The drive to Marrakesh was about 3 hours. It was a very interesting drive. Casablanca is quite industrial and as you head out it is quite green for awhile, which I was quite surprised about, I was expecting it to be quite dry. As you headed south though the land got drier and redder. It was all fairly flat, although you could see mountains in the distance as you approached Marrakesh. There were little mud villages along the way which are apparently the homes of the 'Barbou' people I believe she called them. It is such a different culture and atmosphere there. During the drive I saw things like an old man riding a donkey which did not look like it should be able to support his weight, a couple of ladies carrying something on their heads which seemed so African, and a guy who would have been at most a teenager alone in the wild looking after, and even carrying, his sheep. You would never see this in Australia. The last one actually made me think of the book The Alchemist. I was disappointed I didn't manage to take a picture as we were driving too fast.
Talking about driving, holy hell is it crazy! It was less 'road rules' than 'very rough guidelines as to what you should maybe consider doing on the road if it is convenient for you'. I am very surprised that I am alive, particularly when we had to cross the road and, as the guide says, the pedestrian crossings are really just road decorations. Basically the rule is, you walk out into the middle of the road, signalling the traffic to stop and hope like hell they notice. I just stood as close to the guide as possible everytime. Two situations I found amusing whilst seriously fearing for my life were when we were at lights on a four lanes in each direction road and the guy at the very right had his left indicator on and did, indeed, cross across the four lanes and turn left within the intersection, and the other time was when there were about 3 or 4 lanes of traffic in a two lane entrance to a roundabout and then 3 of these lanes apparently led to the single lane exit. In one word, crazy!
Marrakesh was also crazy. We saw the oldest mosque of the city and then spent all the day in the square and at the markets. The square was pretty empty in the morning, particularly as we got there during lunchtime prayers, but apparently it gets packed at night. It got busier when we dropped by before we left, the food vendord had started to appear by then and the air was completely full of smoke. One thing that really hit me every time we went somewhere and came back to the sqouare was the smell! It is quite overwhelming, reminds me of the animal areas of the Royal Adelaide Show. During the day the square has lots of monkey tamers, snake charmers and fortune tellers. Also, orange juice carts. It is so cheap, like 0.50€ for a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Marrakesh apparently has tons of oranges grown there. We went to a cafe and got a drink in the afternoon so we could go to the upper balcony and have a look out over the square.
Lunch was at a local restaurant. Alicia had made some comment on the bus ride about food and then became the picky one according to the guide who kept on checking with her about whether this place was ok and did we want to come back in an hour so she could hace couscous. It was quite funny. The food was amazing, I had a beef tagine and the meat was so soft. The sauce was delicious and great to dip the bread in which was actually a bread made from eucalyptus! It was all so cheap as well, €35 for 7 people!
The afternoon was spent at the markets. They were full of ceramics and wood and metal works. We got taken to a shop where the guy gave us information on Moroccan spices and the local product, argon oil. If you believe what he says, it is pretty much the miracle cure for everything! I got a bottle of jasmine scented oil for my hair, as well as some beautiful rose scented hand cream.
There is so much lovely stuff at the markets, including a beautiful filigree lamp, but unfortunately most of it would just be too difficult to take home again. I just got a lovely little ceramic pot which I could use for storing tea. We also went to a carpet area, which was really quite funny. The man decided to give us an introduction to the typesof carpets in morroco, and proceeded to get out about 50 carpets and lie them on the ground. Then he went through every single one and asked if we liked it or not. Fortunately, Karen and Fiona got stuck with having to reply and say no to them all.
The other important event was Alicia finding true love. It comes in the most unexpected of places, a man working wood using his feet. He saw a princess and the connection was obvious, regardless of the 30 or 40 years age difference, it was the love of a lifetime. Alas, it burned too bright and it could not continue (past about 2 minutes). But he gave her a wooden pendant so she may have something to hold on to and remember this moment of love by. What does he have though? Nothing but the memory. But for him, I think, that is enough.
The drive back I slept a bit as it was dark. However, sleep was difficult as I changed my seat from the drive in, where I discovered the seat belt just came undone when I stood up so was pretty much useless, to a seat with no seat belt all together. This made it a slightly worrying journey back...
I am left slightly undecided about Morocco, it was very overwhelming! I am definitely not aggressive and pushy enough to survive there. But it was still a very interesting and enjoyable day, it is great too see the large variety of people and religions there. But exhausting as well!
Back at the boat and so full! But the dinner is so nice I can never say no! It was a beef tortellini soup, and a truffle flavoured pumpkin risotto. Nothing overly exciting happened in terms of the pjama game, I apologise to all the avid fans.