Si and Cathy 's HomeMorrocoMarrakesh and around
|We arrived into Marrakesh knowing that our first hurdle would be getting to the hotel without being fleeced. The haggling for a taxi started at Dh120 (8 pounds) and ended with us getting one for Dh50 (under 4 pounds). It did require getting in and then out of 3 taxis before one took us and being chased by a huge number of men each time we started to walk away.
We spent a day in Marrakesh before heading out on a three day tour to the desert via the Atlas mountains. The tour was fantastic and gave us an opportunity to see real Moroccan life so much more than we could in Marrakesh. There were 13 on the tour including Japanese, Korean, German, Scottish, Australian, Swedish, and us. We’re all feeling pretty lucky to be alive though, as Morocco hasn’t really developed ways of ensuring tour operators are operating safely. We were in a van that overheated every couple of hours, our driver didn’t know anything other than foot flat to the floor, he drove back for 12 hours straight (with foot flat to the floor over 2300m mountains) and to top it off, every time I opened the window for some fresh air all I could smell was the burning brakes!!! Even Simon was having visions of us sailing off the side of the mountain.
Once back in Marrakesh we were privileged to be invited to dinner by John (the Scottish guy on our tour) and his girlfriend (who was born in Morocco) to have a traditional Moroccan dinner cooked by friends of theirs who live in Marrakesh. To have a home cooked Tagine prepared freshly was superb and to have the opportunity to meet local people who have spent their lives in Marrakesh was fantastic. While back we also had another go at getting to grips with Marrakesh and went and had a good look in the souqs and around the rest of the city. Fortunately, we found very little that we felt we had to buy (that was probably because we had already bought a rather large rug on the tour).
After a couple of days in Marrakesh, we headed to Essaouira on a local bus….. what an eye-opener. Before we even got under way we had to endure the seemingly endless stream of traders and beggars who walk through the buses before they depart. The bus then took many attempts to get on the road as people kept banging on the doors to be let on and then just as I thought we were on our way we pull into the gas station to gas up. What a hoot. We spent the afternoon in Essaouira with John and then caught another bus through to Agadir while John headed back to Marrakesh. Turned out that this bus was not much better than the first one we caught. Every time we went around a right had corner there was an enormous clunk. Si gave it the benefit of the doubt and said it was luggage rolling around but I’m not convinced. We based ourselves in Agadir for 2 nights and from there headed down to the Souss-Massa National Park. The idea was to see flamingos but unfortunately there weren’t any there. We did see other birdlife though and it was just lovely to have a walk where there were no tourists. As we were walking back two little boys passed us going the other way on their donkey. About 20 minutes later we heard clip clop coming up behind us. Once they had caught up with us they walked along beside us until we got the camera out when they immediately moved so that they were in the picture. They were gorgeous kids and were so stoked to get Dh2 each and a look at the photo on the digital camera.
The people (especially the kids) in Morocco stole the show for me. We have wonderful stories similar to the one above where kids in the country were willing to work hard for very little reward (in our eyes). In Marrakesh people have become very pushy and greedy, probably because of Easy Jet bringing in so many people that just go to shop and don’t stop to think about the culture and what is going on outside of Marrakesh. The poverty was evident everywhere we went especially on the edges of the cities. They seem to manage though, and in the country the kids were happy with whatever you gave them………well most of the time. We always gave them a little more than what they asked for especially if they had done something to earn it like polish our shoes etc. The only time I was told off by a little boy was when in the Todra Gorge. A little boy came up with a camel woven out of flax and said “a present for you madam”. I thought it a bit weird but said “thank you”. The next second he said “A present for me madam?” and I thought, here we go. So I gave him Dh2, as I had just seen Simon pay the same for one and his little boy looked happy. Anyway, my one said to me “No madam, no”. In the end I had to give him back the camel and he still kept the Dh2, so he hadn’t done too badly.
After nine days we were pretty happy to get home. It’s a very dry, dusty country and it was hard to feel clean. It was also pretty hard work in respect of the constant demands to buy stuff from people. But over all a great break away.
Locations Visited: Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Skoura, Zagora, Tinghir, Merzouga, Marrakech, Essaouira, Agadair, Tiznit, Agadair, Marrakesh
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