Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Marrakech Express

After 2 bus rides, a taxi, another bus ride, followed by another taxi, then another bus ride followed by a flight, then, a long wait in an airport then another flight followed by another taxi Kate and I found ourselves in Morocco, and what a pleasent surprise it is. Even the endlessly annoying touts have been a breath of fresh air after South America. The Moroccans really put the Spanish to shame. Their architecture, style and design really bring home the uncreativeness of the Spanish. Considering the Spanish had 300 years of Moorish influence there really is no excuse. In Morocco where there is beautiffuly carved wooden doors and wonderful ceramic tiles, in Latin America there is a plastic chair and the ubiquitous plaza de armas. It's the third time for me here and seems to be a lot more relaxed than other visits. Progressive new king Mohammed has done away with daddy's harem and introduced a whole host of reforms including the penalty of jail for any touts who harass tourists too much. The result is a comparitively peaceful walk through the Bazaar. We flew into Marrakech, and the centre piece of the city is the Djenna El Fna which is a huge square filled with every kind of busker possible. (with the exception thank god of any human statues). Snake charmers, storytellers, acrobats, musicians, monkey handlers, witchdoctors, dentists, tourists and the occasional woman. It all makes for a very noisy concoction of Moroccan mayhem. They also set up rows of delicious foodstalls with fried eggplant, kebabs, tajine and mint tea. After the Americas, the food here is to die for. After a couple of days in Marrakech, Fatima and I headed off to the Atlas mountains for a little camel safari and more. Firstly we headed out to Ouzzazarte ( pronounced wazzazarty) scene of some scenes from Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia amongst othersMost of the buildings out here are made of mud brick in the shape of a Casbah which means fortress. Our group did inded Rock the Casbah and consisted of a couple of Italians, Singaporeans, Americans, and a CanadianThe highlight was camel riding in the sahara up near the Algerian border at a place called Merzouga. We slept in tents banged some drums and counted shooting stars whilst drinking berber whiskey (mint tea). Life isn' t too bad at the moment

After the tour we set off for Essaouira a laid back Morrocan ex hippy town on the coast. Jimi Hendrix wrote Castles in the sand here and one can hear the ubiquitous whisper of hashish upon strolling the narow alleyways. We've got ourselves a little apartment and are taking some R and R before our flight to London on Saturday, probably loaded up with way too many Morrocan handicrafts. Bring it on Mustapha

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