As I write this I am four hours away from completing the 22 hour journey from London to Sydney. I have just now downloaded from our camera onto my PC the almost 200 images taken during the 11 days we spent in North Africa’s Morocco. As they say a picture tells a thousand words, so I will let them tell the story mainly.
Our time in the the Muslim dominated Morocco passed quickly, but the memories of the crowded and ancients souqs, mosques with their regular call to prayer, the sugar laden glasses of mint tea, the oh so wonderful collective grand taxis and men dressed as if mimicking wizards will be sure to remain.
As is so often the case, it is only when reviewing the images that the memories are crystallised and the appreciation of the experience can be achieved. In the moment the challenges of navigating your way through a country where you speak almost none of the language, the necessity to be constantly on guard to ensure you are not being taken advantage of and the almost impossible task of making your way around cities where Arabic at best is used to signify the streets and alleys, unsurprisingly take central focus.
Throughout our time in Morocco both Elizabeth and I remained teetotal, less out of respect of Muslim culture, but more out of the desire to provide our livers with a well earned rest after the annual silly season. It was refreshing to immerse ourselves in cities virtually devoid of drunken citizens and the the rabble invariably that comes with them. Having said that, never have we been in a place where we have seen so many fights and torrid arguments often between the young and the old. The old adage that you should respect your elders definitely seemed absent in Morocco, perhaps brought about by the fact that thirty percent of the population is under the age of 15 (I need to check this stat). Unfortunately we can’t understand Moroccan Arabic (a mix of French and Arabic from what we could gather) so couldn’t garner a full understanding what the barneys were about; however, the repeated occurrence of blow ups within the narrow aisles of buses were entertaining to say the least.
Highlights of the trip included a mind-boggling kinesthetic massage on the tiled floor of a steam filled hamman from a rather large Moroccan gent who took pleasure in cracking every bone in my body – bet you didn’t realise you can crack the bones in your ears – and a night of conversation with a Berber who was born in a tent high up in the mountains. Though without a doubt the best part of the trip was being reminded that the sky is indeed blue and that the sun’s restorative warmth is not truly realised until it is sucked away in a London winter.
24-27 Dec – Marrakech
27 Dec – Travel to Ait Ben Haddou
28 Dec – Travel to Todra Gorgre
29 Dec – Trekking in Todra Gorge, before travel to Midelt
30 Dec – Travel from Midelt to Fes
30 Dec – 1 Jan – Fes
1 Jan – 2 Jan Travel to Essaouira
2 Jan – Essaouira
3 Jan – Essaouira, before return travel to Marrakech
4 Jan – Travel Marrakech to London
Big Square in Marrakech
Main mosque of Marrakech – Kotoubia
Spice market in Marrakech
The door to our riad (traditional Moroccan home) in Marrakech
Snake charmers in the big square Marrakech
The magical kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou
Medieval dye pits still used to this day to dye leather in Fes
Pretty self explanatory really