Sun 6 Sep 2009 18:54
Gibralter to Morocco
A long day, a walk from Gibralter to a Spanish bus-stop and on to the ferry (three of which were cancelled - I think they wait until enough tickests have been sold!) and across to Tangier.
A walk, a taxi ride and two slow trains (they all do all the stops) to Marrakesh.
No seats on the second train, but a kind local man shared his high suitcase as a seat with Caroline.
Marrakesh with Souks, Mosquea and the Djeema el Fna (storytellers, orange juice sellers and acrobats): all exotic and full of life.
(Photo 035 shows a game of hoopla with sticks in Djeema el Fna square)
We both had a Hammam - basically a wet sauna and a scrub all over with a kiis (basically a sandpaper coated flannel), finishing with a massage - a small piece of material is used to cover the no-go area on your front - Caroline's was tiny - not much of an area at all - Murray's much bigger.
Hired a car, drove over the Atlas Mountains (cautiously). The views stupendous (Photo 49 is an example), but lots of landslides. Ouarzazate film studios where films such as Lawrence of Arabis and Gladiator were shot to Skoura Oasis (position marked). Maison d'Hotes Dar Lorkum was an oasis within an oasis, located deep in the palmery. Run by a French couple, superb traditional tagine, served, local wedding singers provided a musical treat.
Kasbahs everywhere that are magnificent looking, but made of just mud and straw, often left to fall down.
On to the steep Touda gorge and Midelt. No food all day as Ramadan in full flow and all restaurants closed (Photo 31 is the last prayer session at the biggest mosque in Marrakesh). Unfortunately in Midelt restaurants don't even open after 8pm. Had lollipop sweets, nuts and crisps for tea in our hotel room. Only road out closed but a garage gave directions (and we followed a bus the garage said was going our way). After many turns including a farmers field gravel path we were back on the main road.
Moroccan drivers are very very considerate. This means that big slow lorries pull over on the narrow hair pin bends to let you pass and got very confused when you didn't.
Caroline got pulled over at a police checkpoint. Sadly a lack of common language led to being waved on instead of an on the spot speeding fine.
And so through Morocco to Fes. Parked the car, found hotel. Caroline went to get the car back not knowing they have illegal car park attendants who demand money from you or rip your wing mirrors off. Unfortunately Murray had the money at the hotel and Caz was in the car alone with this bloke stopping her from driving off and getting really violent. Then a local man came up, asked what was going on and once she had explained stepped between the car and the attendant, shouting "Go, go", which she did! Phew!
Warning to all females, the sexual harrassment was horrendous and unspeakable.
There seems to be two types of men, one respectful, kind and charming, the other abusive, rude and beggarly.
This country is an experience.