Towards the end of our month long trip island hopping in Greece , it became apparent that we were both travel weary after moving about for 6 months. We had a one way ticket booked to Sri Lanka and then planned to travel to the Philippines , Cambodia and Thailand . We should have been really excited , but really it was exactly the opposite. Living out of a carry on back pack had taken it’s toll. So we ditched the tickets lost most of the money and headed back to blighty . Fate sometimes deals you an ACE and it just so happened that Earl the Pearl Strickland was doing an exhibition match at Lennons Snooker and Pool hall where we used to hang out in the day time. What a great night and Sean the owner gave me a slot to play One of the greatest pool players of all time … I broke ..took one shot at a quarter ball and it was over he ran the rack …. The weather was awful so we decided to book a last minute deal to Marrakech before we flew home. We stayed in a large hotel with expansive gardens right in the medina. We were looking for the old world and certainly found it in Marrakech.
As you walk through the pictured square above you pass a long line of horse drawn buggies vying for tourist dollars. Billions of flies descend on you and soon you work out to find an alternative route the next day. It sounds funny but this was exactly the experience I was looking for. The square is full of hawkers trying to get your photo taken with apes wearing fez’s and snake charmers with wailing flutes. Do not EVER have your photo taken with animals like this on your travels. They are mistreated , beaten , pitiful shells of their former selves , but this is the culture that exists in this surviving old corner of the world . Who am I to say what is right and what is wrong. Groups of men sit around under umbrella’s smoking , spitting and playing instruments without a care in the world. We walk by a small table set up with what appears to be white stones . On closer inspection it’s the local dentist … he has a some false teeth palettes and large variety of teeth he has wrestled from peoples mouths. I spy the silver tooth pulling grips and imagine the horror of the screams accompanied by the flute playing snake charmers … it would make a great scene in a movie. There is a small wooden box , I didn’t even dare to ask what was inside.. we move on quickly before he catches our perfect white smiles ..may be he is missing a few rare specimens for his ” COLLECTION”
The souks are famous here, a rat run maze of narrow covered alley ways , no street names ,no maps ,you walk in and are consumed by it. Rays of sunlight stream through small holes in the roof as you are jostled along with the flow of thousands of people. There is a sign no Motorcycles hanging ..obviously no one would ever try to ride through so many packed people in such a small narrow space. The first one nearly clips us as it hurtles down the narrow alley we jump into a shop door to avoid it.. the owner smiles and welcomes in… it’s a lamp shop with over 1000 lamps in ….. selling exactly the same lamps as the other 1000 lamp shops we pass. Out of 5000 shops we pass in the souks ..there seem to be only 5 different types . Lamps , rugs , spices , jewellery, and clothes. How do they all make a living , this is the old world where just a little tourist dollar is enough to get by on for the whole week. There is something to be said for living a ” simple life” .
We find a little Riad down a back street that serves mint tea and food. It is a sanctuary from the madness of the street outside as soon as we walked in through the door down a passage and out into the sunlit garden the noise magically disappeared. We went there everyday just for a rest from the hustle and bustle. We went back at night to find they are closed …such a shame as the tagines we saw looked amazing.
We went on a trip to the Ourika valley in the Atlas mountains to visit a traditional Berber village and climb up to the 7 waterfalls. It didn’t say in the glossy brochure that you needed to be a mountain goat to get up there. As we drove in a taxi uphill along the valley ..there are thousands of sofas by the river for people to sit and eat at … not covered up but just there where the sun breaks over the top of a steep mountain. People come here on the weekend to enjoy the river as the sea is to far away .. I suppose their version of Skegness or Blackpool. We hire a guide and start up the path to the waterfalls . We cross rickety old wooden bridges and start our ascent upwards after 1/2 an hour we are clambering over large boulders and scaling rock faces the guide pulling us up . The rock is granite but has been polished smooth by millions of visitors , luckily we got there early ,so are the first ones to go up .. Eventually we get to a place where you have to leap across the river on to a polished angled rock on the other side . We decide against it …. as we walked around Marrakech there were lots of tourist with plaster casts on their feet .. there had to be a connection to this place. We start to make our way down and are nearly at the rickety bridge and I see a woman in flip flops hobbling with a walking stick. I stop her and ask if she speaks English.. She does …. I tell her to turn right around cos she ain’t going no where .. she looks relieved and said thanks for telling me… guides will do anything for a dollar!!!!!!!
The old city was vibrant and the square at night was something to be seen. Every local that we met was friendly and we didn’t get hassled half as much as we thought we would. We found the out of the way old world we were searching for …… now back to Belize to finish the house off we started before we left … Parrots and palm trees … WE HAVE MISSED YOU !!!!!