Wow – so thanks to a major brush with the WordPress white screen of death, I now have three summer holidays to catch you up on!
Firstly, let’s get back to Marrakech…
@The_Tellergram: So as previously mentioned, me and my girls went to Marrakech – my sixth visit in 10 years, but it never grows old. The sights, the sounds, the hustle, the bustle, the souks (my little niece Kayla was an absolute pro, proudly haggling herself an assortment of wooden knick-knacks for free), the hammams, the tagines, the architecture – I LOVE IT!!!
But be warned – this town is not for the faint-hearted: it’s quite an assault on the senses. You’re in Africa but it looks like you’re in the Middle East and everyone’s speaking in French whilst trying to sell you sh*t and run you over with their mopeds – it might take a minute to wrap your head around it all! : ) But you can always retreat to the sanctuary of your resort or riad.
@Bald_Font: So I finally took my baby outside Europe! The Tellergram and I took her to the motherland: we hit AFRICA! And Morocco treated us very well. It only took 27.5 conversations to convince my sister that when travelling with an eight-year-old, all-inclusive isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity, and readily available entertainment is a must – but we got there in the end, thank the universe!!!
We had a marvellous time trotting along behind my well-seasoned traveller sister, soaking up the sun and living the touristy dream outside of the gated hotel walls… and we had just as good a time eating aaaallll the food and drinking aaaalllll the Moroccan mint tea within them. The baby said she loved it and we should definitely go back – but unfortunately could not give the holiday a five-star rating due to the overfriendly flies that insisted on joining us in the dining hall for every single meal! So four stars it is.
@The_Tellergram: Here are a couple of piccies from Jemaa el-Fnaa square in the medina of Marrakech (the old town). Now, I do feel the need to add a bit of a disclaimer here as some of these images recently caused a bit of a stir on Instagram (and with one rather judgemental, sanctimonious know-it-all in particular, who shall remain handle-less). Please note: we didn’t so much ‘ask’ for photos with the monkeys as happen to glance in their direction for more than 0.5 seconds. Then they were practically thrown at my girls, like: “Hey – catch!”
These guys are there to make money and they’re pretty persistent – any form of eye contact is a green light. You may well end up not so much paying to have your pictures taken with the monkeys as paying to have them removed. And yes yes yes – I know they should be frolicking in the wild where they belong. So should your dog, and your family bucket of KFC (hey, we can all get a little selective about this kind of thing: bet you won’t be grasping for the Kleenex when you run into some of the other not-so-cute-looking creatures in the square).
But where else in the world could you be wandering through the market, minding your own beeswax – and then suddenly have a bunch of wild animals flung on your chest?! It’s certainly never happened in Tooting – I LOVE THIS PLACE!!! : )
@Bald_Font: If it’s not a monkey on a string being dashed in your direction for some cold hard cash, it’s a man reaching into his robe to show you his snake. An actual snake, just to be clear. But just as scary – if not more so. And what’s under that pretty little basket there – food? Jewellery? Spices, perhaps? Oh, it’s a Cobra – ta-daaaaa!!! Welcome to the Jungle, aka The Square!
And whilst you’re busy having mini heart attacks running from the animals and their captors alike, you’ll also be stalked by a different type of predator; one who’s been watching from afar to see just how much you have in that there foreigner’s purse of yours: enter the persistent beggar.
At first he hobbles over slowly, hand out and needy, and you feel a little pang in your chest as you quickly shove your purse back in your bumbag and hurry along to the next stall. But as you turn back to make sure he’s faded out of view, you spot him power-walking – stick and all – right behind you! So you up it to a slow jog, bust a few corners just to make sure, stop to buy a celebratory smoothie and – BOOM! Who’s that in your peripheral? Le Beggar Man!!! How did he even find us?!? Don’t get this kind of magic in London Town, no sirree! You get to shop in Wilko’s in peace.
@The_Tellergram: We even managed a day trip to Essaouira – the other windy city – thanks to a passing comment to a cabbie, who then mentioned that it was just a few hours from Marrakech and ended up driving us there himself (I’d always thought you’d have to fly there!).
The beach wasn’t all that – the sea definitely had a touch of Bognor about it – but it is sandy, if you like that kind of sand (the super-fine kind that manages to get into your eyes, ears, nostrils, teeth, and a whole other bunch of nooks and crannies you didn’t even know you had, thanks to that persistent breeze). And the town was very pretty, with lots of little alleyways and whitewashed buildings with blue accents… kinda Greek-looking, actually, come to think of it, and there’s a nice castle with a fort and stuff…
But should you come across a large, grinning guide called Ahmed (the man in white pictured above), be certain that he will charge you one price at the start of your tour, and then cheerily triple it at the end, stating that the original quote was actually “per person”, bleeping bleepity-BLEEP BLEEEEP!
@Bald_Font: As we bundled in to the cab I pulled out the book I’d packed especially for the three-hour drive – proper adulting and that, you know… and 30 minutes later we were all out cold! After sleeping for what felt like a year and a half I opened my eyes to find that we were definitely nowhere near the sea and speeding – quite literally – down the highway.
But because I’m adulting now, I resisted the urge to say: “Are we nearly there yet?” Instead, I intended to go right back to sleep and simply ignore the fact that Rasheed (our cabbie) was doing 100mph and overtaking vehicles in the wrong lane. Seatbelts aren’t compulsory, according Rasheed – the same Rasheed who got stopped by the police TWICE for driving over the limit on our way home – but he was lovely all the same.
Anyhoo, on my mission to get back to sleep, I turned to get comfy in my chair and glanced through the window to see if I could catch a sliver of ocean – only to be confronted by… goats… IN A TREE!!! So obviously, I start screaming “GOOOOATS!!!” at everyone because OMGEEE, GOATS!!!! – and to my surprise, Speedy Gon-Rasheed slowed down and pulled up next to… ANOTHER tree adorned with YET MORE GOATS! Big, fat, grown-up goats, happily chilling on the thinnest of branches at the top of the trees, munching away on Argan berries.
@The_Tellergram: That’s right, ladies and gentlemen; DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SETS. These pictures are undoctored and unfiltered. If Mr Twit had smeared glue on these branches in southwest Morocco, he’d have been having goat pie for dinner!
Now you probably don’t want to know this, but the best-quality argan oil is actually the result of these tree-climbing snack-munchers, who eat the berries and poop out the seeds – which are then gathered up and pressed for the oil. That’s right – premium argan oil comes from goat poop. Remember that next time you’re slathering some all over your face. Haha! : )
@Bald_Font: So we all jumped out and headed down the steep embankment and as I stared in awe at this goaty version of the Northern Lights – BOOM! A baby goat was thrust into my arms. “Take picture with my goat!!!” came the cry – ‘twas the square all over again! Only this time, I was ready: Rasheed had equipped us with survival skills.
So I took my photo with the goat. In fact, I took several – I even asked the goat man to take some photos of all three of us under the magical tree of goats and then as I gave him back his baby goat, I crossed his palm with – COINS. Hah!!! Rasheed had already told us exactly how much we should pay. Expecting paper money, the goat man was highly unimpressed – but before he could guilt-trip us into giving him any more, we scrambled back up the embankment and jumped into our speedy getaway cab.
Godspeed, Rasheed – Godspeed. : D
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