After leaving Casablanca we noticed a big change in the scenery as we left the coastline and moved inland. From palm trees and greenery to various shades of sandy brown with no trees and small shrubs. We were headed towards the desert. We had the windows down with the warm air blowing in our hair (well... Mine anyway) and keeping us nice and cool. With our arms hanging out of the window with the sun beating down on our white English skin, while waving them up and down in the wind as if a dolphin jumping in and out of the water. We drove for miles as we watched the scenery change and we watched the roads disappeared into the far away horizon. This was the life and felt like we were totally free with world as our oyster!
We soon arrived into Marrakech with the welcoming of finished, beautiful burnt orange apartment buildings and well kept bushes decorating the sidewalks. This was different to what we had seen throughout Morocco. We continued through the hustle and bustle of the traffic in search of our first campsite to check out. We had seen a sign and went for it. We drove down a very bumpy almost untarred road which seemed like it was leading to nowhere. Rubbish on the sides of the roads and unfinished buildings began to reappear. I got a sense that this place would be very likely not to offer hot showers, or any for that matter. We arrived and pulled up, as we went to the reception we noticed a pool! Oh my gosh, we were in luck. This place looked amazing. The gentlemen said it would be 90dirhams a night with wifi, hot showers and free access to the pool. What? He must have been joking, £6 and all that!? We were in paradise! (http://www.hotel-lerelaisdemarrakech.com)
We decided we would veg out by the pool the next day and just chill out! Just what the doctor ordered. What a fantastic day!
We enquired about a taxi into Marrakech and would go and see the craziness I had read about in Djemma el-Fna. We loved travelling by taxi as it was always an adventure, so we decided to spend the morning vegging by the pool and would catch the taxi at 3pm. We were told Marrakech comes alive after sunset. It was 90dirhams one way and as per normal a battered old Mercedes turned up with even more problems than the ones we had travelled in before. Seats with springs in them that you could feel right to the bone, front dash obviously out of order as almost blacked out, and all sorts of noises that it shouldn't have. This was Africa after all. He said to us he would pick us up at 8:30 and to watch out for the number of his taxi, 1506. And off he went after saying we could pay when he collected us. Wow... So trusting!
We were surprised to walk through a very quiet medina, nothing like we experienced in Fes while weaving in and out of the crowds. Later we noticed they started setting up stalls where the food would be displayed in the evening. So we found a roof terrace where we could order some mint teas and coffee while watching the stalls being assembled. People watching from this point was amazing as we quite obviously picked out which were locals, hotel goers, and back packers by their dress.
It was now almost 5:30 so we headed back into the medina to start choosing between food and which stalls we would be going to for our dinner. I had read to always go to stalls where there was lots of people to avoid getting any tummy bugs the next morning.
As we entered the food area we had men in all directions who had some serious selling talents. They would try to convince us that their stall was the best and offered a more superior selection of meat and fish. After finding out that we were from Enland they started reeling off lines from Only Fools and Horses and using Cockney rhyming slang. Rob and Charles towed in the back while they were told "Happy wife, happy life", so the focus was on Cat and myself; using an English accent they said theirs was the 'bloody best'... This was crazy and we tried to get them off of our backs while in stitches of laugher. They were hilarious and had done their English homework!
After regrouping we went in for the slaughter one more time and chose a stall with the most people. We had a mixture of Moroccan foods which we all shared. Breads, olives, couscous, meat on skewers and vegetables, it was absolutely gorgeous. As we sat there we watched as they tried to entice one group of people after another, it was like having dinner and a show. These guys knew what they were doing and were supper skilled.
We headed back into the chaos which had decended in over the course of the late afternoon, with a stroll in the medina before the taxi came to collect us. We watched jugglers, snake charmers, musicians, acrobats and spectators fill the space that once was. We had about an hour and a half to kill, so we aimlessly wandered the streets until eventually we had no idea where we were. We were lost!
This of course was the beauty of these medina's as the small alleyways winded in and out of each other, making it very easy to forget where you had come from. We obviously looked like lost tourists and a man came over to say he was headed to the centre and we should follow him. Very sceptical as always, we had learnt that the Moroccans do nothing for free, so we followed him reluctantly hoping he wouldn't ask for anything. Finally we were starting to recognise where we were. And of course, as expected, he turned around and said 'something for me?'. This time we thanked him for his help but said we had nothing to give. He said we were welcome in his country and went on his way. Were we finally figuring out the name of the game? Success!!
As we liked this camp site so much we decided to stay for two more days relaxing by the pool! It's such a hard life here in Morocco!
Just before leaving we had great advice from French travellers that have come from a few countries we'll soon be visiting. They gave us contact details for fixers we may need with local knowledge. All of this while offering us whiskey, beer, and snacks. What a treat, from lovely people!