Friday, 21 December 2012

Marrakech madness


Tuesday 18th


Even before we started winding upwards
we got an inkling of what
we were in for!


A strange photo but if you look through
the side window you can just see the road snaking
 downwards along the hair pin bends below.
Tizi-n-Tichka pass day over the High Atlas. Hairy especially when local truck drivers drive faster than the speed of light even on hair pin blind bends! Just when you think it isn't possible to climb any further, the road dips, lulls you into a false sense of security and then climbs again. The scenery changes as you pass, green rock and sediment, rich red soil, flashes of white from the snow and the quartz, little oases with palm trees and fertile strips of crops, traditional terracotta berber mud houses perched precariously on steep hillsides, the ever present hawkers by the sides of the road in the unlikeliest of places, how on earth they think you are going to manage to stop and park safely on these bends I haven't a clue. Once over the top, the scenery becomes much more lush and green, forested hillsides and even redder fertile soil. Gradually this gives way to urban sprawl, the traffic increases and you realize you are heading for a very large city.
Pastures green and red on the other side
We had a briefing at the campsite as dusk was falling and Steve brought out 7 litres of goodness knows what. We were told to bring a notebook and pen and a glass. After telling us first how to get out of the country and which paperwork to hand to whom, he then went on to explain the activities for the next couple of days. Basically there is a mini bus service into Marrakech which we could arrange with the driver. Various tours were offered but after the whistle stop tour of Fes when we went at such a speed it was impossible to look at anything, no one signed up for it. We then partook of the “Hooch”. It was quite vile to be honest, a local brew he had picked up in a village on the pass. It looked like red wine but certainly didn't taste like it. But after a few sips, we were all quite merry and it turned into an amusing evening. We were to have a formal end of tour meal together in Marrakech the next night.

We went into town on the minibus at 4pm so that we had a chance to look around in the daylight before the meal....what a place...it is insane! After spending an hour wandering around getting lost, Nigel and I eventually found the Riad we are to stay at over Christmas with Ric and Aoife but not sure if the dogs will end up with all their legs intact after braving the walk through the souks to get there avoiding scooters, bikes, donkeys, handcarts, tradesmen trying to drag you into their shops/stalls.


Looking down on the square of Djemma - el- Fna
from our rooftop restaurant.


We were glad to get back on the minibus after the meal and head back to the comfort, warmth and cosiness of our motorhomes. Steve left for the drive back to Spain when we got back, we were all sad to say goodbye and now we will have to look after ourselves as our comfort blanket has gone! Everyone else is leaving tomorrow morning except us.
We had another foray into town thismorning to do some shopping at a government shop where everything is a fixed price and you can look, pick things up etc and no bargaining or hard sell. It was an amazing place, like a huge department store but jam packed with everything you could think of. Much the same as the “tat” in the souks but better quality. We had lunch after in a rooftop restaurant and then had an unsuccessful attempt to buy a Maroc Dongle....it being Friday afternoon, all the outlets were closed. Luckily there is wifi at the campsite but it is not very reliable, hence the inability to load photos.
So tomorrow Ric, Aoife and Emer arrive. They should be at the riad about midday so we have arranged for a mini bus ride from here at noon, with dogs, dog bedding, dog food, all our clothes, computers etc and warm clothes for me for a week in the UK over New Year.

Should be an interesting journey!

Extra photos below......


End of tour meal, Cafe France

Mind the tree! It was actually 
being transported in the truck!



This road takes no prisoners

Looking down the hairpins


Contrasting green and lush scenery the other side
Narrow alleyway towards our Riad



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