Thursday, December 24, 2009

Marrakesh at last

We finally arrived in Marrakesh this afternoon after a five hour drive through some spectacular scenery in the mountains. The roads were a motorcyclists dream. We climbed and climbed, passed trucks on switchbacks, twisting and turning the whole way. The scenery was amazing with the red rocks of the mountains changing to sand and then purple. Peeking between the mountains we could see the snow on the high Atlas Mountains. There were sheep on sheer cliffs with the shepherds and of course everywhere we passed the donkeys carrying goods to market. As we came in to the valleys there would be lots of palm trees and agave cactus. This is important in Morocco as they weave s type of silk from the agave. No matter how high up we were we would pass the little cafes in the middle of nowhere with the men all sitting outside drinking their coffee.

There are road markers every mile so it seems to take even longer to get somewhere as you count down the kilometers one by one but finally we reached Marrakesh and with the excellent directions of Daniel from the riad we found the hotel with very little bother. It is right beside the palace and a few minutes from the medina. It certainly is an oasis of calm in a city that is almost indescribable. The roads are narrow with scooters, motobicyclettes, bicycles, people jostling, horses and carts all whizzing by. Pollution control is unheard of and there is that horrible diesel fuel smell. It is noisy and busy.

W e had a short trip to the medina this afternoon. In the square before you enter there were snake charmers with hooded cobras, men with Barbary apes, storytellers and performers. We ventured in to the souk but even it had motorcycles whizzing about. After buying some almonds and some marzipan cookies we returned to the hotel for a break.

Daniel and Richard, who own the riad, have their mum and dad visiting from Edinburgh, where I lived for the first 7 years of my life. One of the mum and dad’s best friends went to the same primary school as I did, the Dean Village School, at the same time as I went there. They also know the Drumscheuch Baths, which my dad managed. We reminisced about the trapezes and rings over the pool. The baths were built in the late 1800’s. While discussing things I remembered about Edinburgh I came up with McVitie’s tea room, which was a well known meeting place in Edinburgh. This prompted Daniel to produce some mincemeat tarts right from Edinburgh. Delicious.

Tonight we ate at an Italian restaurant for a change. We are finding the Moroccan food a bit mild as was our penne arriabata. We are never quite sure what to do about wine as it isn’t on the menu. Anyway we missed out as we were halfway through our meal when some locals ordered and got some wine. Oh well!

Then it was back to the square which is a riot of colour at night. There were still the performers but the best thing was all the little restaurants that were set up. You could get every kind of food: snails, fish, chicken, meat, veg, and chips. Everything cooked on the spot. It all smelled wonderful. The people trying to get you to eat at their stalls would find out we were from Canada and immediately say,” Poutine, poutine.” They seem to know a fair bit about Quebec and are amazing mimics of accents ours included.

It was back to the riad as Seamus is still suffering from his cold and he has to drive to Essouria tomorrow. I think that I need to learn how to drive a stick shift. It would be helpful. And so it is Christmas Eve and I’m looking forward to Kate’s blog and the story of the charades. Thanks for all your comments Kate. I’m even more in awe of your daily blog.

Merry Christmas blog followers. Enjoy your turkey and I hope that Santa is good to you.

Stay tuned tomorrow for today’s pictures.


Country Girl said...

Loving your wonderful descriptions of the countryside and the city itself, El.
Thinking of you this Christmas Eve and you are so far away. Matt and I have just returned from an evening spent with old friends (Andrew stayed home and I'm sure you're not surprised!)
Tomorrow after lunch we leave for Anna & Godfrey's which I love and have been doing since I was 19 years old. I think I have only missed 2 of all those years. I'm about pooped out on the charades game but will do my best. I have the presents ready for the Dirty Santa game which is always fun.
On the 26th, I will have had the blog for 2 years. Wow!
Merry Christmas, El and Seamus. We will drink at toast to you while we're wearing our Christmas hats that come out of the crackers.


k a t e

Jenny C said...

How nice to have met someone from Edinburgh halfway across the world! I find everywhere you go there's always someone who knows someone you know or has lived where you have lived, etc etc. It always makes traveling just that much more interesting. I am really enjoying both of your writing styles...i love the way you describe things.
Things here in Maui are going well...time is going by slowly which is actually kind of nice. We are not pulling each others' hair out yet. We went to a Luau last night and I had the best pulled pork I have ever had in my life. We are sure enjoying the food here as's a lot better than i remember.
Miss you guys...Merry Christmas!