Monday, October 8, 2007


Considering the frequency of posts on this here blog I wouldn't be surprised if nobody actually read this. For those that do here's what's happening:

Maddy and I are in Marrakech having arrived a week ago at about 2am local time. It is Ramadan however and thus nobody sleeps at night, they're too busy eating their only meals of the day.
This place is a constant rollercoaster of great and terrible experiences but always exciting and interesting. Once you get past the constant requests, offers, and demands of the locals for change, hashish, and inflated prices, you start to see a lot of more of what this place really has to offer.
Our hotel is cheap and cheerful in the extreme and the staff range from eccentric to insane (possibly with hunger given the time of year). The street life is incredible, including wonderful food stalls that fill the main square every night; touts from each try out their unique approaches to get you to choose their stall above all others. One calls himself Denzal Washington, one stops just short of abuse, and our favourite wooed us with Kath and Kim impressions and delicious lamb skewers.
After spending most of our time in Marrakech city we decided to go on a day trip to the incredible Atlas Mountains just 50km from town. Our guide Muhammed comes from a Berber village just south of where we were and had a great relationship with the locals which we were able to share in. Far from being a big tour group it was only Maddy, Liz (Maddy's friend who met us here on Monday), myself, Muhammed, another Berber guide, and our mule Mermusha. Muhammed went out of his way to assure me that the mule was included in the price.
We walked along the trail that the local men and women take from the weekly market back to their home along a river running through the High Atlas. This meant crossing the river many times, resulting in several wet shoes, and a few hairy moments. We stopped for lunch and a swim in a small lagoon of ice cold, flowing mountain water. After this we headed up and saw just some of the incredible views offered by the mountains. It was certainly one of the most amazing experiences any of us have ever had.
On returning to the village from which we started our expedition we met up again with our taxi driver who took us all the way back to town (grand taxis: Creamy mercedes that the driver packs full of people and does trips between major centres for about the cost of a cab to the city from Webbs Ave). The sour note, and another example of the constant contradictions of this place, was that I discovered that I was missing some 800dh (about 110 australian) from my money belt. The only time it had been out of my sight was when we were swimming and we left with Muhammed and our Berber guide, at their insistance. Not wanting to have any bad feelings about a wonderful day we organised to see Muhammed later on and I spoke to him about it. He seemed shocked and very upset that it had happened and insisted on paying back all the money. I didn't want this but only wanted to feel completely ok about my relationship with him. The agreement was for him to pay half and to investigate with his guide whether or not something may have happened. His sincere desire for us not to have any negative feelings about him or about Morocco were clear and impressed me greatly. Perhaps it is hard to understand why this meant so much to me unless you've experienced the great uncertainty of Marrakech where it is hard to tell the difference between people you wouldn't look at twice and those that you could trust your life with.
It is with these mixed feelings that we spend our last full day in Marrakech before heading to Tangier. However it should be said that the positive far outweighs any negative, and all of it is part of the experience of this amazing place.
Hope you are all well and enjoyed reading something about our experiences here. I'll try to update you about the rest of our time here and perhaps something about our farmstay which is coming up in Spain!