Saturday, 9 December 2006
The Nashman Diaries: Maroc Day 5- Marakkech
For your transport you can chose between a white 1980 Mercedes or a white 1981 Mercedes. Tough choice.
(I didn't realise these entries were in the my 'drafts' blog diary folder...the continuation of the Maroc diaries)
After four days of hiking the High Atlas, it was time to head back to exciting Marrakech for a culinary holiday. I will definitely be back to hike a couple more mountain passes next season.
The ride down to the valley was truly hair-raising. I'm a veteran of Halsema and Kennon roads, but going down via steep and zigzagged passes on a rickety old Mercedes with a driver who looked half sleepy and hungry (from the Ramadan fast) was truly invigorating. It didn't help that Katja, a Dutch girl I met at the refuge, kept screaming as if we were on a roller coaster.
Arriving in Marrakech, I headed back to the Djemaa el Fna, successfully weaving my way around and avoiding all the snake charmers and their lethargic cobras, and took a table on the terrace at the Cafe Argana on the northern side of the square. I waited for my French contact, Philippe, to arrive. He insisted earlier, over the phone, that there was no way in hell I could find the riad in the middle of the Medina my first time around and so insisted on fetching me from the cafe. (Censorship note: Due to security concerns, we cannot divulge how this contact was established. - PA/PR Gromit.) He did arrive, one hour late. (I'm not into the annoying habit of texting 'Wher R U? And2 na me.') Apparently, his scooter broke down. I tried to hide my amusement finally seeing how he is a spitting image of Jean Claude Van Dam. I wondered, was he the good twin or the evil one? (Didn't he do a couple of bad/good twin brother movies?).
It was true, what Philippe said earlier, navigating the Medina is nothing like your usual Sunday newspaper maze puzzle. There is beautiful chaos everywhere suffused with the intoxicating smell of spices. When we reached the riad it was eerily quiet. The transition from noisy souk to peaceful courtyard is what impressed me most.
It was just me, HRO Karl Willem, and PA/PR Gromit in a 5-room riad. "If you want, anything. I mean, anything, just tell the girls." Philippe said as he introduced us to the staff. I was tempted to inflate what he meant by 'anything' and wanted to say "Oui, I'm invading a small banana republic. I need rocket launchers, a humvee, a helicopter......and while you are at it, I need some ho's and some white powder." He really looked uncannily like Jean Claude Van Dam and I felt I was in one of those action movies. I settled for a massage and he quickly punched speed dial on his mobile phone. "It's been arranged" he said. Satisfied, I went to my room to have a siesta.
Not soon after, a masseur appeared. He rattled off different types of treatments in detail. It was a long menu which made choosing difficult that I just told him how I had been walking for four days and although my ass was toned from my efforts, my legs were dead, my back was in pain, and I wanted whatever it took to fix them. Dang, he was good. I never realised my body could be contorted into such positions. I think it was a Swedish-Thai-Shiatsu massage. My recovery was complete.
I went to the rooftop to listen to the Muezzin's beautifully sung call to prayer. My stomach grumbled, knowing that when the fast was broken for the day, there would be a sumptous feast in the square. I was also waiting for Mr. Multiple-Palanca-award-winner-with-Pia Guanio's-legs-on-the-front cover-of-his-book Clinton who flew out of Middle Earth that day to join me in this gustatory holiday.
The Djemaa el Fna does not disappoint. It was turo-turo heaven. Aah, this is the life....
The Marrakech Traffic Police with their radar gun. Eh? The most my Peugeot 502 could do was 15mph.
Banana split at the Cafe Argana looking over the square waiting for my French contact. While it was Ramadan, Morocco is tolerant and as long as you did not eat in open areas, it was fine.
Deep in the confusing maze of the Medina.....
...the riad. After 4 days hiking, time to be just lie down to read a good book and relax....
HRO Karl Willem and PA/PR Gromit, intrepid hikers, time for some R&R.
The riad roof terrace...
...with the Koutoubia dominating the skyline.
HRO Karl Willem and PA/PR Gromit take and afternoon siesta.
The riad courtyard. Exclusively for HRO Karl Willem's use.
My left nipple. After a very relaxing massage.
The muezzin calls the break of the day's Ramadan fast. Time to hit the square....
For starters, escargot/snails/kuhol. Just dip the critters in salt and suck them off their shell. Yummy.
Look how clinical/CSI Lab technician looking the food vendors are. Well, after all they are serving sheeps' brains, entrails, and whatnot. They are culinary forensic pathologists. Mmmmm, that brain looks yummy.
The shish kebab stand. Pick whatever you like.
Fresh and halal. Yum!
at 11:35 p.m.