The trip from Lisbon to Marrakech was a bit of a marathon. It was always going to be a bit untidy as I had a plane change at Madrid on the way through. I complicated things further by turning up to the wrong Lisbon Airport Terminal to catch a plane that had left 10min before I got there. This was my first major mix-up for the trip, so there was a bit of frantic careering around the airline desks to see what flights I could find that would still get me to Madrid in time to catch my next plane.
As is the way of things, the extraordinarily cheap airfare for the flight I had missed turned into an eye wateringly expensive ticket for the flight that I now needed; but at least I was on my way again. I arrived in Madrid, pretty knackered, for a transfer that was going much quicker than I had planned only to be confronted by a spanish customs officer who appeared he might have wished that the inquisition was still a thing. As my bag was screened I attempted to pass through the scanner. After numerous attempts where an additional piece of clothing or accruement was removed each time, I was ushered to one side, holding up my trousers in one hand and clinging onto my shoes, belt, wallet, passport, scarf, vest and beanie with the other. The circumspect customs officer gave me an instruction in Spanish and when I indicated that I didn’t understand he tried again in French. I attempted to explain that I only spoke English. He glared and flicked on some gloves as if to suggest that a thorough body cavity inspection would be the only course of action suitable for such an uncultured monoglot who was making his day rather tedious. He rummaged through my bag and extracted the offending item. My very handy shaving brush that packs down nicely into a silver tube had caused some concern at the x-ray machine. My enthusiastic demonstration of the functionality of my grooming implement did not seem to improve his countenance, so I cut my losses, gathered up my pack and shuffled off to find a quiet corner where I could sit and gather myself. I was knackered and my plane was about to board.
Turned out the plane was delayed so I managed to have a bit of a rest up against my pack for a while.
Fortunately I’d arranged for a pickup from the airport at Marrakech, because there would have been no way of finding it otherwise. The Marrakech Rouge Hostel is in located in the old part of Marrakech. The medina is maze of of alleyways and souks crammed with people and motorbikes. I spent most of days in Marrakech wandering aimlessly through the medina, until evening then attempting with ever increasing urgency to find my way back to the hostel. The evenings were filled with very entertaining conversations with some very interesting fellow travels (a cool creative skateboarding Slovenian video blogger, a laid back Kiwi accountant who got on his pushy whenever he got sick of living in London and was peddling his way across Morocco, a Belgian philosopher, a hilarious Irish biologist who wanted to study teaching). These people and my time with them were my Marrakech moments.
On my second last day in town I had a very interesting tour out to Essaouira. A cabal of english travellers had got together in the front of the bus barely before we’d left Marrakech. They weren’t happy about a number of things (the cleanliness of the van, the time it was taking to leave town, the drivers driving, the drivers lack of english, the all round poor show that things had turned out to be. As they became more agitated and vocal towards the driver a group of spaniards sitting behind me started shouting at them, basically telling them to put a sock in it. Myself and a few neutral nordic types sat bemused between them. The driver eventually go jack of all the shouty-shouty and promptly let rip in Arabic. Nothing like a cranky shouting Arabian man to quieten down a bunch of opinionated europeans it seems. The rest of the trip was pretty much travelled in silence and clouded with bad weather. The early morning scooter ride to the bus was about the only enjoyable part of the day.
The pleasure of my final lunchtime chat with the Belgian philosopher was only topped by our ride to the airport. We had been joined by Swiss girl who was heading in the same direction. A taxi driver strategically touting for business outside the bus stops convinced us that, while a ride with him would be the same price in total for all of us, it would be much quicker and easier. As it turned out very entertaining to boot. Once he’d corralled us in the taxi, a couple of other drivers turned up for an animate conversation with our driver through the window. He asked us if it would be ok if a couple of his friends got into the back of the taxi with us as it was lunchtime and they were all planning on going to eat at a place near the airport. ‘Of course, that’s fine’ we chorused. One, two, three other drivers piled in like a scene out of a Three Stooges film. It was cosy but that just proved to make the conversation more animated and entertaining.
The conversation started in English with discussion about what the drivers would all be having for lunch (fried fish), where, how much it might cost them (less than AUD$1) and them inviting us to join them for the meal with a guarantee that it would be the best and cheapest meal we would have eaten in Marrakech. The conversation then moved into French. They all chatted together as this was a language that 7 out of 8 people in the taxi spoke fluently. I sat and smiled politely, wishing that I had paid more attention to the French lessons that Miss Harris gave us in Primary School.
Arriving at the airport the bonds that bound us belied the brevity of our trip together in the comfortable, albeit close quarters of the taxi. We had laughed, waved our arms and made fun of the American and British. So close had we become that the taxi drivers asked us for a group photo as a memento of our time together. We all left the airport with smiles on our faces, and in my mind at least, a warm glow in our hearts from a coincidental meeting that broke down the barriers between the known and the other.
Marrakech in a Nutshell
What I came for
- The Tanneries
What I loved
- The people the met at the hostel
What I’d go back for
- Not sure that I would. This says more about where my head was at whilst there not about the place itself. I wasn’t quite ready for the culture shock I don’t think.
Great characters from History | Marrakech
I couldn’t find any. More a reflection on me than them.
Perhaps you could suggest one?