Wednesday 9th March ~ To Marakkech Cont.
Lumpy, bumpy, single track, potholes and gravel. I almost feel at home- and now, more and more we’re ‘playing chicken’ with the local traffic competing for road space. You could lose this game, badly, and there’s no prizes for winning anyway. From now on, traffic got more assertive – priority was usually given to whatever had the most wheels! Having said that, it’s not like the European way – most traffic was not at all agressive, just assertive. Many times we’d actually be given priority at for example roundabouts, where often a local driver already on one, would stop so that the entire group could pass through as a group. A little disconcerting at first, but at no stage did I feel threatened by the huge and varied clot of vehicles, especially in towns. Quite refreshing after a lifetime of riding my Bike in Europe.
Surface got quite bad on some of these roads. Difene works – that’s all I can say. Not exactly an eventful day, which was a blessed relief given some of the stress before Rabat. One of the Bikes got yet another puncture on a long straight – no stress, just stop and fix. Some of the ‘scenery’ enroute was a little odd.
Arrival at Marakkech. We arrived at the campsite about 4.30p.m. so not a long day in the saddle. 218 miles done. Campsite was o.k. Nothing fancy, apart from the peacocks. Yep – peacocks. Thankfully they didn’t have any bad habits, like nightime squawking. Just a taste for our breakfast the next day, when they assembled and hoped and were disappointed by the ravenous Gapper riders! This campsite had been used by a previous group, so we knew the lay of the land. It was located just outside the town and we booked a taxi to take us into Marakkech that evening.
The famous market square. This was I thought going to be one of the best features of the trip. I was wrong, but not disappointed. This original plan was that we’d all sit down and eat at one of the stalls that feature in so many travellers write ups of Marakkech. Wrong. By the time we’d got into town hardly anyone wanted to do this. There were many reasons, from mere apathy to ‘been-there-done-that’ to ‘where’s a bar?’ So after a fair bit of discussion (I’m trying to elaborate and be clear on what “discussion” actually means… sorry – cant – or am too polite to anyhow) we sat and had a starter, paid up and left – much to the visible upset of the stalls servers. We’d been severely harassed into sitting and eating and I think they could see the potential profit evaporate in front of them. Them the group fractured into smaller groups – some managed to find a very upmarket Indian Restaurant (wtf?!) with (suprise suprise!) a bar. Some, me included, wandered and people watched for a while before finding a relatively quiet place for the best ‘Tagine’ meal ever.
Like most markets – but on steroids is the best way to describe the place to anyone that’s not been. From the moment you enter into the square you will be hit by an onslaught of activity. From the mopeds whizzing by to the sheer amount of people. It is intense and you really need to keep your wits about you. I ended up giving up actually trying to buy anything there (thank Allah I’d got all I actually wanted in Rabat!) as the only time I asked an old woman how much for the hats she was selling and thanked her and declined – she chased me across the square yelling “how much? how much?!” as in; how much would I pay? I’m all for a healthy bit of haggle and banter, but sheesh! Way to agressive for my liking – scary wimmen chasing me, no ta!
It was the first time anyone on our journey was really ‘in your face’. Up til now, all dealings with people had been civilised, polite and gentle. Even beggars in Rabat had been mannerly. Not here, not in the heaving mass of this market square. From kids no more than 4 or 5 years old to old folk in their eighties – I got hassled to buy everything from toys to clothes to hash to wooden camels and really badly made leather goods. I declined them all. Only resorting to swearing and glaring if they asked more than three times. Quite reasonable of me I thought. If you were expecting more pics – sorry – I spent most of my time standing there with me gob open in wonder, some of the remainder with my hand over my wallet and then the battery went flat on the camera anyway.
Time to stand back and watch the world go by. Far more enjoyable.