I never imagined I’d visit Morocco. It was never part of my travel list. But a work innovation week took me and Chè there and I was pleasantly surprised at what this city had to offer.
<read on for a Sahara sandstorm, a dramatic escape from potential thieves (?) in the Medina, and another adventure with taxi drivers (there’s a distinct pattern emerging with taxi drivers in my past travels …)>
The highlight of my trip was going into the Sahara desert and getting caught in a sandstorm. There was nothing Hollywood about it as shelter, food and wine (lots of wine) were at hand, but it was an experience nonetheless. The storm began with a dark shape on the horizon that began to close in. Then an icy wind blew through the camp followed by the sand. OMG! I almost blew away, got sand in my shoes, socks, clothes, hair and bag, but it was SO awesome!
Then the sandstorm passed and the Berber folk troupe entertained us.
Getting a taxi from the hotel was easy. Getting one back to the hotel from wherever we were was a bit tricky. There is a clear rule about how many people can be transported in a taxi sedan. Well … this driver had the grand idea to insert six of us into a small car that could only take an additional three people. I thought (aloud) “this is bs…” and walked away. Some of my colleagues still went in but Chè and I went in search of a van with a few other colleagues. It wasn’t funny at the time (actually it still doesn’t feel funny) and of course there was the whole issue of not speaking Arabic and making myself be understood.
The Medina of Marrakesh is quite intimidating. It’s large and crowded and I held on to my bag rather tightly with one hand and Chè’s hand with the other. A group of us went in search of a restaurant that had good reviews on Tripadvisor. We soon discovered that Google Maps doesn’t work in the Medina because there are so many twisting and curling alleyways that it’s easy to get lost. Even with a navigator app. And what seems to be the right way is actually the wrong way.
One of the locals saw our plight and offered to lead us to the restaurant. I’d read about warnings of being approached by someone wanting to help and getting ripped off, scammed or worse. So I didn’t feel good about accepting his help. But I was in a big group of people and followed. When he started leading us through increasingly narrowing alleyways (one person narrow) and I was at risk of losing my bearings, I stopped everyone and said that I wasn’t feeling safe. I think I also said that “this is bs”, I was turning back and walking to the main square. I wasn’t the only one who was feeling this way so everyone else ended up following me out, much to the chagrin the of the so-called guide. Narrow escape? I don’t know. I don’t care. I didn’t stick around to find out.
View of the Medina of Marrakesh at night from a restaurant we found all on our own.
Blogging from A to Z posts – my favourite ones so far are D is for Durban and J is for Johannesburg: L is for Lisbon K is for Kanchanaburi J is for Johannesburg I is for Istanbul (Magnetic Istanbul) H is for Hua Huin (party town) G is for Ghent F is for Flic en Flac E is for Erawan Falls D is for Durban (Memories) C is for Chiang Mai B is Bangkok A is for Ayutthaya