Day 20 - A Day In Marakesh

We get up and enjoy the luxury of warm showers and fluffy towels. Breakfast consists of bread, croissants, coffee and some sort of fried dough. Sam finishes off whatever Abbie and I cant eat.

Then we take a slow walk into town from the hotel.

Baz and Sam at the hotel

We wander into the medina where yesterday we got so stuck in Elsa. We try and retrace our path but Sam and I can't quite agree about which way we came! Eventually we find a cybercafe in the medina and I leave Sam and Abbie to check their email while I wander round on my own for an hour. I manage to not get lost and meet them back there.

I've got my heart set on buying a drum to take home with me. There are a cluster of music shops in a souk just off the main square. We look in the shops, and expect to get the hard sell, being dragged into the shops and force-sold something. But we don't. The salesmen all seem remarkably reserved.

Eventually we wander into Bob Music. So-called because Bob Marley once visited here. I wonder just what Bob Marley would be shopping for in Africa. Anyway, we are ushered in and sit amongst drums and pipes and string instruments. Sam tries the old trick of saying I'm a music journalist and I'll write good things about the shop. Gee, thanks Sam.

I try the Moroccan equivalent of the bass guitar. It has three strings, a square sound box, and no frets. But it doesn't sound too good. We get onto drums. The salesman picks out a few, including a ceramic drum with a head made from fish skin. He points out the eyes. We start haggling over a decorated wooden djembe. Then he offers us 5000 camels for Abbie. Sam says we want 7000 camels and two horses. Its too much for our salesman and so we get back to haggling for the drums. Mint tea is drunk.

Eventually we settle on a price after much scribbling of prices and wrapping of drums. He offers two for the price of one and a half. I insist I only want the one, because we don't have room in the Land Rover for two! More mint tea is drunk, and we shake hands. He wraps it up and I walk out with my drum. He hands me a business card and wishes us all well.

Bob Music

On the back is a picture of a traditional Berber band.

Bob Music

We retrace our steps out of the medina and walk back through the new town to the Hotel. Its still early, so we relax by the pool and read.

The Hotel Pool

Dinner is served at about 8 o clock. We get a starter called a Moroccan salad. that consists of about ten small dishes each, with assorted flavoured vegetables in each one. Very tasty. For main course they offer us beef tagine, which Sam and I decline. Instead we're informed that there is 'salade au ris'. 'Rice Salad', I translate to Sam. 'Great', he thinks.

Then they bring us a bowl of rice. And nothing else. We're not sure if that's it. But it is. Sam is not impressed.

Back at the hotel room, the King appears to be making a speech to the nation on television. He delivers it in Arabic, of course, and it sounds monotonous, and depressing. He speaks for about 15 minutes, standing there with no expression on his face. We wonder what could be happening that requires such a delivery. We later find out that its his birthday.

Time to explore the Marakesh nightlife. We get a taxi from outside the hotel and find ourselves hurtling through the traffic. We're in a tiny Renault, only a foot off the ground after being up so high in Elsa. He drops us at the Djemaa El Fna, it is the main square, and where all the action is.

Here we find all sorts of things. There are snake charmers, monkeys, people selling dead animals. There are long rows of food stalls selling all sorts of things - none of which look very appetising, even though Sam is tempted after just a plate of rice. Along one side of the square is a long row of people selling orange juice. One bloke sidles up to us and offers us a block of hash. "La shokran" is the quick response. That's "No thank you", and the most essential Arabic phrase to learn in Morocco.

After drinking some Cola in a terrace overlooking the square, we get another taxi back. This guy speaks some english and Sam tries to educate him some more. Back at the hotel Sam is suddenly hyperactive and running around like a mad person. We're all a bit giggly and we don't know why. Abbie and I sleep in the bed and Sam tries to pour water under the door. Strange man.

Eventually he settles down and we all get a good night's comfortable sleep.

Where's Elsa?
- Marakesh to Ifrane