Published: April 17th 2012April 11th 2012
If only we were able to adopt this little man. We cleaned the ticks out of his ears and took as many fleas off as we could before giving him a bit of food.
Kathryn had her baby! I woke to a message announcing Elsa's safe arrival with an accompanying photo which made me ridiculously happy. I should've saved the bottle of wine for today!
We left Rabat at 8am and I almost felt sad to be leaving. Almost. I'm told this is the most expensive of the campsites we've been to and yet it has the least facilities. I sat up front with Britt as we drove down the freeway towards Marrakech before veering off and heading for the coast. We're spending four nights in Sidi Kaouki, 20 minutes from Essaouira at a campsite opposite a beach which stretches almost as far as the eye can see in both directions. - and which most made a beeline for once their tents were up. On the other side of the road are small cafes and a surf shop/restaurant spread out over three levels, offering the perfect setting to watch the sunset. We went down to the water's edge; I took my sandals off to test the water and it was COLD. The waves were breaking close to shore and there's quite a strong current but we'll see tomorrow. Maybe earlier in
Weird tan lines
My feet on the beach!
the day the temperature and conditions will be better.
Happy Easter! Having slept well last night, I was up early and sat around in my djellaba and pyjama pants with the other early risers. I had bought a mini Easter egg for everyone while in Rabat and handed them out as people wandered over from their tents. At some stage, an adorable little puppy wandered over our way and was instantly pounced on by several people. He was definitely the cutest puppy I'd seen for some time and I avoided him out of fear of wanting to keep him! He was given some milk out of a yoghurt cup and drank it so fast, I thought he might be sick. Suse went over for a cuddle and found his ears were full of ticks. I got my and she put him in her lap and started removing the ticks, putting them into the toilet paper we were holding which I then threw in the fire. The puppy sat quite still, seeming to understand we were trying to help him - though he didn't really like it when we tried to flip him onto his
back. We took as many fleas off him as we could but they were hard to catch before he finally had enough and was rewarded with bread and milk which he ate at record speed. He was christened Socks (hazard a guess why!) and I'm sure if it had been possible to take him across borders, he would've been joining us on the truck...
Most of the gang went to catch the bus to Essaouira and the rest of us went to the beach armed with books, iPods and the usual beach apparel. After a month of wearing mainly pants and shirts, it felt weird to be on a beach with women in bikinis and men wearing only shorts! Denise went swimming and I walked along in the shallows, too chicken to go too far into the still cold water. Boys rode horses and camels, approaching tourists to offer rides along the beach which was tempting but at the time I was happy being on my own with my thoughts.
For lunch we wandered down to the small collection of cafes and amid much hassle from the owners, we chose the least aggressive one and settled into a game of
Ready for the morning
Fishing boats in Essaouira port
Scrabble while we waited for a food. I've come to quite like the green olives here (still not keen on the purple or black ones though) and worked my way through the small dish placed on the table with the round bread and an extremely spicy sauce (for me anyway) while I waited for my beef tagine. The food was delicious and our game placed on hold when a familiar face approached the cafe. It was Rasheed, who we had met just before the Sahara. Having spoken to him yesterday while Suse was driving, I reintroduced myself and he told us he had brought the film crew he was working with for lunch. They had spent five weeks filming in the desert and were now in for two weeks, finishing next Sunday. With our game ending in a stalemate (it was a horrible game with very few openings) and an invitation to visit the film set the following day, we bid everyone farewell and made for the surf bar for one drink before dinner, scooping up Socks from the side of the road en route.
You know that first moment when you become
concious of the fact that you're awake? At that point this morning, I realised I was HOT. The tent was like an oven once the sun was up and Britt opened the rain sheet while we lay there and talked. Eventually it got too much and we got up and found Socks wandering amongst the kitchen equipment. It turns out he'd spent part of the night wrapped in a blanket by the fire and the rest huddled between Talbot's rain sheet and tent, whimpering. Of all the people Socks could've chosen, he chose the one person who isn't a dog lover!
After another great shower (I know I keep mentioning the showers but they're about to end so gimme a break) and some more washing, a bunch of us walked down to take the bus into town. Kinda became impatient when it didn't turn up at 11am like we thought it would (and we could feel ourselves burning in the sun with no shade) so once again, six of us crammed into a taxi for yet another uncomfortable but rather amusing twenty minute trip. Squished into the door, only half of me was actually on the seat. And that side
or grapefruit or lemon juice
was numb before we'd even turned onto the main road.
Once in town, we inadvertently split up and Denise and I wandered down to the port to see fisherman selling their catch. One man sat crouched, putting his thumb into what I guess would be the neck of the sardine and in one deft move, removed the head and guts. I wanted to take a photo but it didn't seem appropriate. I need to work on that (I'm missing lots of photo opportunities of people, I think partly because I don't like having my photo taken and I also don't want to pay for the privilege). From there we wandered the small alleyways and came across a store advertising the kind of henna work I was looking for. Minutes later, I was back out in the sun drying the henna on my leg, very happy with the way it looks. As a result, we were late meeting Jareb but found him and Brian and we had lunch before beginning to shop for dinner tomorrow night (we wanted to avoid having to go into town two days in a row). Prices were much cheaper here than any other city and we
were easily under budget.
Waiting for the bus, one came trundling down the street on the uneven, half paved surface and hit the horn several times. Jareb, who was standing in front of me, shouted in surprise and jumped a mile. This isn't the first time (there is video evidence of this phenomenon) but it was still highly amusing, even more so because the elderly women lined up against the wall started giggling behind scarves and hands. A few of them then got on the same bus as us and seemed fascinated with our conversation and my hand flapping (while I explained to the others about my cork hat and how the corks would keep the mosquitoes away) and there were smiles all round.
We dropped the food off at the campsite and headed back to the bar we've been frequenting and found the others who had spent their day on the beach (and had the sunburn to prove it). It turns out that the boys vs girls sand ball (tennis of sorts with ping pong bats and no net) had been a 1-1 draw but it was the bets that counted. The girls won a round of beers but
This cat was watching the gulls circle overhead
lost the game that meant they are now slaves for 24 hours. So far, none of the three guys have stood up to get a beer or washed their dishes; Britt has had to sing nursery rhymes to the group and there's been talk of much, much more. Luckily for Suse - well, apart from the 5am alarm - she's off to Rabat to pick up our Ivory Coast visas tomorrow which leaves Britt and Steph to pick up the slack.
During dinner we saw a satellite cruising the night sky at an extraordinary speed which was pretty cool and now much of the group have gone in search of a spot to watch the moon rise, leaving me to write to you without distraction. I must finish writing about Morocco before I leave Morocco in two nights!!
I heard Suse shut the truck door when she was leaving this morning as our tent is close by. Fortunately for the rest of us, we could go back to sleep while she took a taxi to Essaouira, a bus to Marrakech, a train to Rabat and then a taxi to the embassy. It sucks and we
are all grateful that Suse was willing to make the trip back, meaning we didn't need to sit in Rabat and possibly skip Essaouira.
Breakfast was a drawn-out affair and I'd planned to wander down to the beach with my book (I hadn't read anything since the start of the trip until yesterday) but when I got closer to the truck, I saw several bees helping themselves to our jam, honey and whatever else they could find. At first it didn't seem like a big deal; I flicked them away and we cleaned the jars but as more bees arrived, the problem escalated. In the end, we pulled everything out of the food lockers, washed the crates holding our supplies, threw water inside the truck compartment (I did feel bad drowning some of the bees but I don't know what else we could've done?) and itemised what we had for future reference while we waited for everything to dry. By the time we were done it was lunch time and we returned to the same cafe as yesterday. We were on cook duty again but had to wait for Justice to return from town with coal so once I saw
Birds flew in for a few grains for lunch!
him, I headed back to camp with him and began trial and error-ing the sweet and sour sauce I wanted to make. Equal amounts of pineapple juice, tomato sauce, white vinegar and then some sugar seemed to work and I boiled it and gave it to a couple people to try. With a thumbs up, I made a larger quantity while the others cut the chicken and vegetables and I boiled the rice. Belatedly I realised I may have started prepping too early and there was a possibility of running out of coal. Britt went in search of more and returned not only with coal but also the cornbread cookies we've been snacking on. At one dirham each (eight dirham is equivalent to one US dollar), they're a cheap treat.
Our sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice was a success and without Suse to give her usual evening speech, we all chipped in with various comments. She wasn't expecting to get back until 1am due to a delay at the embassy.
People wandered off to the surf bar and I went for a shower, knowing that it would be my last chance for several days. It turned out
to be the most miserable, coldest shower ever, the hot water lasting long enough for me to put the shampoo in my hair. As always. I shivered my way through it and layered on as many clothes as I could and hid in my sleeping bag, trying to warm up. A game of Scumbag started up on the truck once everyone returned and I had almost returned to a normal temperature when Denise came looking for me in my tent. Rasheed had called Suse asking if any of us wanted to be extras in the film tomorrow and invited the rest to watch. Several agreed and we were to be picked up at 06:30 the following morning.
We woke at 05:45 and stumbled to the bathroom. I hadn't slept overly well and heard Suse get in after 3am. Ouch. We saw her briefly before we left and learnt that the visas hadn't been ready as promised, Toni being the only one to get the proper photo identification in his passport. The rest of us have to make do with a stamp and a letter from the embassy to give at the border.
There were two cars waiting for us and we climbed in, having to unfortunately leave a couple people behind because of space. Our imaginations ran wild with ideas of what roles we could be given but all were excited enough by the breakfast spread! The equipment trucks were lined up in the sandy car park opposite an area in the medina known as Bab Marrakech; the filming taking place in a hotel just inside the walls
We met Rasheed and he took us in, offering us a seat amongst the greenery in the middle of the hotel. In the local style, the rooms all face out with their entrances overlooking an open courtyard which is where we now waited, watched the crew setting up lighting and cameras. The director (looking more like a surfer) came over and introduced himself and having asked for six extras, seemed... bemused? confused? to see so many of us. He walked off, returning minutes later and choosing six of us and sending us to wardrobe, myself included!
After a couple false starts with outfits, we were eventually kitted out, me being last due to the unavailability of heels in my size. I ended up in black pants, a vest and oversized cardigan in neutral colours and men's loafers - hurriedly cleaned by one of the crew! By the time I got back, Steph, Justice and Toni were already being put in place and Brian, Britt, Carlos and I were to wait for a different scene. We sat inside, making use of the hotel's wi-fi until the manager became frustrated with the amount of unnecessary people in his foyer and we were asked to wait outside. The crew were French and Moroccan and all lovely, happy to sit and chat when they had free time.
Lunch was an equally impressive spread and our three 'actors' gave us the gossip from inside. They went back in after lunch and admittedly it was a bit dull hanging around all day, not knowing what was happening and eventually Carlos gave up and left. I was happy hanging out with the crew and Britt and I were invited to dinner with two of them that evening. We had been told that they only had until 5pm to wrap up shooting and as the time neared, we accepted that we might not get a chance. But then we were called in! And given positions and waited silently for our cue and tried to act 'normal'. Ha! So now, we wait and see. The film is in post-production for six months and due out in the cinemas in 9-12 months. Then we'll see if we actually made it into the final cut! Either way it was an unexpected experience and we were paid for our services, meaning I'm now back within my budget!
The rain began as we drove to the camp site and continued as Britt and I made our way back to the cafes to meet Jaafar and his cousin Moujib for dinner. A bit of frustration coupled with a lot of lost in translation meant they were an hour late and we went without much more than bread and olives for dinner while we waited. Rather than head into the city, we took them to meet everyone else and sat for one final night at the surf bar with Abdul the owner until late into the night. It was a great way to end our stay in Morocco.