Travels: Update 5


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Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz
December 19th 2018
Published: December 19th 2018
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One of the largest Mosque' in the world
Day 25: Went for a nap as soon as I sat on the plane. Woke up still at the gate. Missed connection flight at Cairo. Stood waiting for the bus to the hotel (5 minutes walk away) longer than the transit flight itself. Swish hotel nevertheless with lunch included. Another delay upon departure with EgyptAir, of course (only an hour this time)

Casablanca taxi driver loved 60km/hr on motorway while simultaneously taking calls at 1am.

Day 26: Casablanca has a few highlights, but seemingly was renovating every public space. Massive mosque on the coast. Old medinas are cool. Love the tram.

Grateful for four years of mediocre focus in French. However, continue to hybridise french and the more-recently learned spanish. Some lavish haircuts amongst the young lads here.

Day 27: Booked another night, purely to watch a local football game at 8pm. Raja Casablanca vs. Ismaily (Egypt) in the second-leg of the Arab champions League. 0-0 after the first leg.

Raja are one of the world's 'Ultras'*. Good game. Cracking crowd, best atmosphere I've experienced. Only two stretchers needed (for the crowd), and will openly admit I was grateful they won on a tense penalty shootout.

*Ultras. A club fanbase whereby a large portion are renowned for Drums, flares, smoke, 15 odd chants, (surround sound ones included), and occasionally violence/pitch invasions.

Day 28: Rapid train to Tangier - nerded out a little as it's Africa's first and only high-speed. Everyone wants to help you, for a pretty penny. Quite a nice coastal location and Medine on the hill. The amount of live chickens within markets and minimal butchers has been a interesting observation. Survived my first dodgy meal with relative ease.

Day 29: Morroco is greener and flatter than I expected, plenty of agriculture. Grabbed a shared taxi to Chefcaouen. Overcast sadly but the blue town in the mountains is a neat visual. The presence of stray dogs and cats continues. Learned its a real global hub for weed and smuggling tactics (using DHL and carpets often). Finished my first book in 5 years.

Opted for a local, Hammam massage. Nothing like a 70+ year old man exfoliating your skin to the nerve endings, then wrapping himself around your limbs for some local chiropractics (I'm told it's a genuine part of the culture). Very good night's sleep nevertheless.

Day 30: Long bus
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High-speed rail
and train detour to Fes due to some slack planning admittedly. Nice to see some more of the country however. The offers for an array of opioids and 'hash' in the street continue - notably by a 12 year old today.

Really nice public park. However the zoo element detracted humourously...caged pigeons didn't quite do it for me. Walking around town I couldn't help but feel two things:
1. That most young Morrocan adults are in a relationships - endless couples and photoshoots.
2. The knock-off tracksuit industry must originate here.

Day 31: A 7 hour train to Marrakech. Retrospectively learned the toilet is just a straight pipe to the tracks - at least it comes with a flush. Some great chats with folk on the train, but learning that Morroco has 75% of the world's phosphate supply got my attention the most.

First site of snow capped a very scenic transit, however, something odd about seeing fields of palms trees and cacti with snowy mountains in the background. First impressions of Marrakech entailed ample more tourists (especially families of chavs), chaotic markets with snake charmers at every corner, and breathing about a months worth of exhaust fumes.

NB: Tonights hostel. The worst to date. The mattresses had wooden boards inside...And to my initiative's disbelief and oversight, both sides as well...think I'll upgrade from a $7 to an $8 hostel upon my return.

Day 32-35: Endeavoured into the Atlas mountains. Shared a mule with a Tunisian couple, thankfully good conversationalists. Bumped into a posh British couple on the first night to spin some controversial yarns with.

The Tunisian man did at one point proceed to make a spectrum of animals noises - I'll give the benefit of the doubt and blame altitude. Plenty of waterfalls and ice. Goats in trees too. However some really tragic news put a dampener on the mood, and led to a change in plans during the second day (https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2018/12/260765/morocco-bcij-murder-scandinavian-tourists-mount-toubkal/amp/).

Really sombre feeling around the small town and between the local Berber people, however very quick progress made and three men have been arrested. Sadly much of the access was closed as a consequence and would be for some time. But we found another summit, that still gave good technical challenges and views.

In general - Beautiful colours and clear skies (4 bluebird days). Nice coloured rocks. Pretty damn
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Chefcaouen in the rain
cold at times. Crisp mountain water. Berber village and people are awesome, good food too. Absolute silence throughout. All in all, one of my favourite places in the world, and I fully intend on returning to complete a series of ridges and summits.

Must admit, thought I heard an F1 car as we decended the first pass - Just an array of mountain goats in the valley beyond. Also a village here called Asnee (that will make sense to 20% of you admittedly).

NB: 2nd Marrakech hostel has far superior mattresses. And I'm bunking with a Finnish criminal on the minimum wage.

Day 36: Marrakech has some top notch parks. Pity its often a photo shoot for a fair few people. In the habit of getting lost in a medina and figuring a way back. €2.5mil for a large villa here is far too much however. Met a German who runs football competitions for nations/areas that aren't part of fifa for a variety of reasons, great insights into Uzbekistan politics.

Day 37: More goats in trees on the way to Essaouira. Really indulging podcasts and interviews on a spectrum of things, religion, psychology, science, humanities etc. tonne of hippies in dreads, which may be why the offers for hash in the street have subsided. Game of thrones set apparently. Some nice woodwork Sublime sunset to end the first stint of international travel.

Day 38: Nothing really opens until 11am in Morroco. Content to be leaving the intermittent smells of fish markets and dated fruit stalls. But shall miss the vibrant street life and landscapes. Ryanair living up to its reputation, nearly on par with the Egyptair experience. Plane full of British uni students on a surfing trip - half makes me grateful I moved based on some of the chat I'm overhearing.


Additional photos below
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Atlas mountain by day
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Atlas mountain sunset
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Atlas mountains by night
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Atlas mountain summit
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Marrakech markets by night
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Some renowned building - nice blue
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Goats in trees
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Essaouira coast
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Game of thrones set in Essaouira
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Essaouira sunset


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