Baptism of fire!

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Africa » Morocco
July 14th 2007
Published: July 14th 2007
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So Im in Morrocco and i really dont know how to feel. Im actually really wishing i wasnt here, that i was back in barcelona, or even better home on the couch in australia watching the crows play. but im not and so i feel like i should be making the best of this situation- finding out what it is that others love about this place....why i am i so tense that my neck is stiff and everything aches? why cant i look at the little boy whos trying to sell me tissues and not want to cry, but at the same time pull my bag closer to me so he cant swipe it? why do i not even feel like looking at the beautiful coloured scarves and wall hangings? why, when cherida just sugggested a camel ride in marrakech that my stomach clenched and i said immediately NO. i think i would be a lot more positive if it wasnt for our ordeal last night, which ended fine but felt like it could have been the stupidest thing id ever done in my life, once ive got that out of the way ill be able to give you the positives.

we flew from barcelona to casablanca no problems, hunky dorey. got to information and they informed us it was 5 hours to essaouira by bus only and that first we had to get a train into casablanca city. no worries, little bit further than we expected but we can roll with that. train and taxi sorted and arrived at the bus station, to discover that the next bus leaves at 5pm and gets in to essa ouira at midnight. hmmm the wheels are starting to fall off. never mind, lets get a bus to safi which leaves at 3 and is only 120 ks from essaouira, we can get a cab from safi to essaouira (cheaper than a cab all the way from casablanca). so we wait for the bus to safi, get on... and wait.. and wait.... once everyone has finished arguing and yelling about who should be on the bus and who shouldnt (thankfully we werent the target of any of this) we finally got moving... out into what felt like the middle of nowhere and the back of beyond.... we arrived in safi at around 8pm feeling rather thankful to be there and not tipped over on the side of the road with donkeys licking our faces (it started off as a funny thought, it got less funny the faster we drove). very relieved to find taxis to safi for cheap price, so paid for the whole 6 people that they wanted to take (even tho there were only 4 seats and 2 of us). breathed a sigh of relief that nearly made it all the way out of my chest until i realised that i was in a moroccan taxi driving somewhere where i could barely read the signs, could not communicate and it was dark. was this the stupidest thing id ever done?

i barely moved in my seat the whole two hours from safi to essaouira, willing the driver to just keep driving and not pull over on the side of the road and take all our money. the fact that the driver spoke to us in extremely limited english but tried to make us understand that he was playing us moroccan music for us to enjoy reassured me a little... but i was confued as to wether the police presence inspecting cars in the major towns should make me feel better
Bus StationBus StationBus Station

this was one of the worst places
or worse. once id realised that the taxi man was in fact taking us to essaouira and wed arrived at the place where the man from the hostel was supposed to meet us the meaning of the song better the devil you know became all to clear. the taxi man turned out to be our saviour (even though he didnt know where he was supposed to drop us off to meet the hostel man) as he shooed the men trying to sell us stuff and take our bags away and made us wait in the cab. i felt bad for ever doubting him. 45 minutes of driving around, shouted directions, failed phone calls and finally reaching the hostel that taxi man was my favourite person in the world. my second favourite person was the 65 yr old man with no front teeth and looking like the biggest dodgy brother in the world who confirmed he was the man who would take us to our hostel. we had arrived. noone at the hostel to tell us where our beds are or anything but we had beds and a lock on the door and maybe i can start to breath properly now.
Streets of EssaouiraStreets of EssaouiraStreets of Essaouira

Looking a bit deserted!

i dont know, maybe im a snob, maybe im spoilt. but ive always believed in trusting your instincts and mine say that any number of things could have gone wrong and those men hanging around the taxi last night definitley didnt have our best interests at heart. now for the positives to prove that even in teh worst of situations theres something special to be found. i just wish i was in the mood to appreciate it more!

when we arrived in casablanca yesterday i was so excited... i was in africa! i wrote a text to mum saying that we had a five hour bus ride to essaouira (ha ha hardi ha!) but i didnt care coz when i looked out the window i was looking at africa. she wrote back that i should use all my senses to remember every little part of it so i could share it with her, and ive tried, ive really tried. im going to do this in the form of a Y chart (the uni girls will know!!) to give you an idea of what this is like.

Looks Like...

- watermelons, lying on the side of the road under makeshift tents, being pulled along the streets of casablanca in a wagon behind a donkey, being hackedinto pieces and sold tou tourists.
- broken down farm machinery lying abandoned in a paddock which even in this most foreign of circumstances fills my head with visions of the paddocks at home.
- tents tied to palm trees that people actually live in. as an aside- where do palm trees actually belong? coz i think they look as out of place here as they do on the rumble stip at Munno Para.
- a bitumen road winding through expanses of brown dirt and rubble, spotted with rubbish, the occasional settlement and actual shepherds, bringing their sheep and goats home at the end of the day.
- Arabic writing that ive only seen on news reports, but a Sudoku in a newspaper that ive seen in every country ive been to.
- a multihued menagerie of women in djellaba, fixing their head scarves the way western women readjust their ponytails.
- intricate henna tattos lacing aroundteh fingers of a beautifully attired serene looking woman, also on her feet so that it looks like shes wearing floral patterned skin coloured socks.
- tan and red mud buildings reaching into the blue sky which today is a little bit hazy.
- rows of fruit stalls with their owner placed picture perfectly in the middle, but when i try to take that perfect picture he waves a finger at me, im not going to argue.

ok ive just decided i should be outside taking pictures ( not of men in fruit stalls) but ill just finish the smells and sounds.

Sounds like

- the tinny arabic music piped through the bus- is it unappreciative to block it our with an i-pod?
- a babble of french and arabic rising and falling until i dont know what language they are speaking and its unclear if anyone is really understanding each other.
- the horn on the bus that toots at pedestrians, motorbikes, trucks and anything that gets in the way. if they didnt get out of the way i dont think the bus driver would stop.
- the encouraging calls of the fishmongers, luring anyone who shoows the slightest interest to sit down and eat.

Smells like

- burning
- meat on a grill, a bbq thats too hard to order from
- fish food, and thats exactly what it is, a man selling bait on the footpath.
- more seafood, this time on my hands from the massive seafood lunch that we ate and undoubtedly didnt do a very good job bargaining for.

Feels like

-im in africa, what am i doing in africa?
-im in africa, could this be one of the most different things ive seen?
- im in morocco, is this one of the stupidest things ive ever done
- im in morocco, in an internet cafe, is that one of the stupidest things ive ever done, should i be out there appreciating this?
- how do i appreciate this when my stomach is full of knots?
- well get to marrakech tomorrow, that will be better
- what if i get to marrakech tomorrow and its not better?
- when will i ever have this oppurtunity again, just get out there and try to smile.

More from Marrakech xoxoxo

Alright its time for an update, and for all those worried about me not making the most of my time here, I promise you I have. For all those worried about me full stop, thanks and thanks for your mails. Writing the first part of the blog was very therapeutic and i walked out of the internet cafe with fresh eyes. We had had a baptism of fire, and while nothing really went wrong there was so much in our heads that could go wrong it took us awhile to get it all back on track. But that afternoon I sat near the beach and read, and felt the wind blow off the water and watched teh children play and the sunset against the red walls and I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief that made it all the way out of my chest.

So heres Morocco Part 2, take a look what rose from the ashes......

At Mums request im gonna start with

Tastes Like

- Super sweet mint tea, soooooo good, brings back memories of sucking the tips of those pink flowers at Primary School.
- Strong spicy tomato harira and another one that was less tomato- spicy, smooth all good!
- a gorgeous selection of little biscuits, coconut, almond, pastry- but stay away from those happy cakes!!!
- charcoal grilled seafood, rubbery calamari slathered in lime, creamy crab and salty, buttery shrimp.
- tagine cooked in a massive vat in the middle of the medina, mixed with couscous and to die for eggplant that melts in the mouth ( i was thinking of you marissa!)
- cool clear bubbly water spritzing up my nose and down my throat- the best refreshment.

Looks Like

- Sahara orange and peacock blue, royal purple and too good to eat chocolate scarves, bedspreads and cushion covers.
- narrow lanes and rabbit warren mazeways full of jewellery and hats, sunnies and scarves, slippers, shoes, masks and madness.
- a live cobra flaring and fuming like a very dangerous pigeon ( is at about 2 metres away fom it!!)
- blue doorways and whitewashed walls.... how do they stay white when my skin and teeth are covered in dust!
- Jamie Olivers dream come true- triangular piles of every spice under the sun.

Feels Like

- Its ok, i can do this.
- Did i see that in a postcard?
- HOT!!! Sweaty clammy skin and a fan that barely disturbs the current.

Sounds Like

- The laughs of the Moroccan children as they laugh and jump, smiling coyly and then fully posing for photos taken by the funny tourists.
- The click, clatter, click of young boys playing knuckles with rocks.
- Look is for free, i make you good price for beautiful smile
- Where you from, Australia? Ah Kangaroo!
- 500 camels for you, 500 camels for you, and one house each, you live with me.............. ah yeah, pass!
- The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah
The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah

(thats just in my head!!)

Additional photos below
Photos: 36, Displayed: 30


Prayer roomPrayer room
Prayer room

In the middle of the markets- only for men i think.
Seafood Feast- EssaouiraSeafood Feast- Essaouira
Seafood Feast- Essaouira

A bit like Jimbaran Bay idea but not beautiful beaches
The Turning PointThe Turning Point
The Turning Point

This little boy showed off for Cheridas camera when we were sitting reading by the water... and i began to think that maybe this place wasnt so god forsaken after all.
Night market dinner- MarrakechNight market dinner- Marrakech
Night market dinner- Marrakech

Yummy veggies and tagine.
Night MarketNight Market
Night Market


14th July 2007

sounds like...
Nice post! I think its the most honest, and seemingly the most 'real' experience you've had to date. Europe is like a fairyland of sorts where everything is easy. Sounds like Morocco for you is one of those experiences that makes you think twice about everything, an experience that you dont really enjoy at the time, an experience in a place so different you cant tell if you are on vacation or living out some sort of excommunication. But I think no matter what happens, when you leave that place you will look back and say, "That was the best experience I had in travelling 6 months through 15 countries!! (I HOPE! :) ) Make the best of it and take lots of pictures please! Ohh yeah, and gut feelings are usually right, so try not to loiter around at night- rule #1 in unsafe countries!!!
15th July 2007

You will never be there again
Amy, I understand your anxious but you are with someone, not alone just try and enjoy it. Look at what is beautiful you may never be there again Thinking of you here in very WET Osaka!!
15th July 2007

What an amazing read. You have a talent to paint a picture, I thought I was reading a Wilbur Smith novel. No, a thriller like Dick Francis. The scary thing I know its you, and I want you to come home. You are a wise young thing, and I know you are trusting your instincts and that will be enough, but the maternal non travelled me says "OH my God." Looking forward to the next part of your adventure Love and awe from Lol
15th July 2007

omg Amy!
You are certainly having SOME major adventures! Please be careful and safe!!
16th July 2007

just enjoy
Amy, i loved your 1st impressions of moroccco. make the best of your time there.
16th July 2007

It had been a while since your last entry, I was wondering what you were up to. Sounds like a real adventure. Enjoy it, and stay safe. Rock the Casbah -- great song.
19th July 2007

World Traveller
I'm glad to hear your time in Morocco has improved but I did find the first part of your impressions fascinating - interesting but scary! I would have totally freaked out too! It really sounds, smells, tastes and feels like you are in a totally different world! I thought I was a world traveller! Good on you! Can't wait to see you in Japanland very soon!! xxxx
11th September 2007

The Streets of Marekesh
Hey! I like the photos, looks so 'desert oasis' in contrast to your last Germany pics! I rated a few. I liked the exotic feeling of everything, its definitely not Europe! Blackmanx fever has caught on, we are all eagerly awaiting your next post!!

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