20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog

Rainy Djama

More rain



Djemma el Fna




After yesterday's rain I woke up to a clear blue sky for the journey to Marrakech. There is an almost equivalent train and bus system in most of Northern Morocco, they are generally both fast and comfortable so my main reason for choosing one over the other is the location of the stations at either side. I was staying in between both stations in Casa but I chose the bus as the bus station in M'kech is more convenient than the train station. I got to the bus station a bit early so I sat in the cafeteria drinking nice cafe au laits and had a pan au chocolate for breakfast. As I looked out over the bus area it started chucking it down again. I've no idea where the clouds had come from but they were obviously big ones.

It continued to rain for the three and a half hour trip. When we pulled into the station in Marrakech it wasn't the bus station I was expecting. I had read somewhere that CTM, the national bus company, were building a new station there, well it looks like they've finished it. Unfortunately it wasn't on my map and other than the fact I knew we were in the new town I had no idea where I was. I put my waterproof cover on my pack, although the rain had eased off now, and thought about getting a taxi. The usual touts soon found me and were asking Dh40 - it's 8km they said. I've been to Marrakech before and more importantly so has my GPS, the taxi drivers were a little perplexed when I took it out and turned it on. I'm not sure if they were impressed or pissed off when I showed them "Djama - 2.79km". Whichever, they wouldnt' budge on price and being pig-headed I set off to walk. I realised that this was a huge risk with the rain but I did manage to follow the direction pointer all the way to the Medina before it started raining again. The first hotel I tried was full, the second, Hotel CTM overlooking the main square had a single for Dh100 and after a quick glance at the room and the now torrential again rain I took it. Bit of a mistake really, the place was the biggest flee pit I've stayed in since India 20 years ago. The toilet when I finally found it was beyond description.

In between rain bursts I managed to get out and get something to eat. It cleared up later on and I had a very long walk to a supermarket, so long that I almost ended up walking out of Marrakech. At the city limits and start of the hills I decided I must have passed it so turned around, finding it about a third of the way back. I restocked my snack supply and got a proper un-seedy bottle of booze. Back at the dosshouse I seriously considered forfitting my Dh100 and going to find somewhere else but I stuck it out and strangly the bed was quite comfortable and I slept really well. As in many substandard hotels the walls had their fair share of graffiti, one of the messages said "Go to Hotel Mimosa, cheaper, nicer, cleaner". First thing this morning I found the Mimosa and they were right, I now have a lovely room, all tiles and fancy plasterwork, in a small riad for Dh70.

I hate Riads, too noisy, all rooms around a tiled courtyard - bad idea. I nearly got violent with the bonehead who decided to play his guitar at 1:30 this morning.

I've been having some superb culinary experiences over the last week or so in Morocco but I went step too far a in Marrakech and ordered Chicken Pastilla. I knew that it was a pastry dish and a speciality of the area. I also thought that you could get sweet or savory pastilla, I didn't realise that it was both. The best way I can describe it is bakewell tart filled with chicken, not quite disgusting but very bizarre. I managed to finish it but wish I hadn"t as I couldn't get the taste out of my mind for a whole day.

Marrakech is still as crazy as ever and with the Christmas holiday season the Djemma is heaving every evening, when the sun sets the madness begins. I love the noise of the drums but the pipes give me the heeby jeebies, whenever I hear them I know that there is a cobra nearby.

I'm leaving Marrakech today, I wanted to trek near Mount Toubkal, possibly to climb it depending on weather but I've tried for the best part of 2 days to find the bus there. The taxi touts told me that there isn't one and now I think I might believe them, it does look very white up there from here so maybe the service is suspended for the winter.

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