|Sunday 30 October and our 40th wedding anniversary!
After leaving Ouazarzate we stopped at an ancient Kasbah, restored and used by the film studios, who are still supplying the funds to continue the restoration ( people live in here still). The journey through to Marrakesh wound through and over the High Atlas Mountains- red soil, steep gorges and forests of pine and cedar. Some of the villages could hardly be distinguished from the colour of the surround_ings. Quite a bit of cultivation, fields of green mint, almonds and olives.
Marrakesh is a city of 3 million people, and the entrance is surprisingly attractive, with treelined wide streets and parks, until we reach the Medina. Haji leaves us at the entrance- he was a very nice, quiet man and an attentive driver- we did enjoy travlleing with him. In 5 minutes we find ourselves at the Hotel Afriquia ( Shane we decided to upgrade as it was a special day for us). At the reception we met a girl from Christchurch and within 5 minutes Merilynn had arranged to visit a Hammam ( bathhouse)with her at 4pm.
We go for a quick explore around the famous square Djemma el Fna- snake charmers, acrobats, storytellers, henna hand painters, fortune tellers, herbalists, horse and carriage rides, orange juice stalls, and restaurants setting up for the night. A cacaphony of sounds coming from hundreds of locqls, tourists, drummers and cymbals clashing.
At 4 Theresa and I set out for the hammam, just a couple of minutes away, neither of us knowing exactly what would take place. Inside, the tow bathhouse ladies did not speak english, but a newly arrived woman translated for us, and we proceeded to divest ourselves of our clothes. We then walked through one room where a mother was washing her two protesting children, and entered a heated tiled room, joining several other naked women. Seated on the warm tiled floor our bathhouse attendant proceeded to wash us with warm water, soaping us all over, and then one by one she rubbed us with what felt like an oven mit until dirty skin peeled off us, much to our horror and her amusement. This was followed by a rinsing and then a massage. Looking like drowned rats we dried off, paid our 50 dirhams and slowly walked back to the hotel, feeling pleasantly refreshed.
As we were tired we put off our special night until the 31st.
31 October. Spent the day wandering the square, then took a taxi to the newer area where we managed to find a camera repair shop that said they may be able to ressurect our digital. Foud a couple of english bookshops, one of which was an American language university, where we bought some books and promised to drop off the spare ones we had.
I succumbed to a lime green outfit to wear to dinner, and after some time we went back to the camer shop where a miracle occured for 220 dirhams and our camer is back in action- for how long we're not sure, but it is such a relief.
Shane had recommended a restaurant to visit and we had booked it earlier in the day.
At 8.30pm (it felt sooo good to be dressed up instead of looking like a scruffy backpacker!) we sat down at Le Marrakchi. It has an upstairs terraced enlosed area, and tables strewn with rose petals, lit by candles- just lovely (great choice Shane). A delicious meal and a cold bottle of Morrocan Gris wine from Meknes made our 40th celebration very special.
01 Nov-Sad outcome of last night- Brian has Moroccan belly....ah well, maybe it was the local beer he had before the wine....! As the locals say- drinking during Ramadan is bad for you.
PS- nup- it was the dubious soup he was offered at the hammam, after Ramadan ended in the evening!