I would like to begin by suggesting that ...

Trip Start Jun 01, 2002
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Trip End Sep 11, 2007


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Flag of Morocco  ,
Monday, August 26, 2002

I would like to begin by suggesting that the lonely planet people add a new paragraph to their lonely planet guides for morocco.

'Dear Traveller so you have decided to travel to Morocco : well congratulations;we at lonely planet suggest the following before taking off, spend the previous 5 years learning French or Arabic, now I do not mean learn a few words or something, you will need to be completely fluent in either language to even get out of the airport. Now unless you are like a Mr Cormack - that has no idea how to speak either language, than we suggest that you do your degree in drama acting and in charades, as that is only the way you are going to be partly understood - you will not get where you want to be but you will entertain the locals. love from lonely planet.'

Yes that is right I am now in Morocco and having the hardest time trying to understand anything!!! Now before I bore you to death with adventures so far - lets go back a little while. Note - excuse me as I am using a French Keyboard so it could be a bit over the place...

On the plane to good old London town and to catchup with Jez, 12 hour flight sitting in the midde aisle with a Sth African on my right who wanted to tell me the History of Sth Africa since 1412......

Got to Heathrow and as normal got lost several times and had to let off my emergency beacon for the rescue people to come and find me. The plan was to meet Jez after I checked through customs and have a few beers - but with 200 million people trying to get through customs this could take a while.... so I thought I would try and cheat the system - by heading across to the first class check through point. Bingo bango with a few smiles to the young lady acting as the door bitch - I am through customs in 12 mins. Yes 12 mins and I was the last off the plan - one for the Australian, rest of world zero.

Caught up with Jez and what else to do when you have 6 hours on your hands - is head to the pub. Was great to catch up and by the end feeling quite tipsy... After paying a small fortune in beer back at the airport to get my flight to Morocco. Now once I found the terminal and checked the gate number I proceeded through customs. Now me being a dickhead, for some reason I packed my pocket knife in my hand luggage in Sth Africa - got through Sth Africa airport but London would not have a bar of it - as the knife was given tome by a mate I did not want it destroyed... so I tried to find Jez to no avail so in a panic and plane to catch in 11 mins, I went to the 'Special Needs' counter and asked them to put it in lost property and I can get someone to collect it - no problems said the guy.... Ah ha ' Australia 2, rest of world zero... so through customs and heading to Gate 56 - they could have said gate 27,698 because I had to be a Marathon runner to get there... now as my mind is all over the place I have taken out the bag that contained my music discs and guess what dickhead has left them behind at the airport and guess what dickhead now has a minidisk player but no music..... hmmm

Landing in Morocco at 7.30 and catching a train to Rabat where I thought I would go and get some culture. This is exactly where the French would have come in very frickn handy. If I hear once more 'I speak noah Englisk' I am going to scream! So on the train after implementing charade number 234 of me acting like a train and tooting in the air. I get my ticket. Sitting on the train and this guy comes and starts talking French to me - looking I look blankly and say I speaka noah English...blankly he smiles and leaves. So feeling shitty that I have no knife and more worst no music I started to read my book - he comes back and in broken English we chat ' turns out that he is the train driver and guess who got an invite to the drivers cabin and got to toot the tooter. Yes I now know hello, goodye and thank you in French and I now know how to drive a French train..... watch out world ' Australia 3 rest of world zero.... I think I entertained him with my crap French and Arabic, not sure if he appreciated being spat on each time I tried my Arabic tongue.

3 hours I am at Rabat and I have selected a hotel in the lonely planet - but no taxi wants to take me because I cannot speak their language. So it is about 10pm and I am walking the streets trying to find a room - money is no object at the moment. As I round the corner, it is like finding gold there is a hotel-prison. I say prison because for 20 AUD I get basin, and bed. But I really could not care.....

Next day great day 'perfect weather, I stroll aimlessly around the old medina walls. The Moroccan people are so friendly and will smile at you all the time '- I give an uncomfortable 'Are you going to rob me or sell me something smile back to them' - Rabat is a beautiful city it is like time has not changed it, tiny alley streets, people dressed in traditional clothes and to confirm my thoughts I am the only 'Foreigner in the whole of Rabat'.

As I am walking around I run into a man who speaks great English and before I know (and before agreeing I now have a guide), we buy some spices and vegetables and he takes me back to his place for some traditional lunch. Now believe me I am in the mindset of trusting people but a 15 min cab ride away from my hotel I started to have second thoughts. But experience is all that it is about and this will be a great experience when I am murdered in Morocco. All in all it is good, we sit and talk and drink tea and cook the meal which is amazing! He then asks me to stay the night - but that is my signal to bail. Leave a nice tip and a taxi back. More charades at the train station and I have a ticket to Marrakech - the city of El Fna (Food Market) and snake charmers!!!

Meet an English couple on the train who spoke English and French and it was an absolute pleasure to hold a normal conversation with them. Will most likely catch up with them when they get to Marrakech and head east to some waterfalls... will have to hire a car.... 5 hours on the train (no driving this time) and I am in a taxi with two local Moroccan guys in Marrakech, one who has spent 6 years in the USA - so now I am set English chit chat and local chit chat to get good prices. Last night headed into the food market and what a sight. If anyone gets the opportunity to come to Morocco get yourself to the Place El Fna it is a constant carnival and the best Fresh Orange juice for 40 cents ' it is everywhere.... Food was great. Wondered around listening to music and watching acrobats until 2am and then went back to our cell ooh I mean hotel room, which we were quite lucky to get - if I was on my own I would have been in trouble I think!!!

All in all life is good ' exhausting work this travel thing but much better than the real work.... Must take off now and try and learn a couple more French words - like water and food would be handy!!!

Until next time - Australia 3 rest of world has beaten me to a pulp and spat me out....
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parlez vous anglais indeed
Yep It pays to learn another language I got lucky a set of parents who insisted I learn french because Jacqueline Kennedy spoke it so I have been studying it on and off since age 8 So when I got stuck in the Casablanca airport and decided to go to a hotel to sit out the bad weather (mauvais temps) i was fine .... You should buy a Rosettsa Stone program on the internet it will save your arse ... You can order all sorts of exotic languages and its quicker than taking an immersion course at Berlitz Right now Im learning chinese (mandarin dialect) will be in Nanking in May 06 I will let you know how the language thing went As far as the mMorroccans felt about an American who could actually communicate with them they were flabbergasted ( it seems we have a rep we have not vistied since 9-11 and we insist on being monolingual...) well it was fun blowing that perception away we even dicussed biology and politics and ate lots of lamb (hard to get in the states except for New York ...

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