End of Tour in Marakesh

Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
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Trip End Jan 25, 2009


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Where I stayed
Cat's Hostel

Flag of Morocco  ,
Sunday, August 27, 2006

Today ends an unbelievable two weeks in Morocco with so many stories and memories to last a life time. I leave this country feeling totally satisfied and long to come back. I have been blessed with meeting some of the most beautiful people, both in the tour and locally (Maria you rock!). I've also been blessed with having yet another outstanding leader with Intrepid. Summer, you are absolutely sensational and thank you so much for a fantastic time in what is an amazing country. All the best for your marriage to Yasseen in February. It was a pleasure meeting your family, local friends and soon to be husband Yasseen.

We arrived in Marakesh on Friday afternoon. Our accommodation is Hotel La Menara in a very central location close to the main square and Souk (market). The beauty of the hotel is that it has yet another pool to laze around which I did this afternoon. The tan is returning!

On Friday evening, we had the pleasure of attending Summer's family's home for dinner. Here we met Summer's adopted mum, uncle Habidi and brother Esrin. The house is situated in an upmarket area of Marakesh and is simply beautiful... three stories with very large gathering rooms on each floor with beautiful porcelain decorated walls. For dinner we had whole chickens encased in a mint sauce with bread to assist in eating. No forks or knives here... all communal eating. At the end of the evening, I remained with Claire and Summer in the home. In my drive to experience as many local experiences as possible I joined the uncle and brother on a night out on the town. We visited three pubs... they were not as sleazy as I was led to believe but I did get very drunk tonight... the most I've been for many years. To say the least I did not feel very good in the morning.

My digital camera's battery has died. In a drive to replace it, Maria and I went for a walk to the local camera shop. Luckily Maria speaks French so did all the talking. At first, the shop keepers said they had no battery in stock and would have to go to another shop to get the 10b lithium battery I need. I had to hand over a 250 dirham deposit (40 dollars) before they would even attempt to help me! This would take half an hour so Maria and I had pepsi and tea in a local men only cafe. They returned with what I thought was a solution to my camera problem. NOOOO! They came back with a size 12b battery and were adamant it would work. But the problem is that the battery was too big... the shop keeper jammed the battery into the camera where it got stuck. I was so tired that I wasn't thinking straight. Next thing I know, to both Maria and my amazement is that they used a spoon to try to get it out. The strange thing is that they were adamant that it was the RIGHT battery and it would work after being charged. Do THEY think we are stupid. They were so desperate to make the sale that they made up all these excuses that it was the right battery. I asked for a refund. But... given that the girl had to go to another shop by taxi, instead of receiving my 650 dirham payment, I received 640 to cover the 10 dirham taxi fare. Can you believe it! But like Maria, I was very glad to get out of the shop to what could of been a very nasty experience involving the police. So no more shots for now.

Our final night was spent at Palais Jad Mahal, a beautiful restaurant, lounge and club with belly dancers and South American performers. A very expensive evening at 425 dirham for a 3 course meal but so worth it. I was very much taken aback by the outstanding performances which were very Arabian and exquistely done with amazing costumes, make up and dancing. A night to remember. A dry night tonight... I have nearly recovered from my intoxicated state on Friday night. After dinner Summer took us to a local club for drinks and dancing... the local men are especially good at the things they do on the dance floor.

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This entry marks the end of 8 months on the road and my time in Europe/Africa. Without a doubt, Morocco rates up there as being one of my favourite destinations on this trip RTW and I can highly recommend the Colours of Morocco Intrepid tour. You will NOT be disappoined if you get Summer as your leader. The warm hospitality, beautiful sights and local experiences have made Morocco a highly rated holiday destination despite its opressive heat at times. The overwhelming positives have outweighed the negatives. The climate was hot, reaching 50 degrees at times but the pools at the hotels made up for that. Clearly the Hammam was the highlight as was trekking through the Todra Gorge and High Atlas Mountains. I have fallen in love with the Islam world and will definitely prioritise this over any return to Europe. In terms of money, Morocco is not cheap... definitely not as cheap as Asian countries but still very good value for money.

BRING ON SOUTH AMERICA... my much awaited final continent.

I have a full on travel itinerary over the next 3 days. The plan is to catch an overnight train to Tangier (10 hours in a first class seat... leave at 9pm tonight and arrive into Tangier at 7am). I then get the ferry from Tangier to Tofina, a bus to Algecires and then hope to catch the 3pm express train to Madrid, hopefully arriving in Madrid at 9pm tomorrow evening. I will stay at Cat's Hostel on Monday night, before boarding my 12.15pm 11 hour flight to Quito, Ecuador on Tuesday with Gab. All going well, you will hear from me again on my arrival in ECUADOR, SOUTH AMERICA.

M'assalama from Morocco and Hola Quito!
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