_Staying in 2005, I took a trip to Morocco and the Sahara in April of that year beginning the journey in the funny named town of Ouarzazate (pronounced Wa-za-zat). Ouarzazate is also a notable film making location with Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy and Gladiator all being shot here. It’s the gateway to the Sahara - and that’s where I was headed, across the Draa Valley and into the desert for 2 nights camping. Memorable moments include 1 of our convoy getting stuck under a bridge, my first ever camel ride, picking a goat up at the market to cook traditionally in a big hole in the ground later, driving blindly through a sand storm to our first night’s camp (we made it!) and eating more than enough aubergine for my liking. I also stupidly took a whole pack of Imodium prior to the camping and then felt like champagne must feel - couped up in that bottle before the cork pops – 2 days later… Constipated in the toilet tent with only scarab beetles for company is not much fun!
Now, on the other side of the coin, my Kasbah du Toubkal experience was amazing. I was invited for lunch and after 2 days of aubergine and couscous, the tagine and freshly baked bread was simply delicious. Sitting in the shade, eating this fantastic food and drinking hot sweet berber tea, conversing high up in the Atlas mountains with stunning scenery all around, I had to ask myself – was I really working? Hand on heart I was, and the day got tougher when we started trekking. On reflection, I think I should have trekked first and eaten after. You certainly realise how unfit you are when you start walking up mountains on a full stomach! Although, I like to think it was the altitude ;)
I also fell in love driving the winding mountainous roads through the High Atlas with sheer drops and sometimes not even being able to see oncoming traffic (if it's time to jump off this mortal coil, at least do it in style) and Marrakech itself especially the famous Djemaa el-Fna square at night. Be dazzled and wowed by the heart and soul (quite literally) of goats and sheep available to eat, rooftop bars, snake charmers and the old dude dancing with a chicken on his head.
I’m going to end this little post with my crazy hammam experience. Luckily it wasn't a public one! A hammam for those of you wondering is a steam filled chamber where you lay down and get bathed, scrubbed, kneaded, knocked about, gently battered and cleansed by a hefty Moroccan lady - oh yes, and in just your knickers. And don't you dare move without their consent... I think the best way to embrace the experience is to let all inhibitions out the window - not that there are any windows. And so it began - first the oiling, then the getting doused with bucket after bucket of soapy water - was I really that dirty?! Nothing however can prepare you for the intense scrubbing in every crack, orifice and so on and so forth of your body. And don't think because you have knickers on... So glad I didn't have any sunburn. They call the scrubbing mitt a kese and offer it to you as a souvenir on your way out. That's after dumping the final bucket of water - this time cold - unceremoniously over your head!
For the fainted hearted and prim? No.
Even the relaxing massage afterwards, with the scented oil that soaked into the skin beautifully, began slightly insanely as my masseuse was babbling away at me in French during the preparation. You would think I’d know the French for “take your bra off and leave your knickers on” off by heart by now with the amount of times she had to say it to me…
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Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.