A woman carries a head-full of leaves past the colourful walls in Morocco.
Before I begin, a Glossary of Terms:
"Hil-aaaaaaaaaaaaair-eous": somewhat amusing.
"Mil-aaaaaaaaaaaaair-ea": kinda like hilarious, but not funny.
"Thanks for comin’": you bloody idiot.
"I give you good price": I’ll rip you off as much as possible, you ignorant tourist.
"Come upstairs, just a look": Come upstairs so I can rip you off as much as possible, you ignorant tourist.
"Would you like some mint tea?": So I can rip you off as much as possible, you ignorant tourist.
"C’mon Ted": C’mon Ted.
"Go on go on go on go on": Please Ted!
"You will you will you will": C’mon Ted, please!
"As subtle as a hand-grenade in a bowl of oatmeal": pretty shaggin’ obvious!
"As XYZ as a busload of Berbers": random context.
"As blind as Samuel-the-one-eyed-camel": as blind as Samuel-the-one-eyed-camel.
I think you get the picture.
The day started well, what with the Alien Registration (Yes, that is the actual name of the department) people’s timely stamping of my passport, validating my right to live/work in Eire "til the following May (thus avoiding Immigration hassle en route), followed by another prac test with X Advertising, thereby landing me a new job (despite instilling mammoth fear in having to return to work to resign just hours before I leave). Being the world’s most understanding boss she says, "Did everything go okay with Immigration?" to which I replied, "Erm, yes, and, um… I have something else to tell you."
After surviving the ordeal and getting through the afternoon’s minimal work as was possible, the great KT (who I shall call Ted from now on, although she is known to Moroccans as "Kai Tai") and I meet up and hit the airport. When I witness Ted at work in the duty-free, I foresee the potential shopping hazard Morocco might bring.
Anywayz, some grub, some liquids, some more liquid and giddy-girly flight later (suitably pissing off two aul’ ones to our left already!), we arrive in not only a new country, but a new continent: our first time in Africa. In the airport I had my first observation of the prominence of salmon pink – later I was to become aware of the whole country’s obsession with the colour! – courtesy of some fabulously decked-out pastel porters/the mosaic-ed colour scheme in general). From there it was to "Aa-ga-dir dir dir, push pineapple shake the tree," a verse we insist on going into (with exaggerated actions, of course) every time we/anyone mentions the word.
Orange, blue, green – and, of course, Morocco’s favourite, salmon-pink – all in one colourful alley.
After a reasonably sleepless night, both shagged and excited I set off pre-breaky for a scout around (that) town (I shan’t mention the name too often, for obvious reasons), in search of sun, sand and sea. Lecherous Muslim men later, plus a stroll on the beach and finding sun, sand and sea, I head back to meet Ted for breaky. We take advantage of the beach/surf, so lacking in our collective lives, but the constant hassling to buy this, buy that and be the object of much perving, drives us nuts (arguably already a predisposition!).
The lack of tan-able sun, too, inspires me to go for a long stroll on the beach, where I’m hassled some more, and befriended by a Berber who just won’t go away, despite my diversion tactics; I even walk throughthe surf, whereby he stays on the shore to avoid getting his sandals wet, until I’m forced onto dry land. I jog back to Ted, though after more hassling we’re driven to drink. H2O that is. So we head back to Hotel "WAZEECE" (Oasis, for those non-Moroccan), courtesy of two little kids offering – for pocket money – to carry our (bloody heavy!) six-pack of the said fluids. Sweeties. Then after a nice seaweed bath and a few drinks at the bar, it was a very tame start to the week.
Okay. Time to get organ-azised. After breaky we decide to sort our week’s plans.
Deciding on camel-trekking, a daytrip to Tiznit/Tafraout/the Atlas Mountains and Marrakech, we realise we need to change more money – already! We want to make the Marrakech trip independently, as the one offered seems like a rip-off, but we’re advised (or rather, deterred) by the commission-interested travel rep not to travel by ourselves because of the "danger" and "inconvenience." Just as we’re about to make like sheep and book, we run into "Paul", who I shall refer to as "Anto" (pronounced in your best north-of-the-Liffey-Dub accent) from here on in.
As we get talking, we discover Anto’s been here a week and has made some independent side-trips. He tells us he’s heading to Marrakech the next morning. No way! Let’s do it! Surely male company will divert some of the harassment – at the very least, they’ll think we’re two of his allowed four wives. "Oh yes, five steps behind, oh master!"
After a bit of discussion, we re-schedule the camel trek and purchase a ticket for a 4am departure to Marrakech. 4am! Are you mad? Possibly. But it makes sense as it’s a four-hour trip, so we can maximise our time there.
So. It’d be sensible to have a quiet night in, a good night’s sleep for the early rise, then. Yes, it’d be sensible, but this is Ted and me we’re talkin’ about here, and I’m almost certain that, as a rule, "sensible" wouldn’t be the word most used to describe our antics! So we have a wee drink, head off for a lovely (albeit fiercely windy) walk on the promenade, have a coffee at Weintraube Tavern – with every intention of doing "the sensible". Now you know when I say, "with every intention", that something goes amiss. Oh yes!
"All of a sudden" (as if we had no control over our paces!) we’re in a karaoke bar. "Now c’mon Ted, we’ll just have a wee drink, sing a wee song and be done, Ted, to be sure". Ahem. God (or perhaps, the sober Anto – don’t know how he endured our company for so long!) only knows how many songs later (one song to the oh-okay-just-one-more-beer ratio – karaoke queens), "Jaysus Ted, it’s nearly 2am! We have to be up at 3!" We stagger, stumble, then run when Ted "overreacts just a tad" about some eejits I can scarcely remember.
We get to Wazeece and foolishly ponder, "Hey Ted, I wonder what the hotel nightclub’s like?". No need to ponder that for much longer than the time it took to nearly fall down the unlit stairs, miraculously without breaking an ankle between us. Figuring we’re in no state to dance "in Arabic" (a bit like singing in Braille?), as Ted falls into one of the couches I boogie for a split-second, and she says (most articulately), "lez ged oudda ‘ere".
"What’s that about Ted?" Can’t sleep, can’t sleep, gotta get up in half an hour, can’t sleep." Just when I’m about to go into that lovely heavy slumber, brrrng, brrrng. "That’ll be m’phone, Ted." Aaaaaaaaargh, I feel woozy.
Ted, Anto and I meet up as, gasp, "planned"!
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