Marra-bleedin’-kech! A very poor choice of adjective there, which I’ll go into later.
During the freezin’ bus journey, I think we slept, as I wake up surrounded by red cliffs, pink housing and desert, which induces my first jaw-dropping wow.
At the "breaky stop" we fall out of the bus, run to the loo, throw down the first drinkable Cafe Au Lait, and, er, "moroccan cake" at godknowswhathour. Anto observes (ever-so-politely), "You guys look like shit." Fair point really. We pour ourselves back on to the bus. The scenery is extraordinary a shame I can’t appreciate it as much as I hope to on the return trip.
Our arrival is perfectly timed as it is just like those hours before a thunderstorm when you know/can feel something’s about to happen watching it build in the sky, then crescendoing into climactic madness. We watch people scurry about, setting up market stalls; the trademark beige hatchback taxis race all over the place; goats and horses; "alive" (though not for long!) chooks on the backs of countless scooters; odd animal remnants hang in stalls; the Djema el Fna is a congestion of assorted buskers, beckoning photography (for a small fee), including snake charmers, monkey-trainers (though particularly cruel), colourfully-dressed-cymbal-playing-dancing-wailing-blokes, henna-etching
women all part of the labyrinth that is "the souk", that is Marrakech.
Tradition, colour, texture, the true stench of "real" Morocco rises and falls as the day’s activities ebb and flow. Sorry, I can’t avoid getting all poetic it’s a live audio-visual treat!
Mid-souk, my wooziness and stomach cramps get out of control. Oh dear menstrual in Marrakech? In the rush of the wee hour, did I forget my tampons? Feck Ted Feck. "Ted quick, need sudden exit." C’mon Anto (who’s no clue what the fuss is about).
How d’we get out of this maze? To paraphrase Snagglepuss, "temergatroid!, exit, stage left, or right, or feck, whatever it takes." We hunt for a pharmacy. We find one. "Erm, erm," I say, slightly anxious. How to ask for tampons in Arabic wasn’t in the ol’ phrase guide. Ted is pissing herself at this stage. I’m nearly doubled over for completely different reasons. In perfect English a man behind the counter says, "Can I help you?" Oh good. "Erm, yes, well," I continue, criss-crossing my legs like a two-year-old bursting for the loo. "I’d, erm, like…" Ted is nearly on the floor laughing.
That all-knowing glance from female to female comes from a woman behind the counter, and the male continues, "Is there something in particular you want?" fully aware that the word "tampon" isn’t escaping my breath. "Erm, yes, actually," I mumble, glancing at Ted, "for feck’s sake, wooja stop laughin’!" Wielding a ginormous, blue box screaming TAMPAX at me and the rest of Marrakech the good man presents his arm.
"Er, yeah, cheers, thanks, let’s get the hey out!" and back to our fave caf.
"Er, guys, wanna order yet ANOTHER mint tea while I, er, check the facilities?" I return: "Jaysus, Ted, it’s not menstrual cramps, but bloody dodgyrrea." Six quid for those user-unfriendly training-wheel tampax (am I the only female that doesn’t know
how to use those applicator ones?), and I don’t even need them (not to be wasted however: Anto, in the ultimate test of his artistic flair, will be putting them to great use in his upcoming sculpture).
The day goes on. I get as much "shit"/"toilet" humour as I deserve/can bear, and in between "regular" bathroom intervals we have a blast, get lost, haggle, try couscous, more mint tea, pastries, whilst avoiding all things non-compatible with my digestive tract. And, above all, we chill. Just watching this whole "living circus" is mind-blowing. Incidentally, I wouldn’t wanna be Hendrix or Dylan on acid now: the senses are heightened quite enough naturally. We fall into a cab, then make the seemingly longer (but equally divine) bus trip back to Aa-ga-dir dir dir push pineapple, shake the tree.
Ted and Jeanette, in their haggled Moroccan garb, stand with what has to be a much-happy yet oft-blushing Anto.
Beginning with lots of relaxing, lying by the pool, table-tennising (sheer class!); we "work that tan baby" and kill ourselves in the gym. It being "Camel Eve", we again opt for a quiet night and head off for some Mexican (when in Rome?). Three hours later we haven’t had a thing to eat (or drink honest!), but run into the hotel after running down the streets of Aa-ga-dir dir dir push pineapple, shake the tree in traffic-stopping fashion: Ted in her salmon-pink (of course) kaftan and fuchsia veil, me in my purple with gold embroidery Sindibad (think I Dream of Jeanie) and "matching" Berber scarf. There are doubletakes from Anto, Harry and Sally (after he met her), as they eventually recognise us! No dinner, but some damn fine haggling, at the risk of a few slimeballs kissing and groping (shudder) when trying on the clothes, and tell me folks, is 5000 camels for marriage a good deal in this day and age? Anyway, y’needn’t fret, I won’t be bringin’ home Achmed.
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