My journey started in Casablanca Morroco. I did not have much local currency on me so my first task was to get some. First, my splendid ATM bank card was not accepted in three machines so I suspected it could have been faulty. Without much thought I put in my credit card to withdraw some money…..big mistake… Voila!!! It swallowed my card before I could fathom what had happened! I pondered if it was wise to cancel my card and just head to Marrakech on the train at 9 am the next day as planned surviving on whatever Euros I had, or wait and retrieve my card before I go. I really couldn’t let that thought consume me the whole night, so I headed to the local souk, went to bed early and I decided to think about it only in the morning.
When I awoke I felt it wise to have my credit card before heading off and surprisingly( my bad experience dealing with banks in Abu Dhabi left a bitter taste in my mouth) without as much effort as I thought Id have to muster, I got it all in time to catch the 11 am train instead. Which brings me to the next lesson I’ve learnt, Don’t trust the locals, do own your research.
I was told by two colleagues of mine from Morroco, one from Casablanca, that the train station is merely a ten minute walk from where we were staying. So giving them the benefit of the doubt, I began my journey to the station 30 minutes before the train was to depart to realise they had led me to the wrong station! I was to go to Casa Voyageurs station the man shouted over the counter! This is not going to Marrakech!!! A desperate glance at my watch suggested I had a mere five minutes to head 3 km in a taxi amongst the dense traffic. With a hop and a jump I hopped into a moving taxi and implied with a distorted face and frantic fingers that I needed to be there now! I didn’t bargain the price, I left 40 dirham and bolted! I ran into the station and hopped onto the train without buying a ticket. The train was delayed 10 minutes thankfully to my delight! It had just left the platform as I was trying to find a place to sit! I moved three times in the carriage as I had occupied the seats that was purchased ahead of time. Two and half hours later the confused ticket seller finally approached me. I paid, glanced out of the moving carriage and could not help but wonder what was in store for me in Marrakech during Ramadan?
I had often seen the tannery in postcards and thought I’d try to find it but to my dismay it was closed that day so I gathered my bearings over some mouthwatering couscous Tfaya over looking the locals at Jemaa El-Fna setting up shop.
Content but bloated, I proceeded to the old city, through the souk and eventually, tourists, souvenir shops and anything remotely familiar faded from view. In fact it probably faded a good 30 minutes earlier. If My eyes weren’t perpetually glued to the small rectangle on my camera, I may have taken notice. Before long, I was harassed by boys shouting, “Konichiwa” Konichawa” down the end of a narrow path. I can always tell if the local is being friendly, or a merchant is just trying to get your attention, but these gang of five boys was neither. I back tracked and turned down another alley way. Where I was going… no clue. I walked down one narrow path, then another, another and another. It all looks similar and there are no obvious landmarks. I plotted my path out of the labyrinth trying to find familiar paths and following sounds of people, traffic, what ever I could. It took me two hours but I managed to appear somewhere along the main square again. The sky turned black almost instantly, almost as if it was waiting for me to get out. For once, I am actually relieved to be back on the tourist trail, with no means of light in the old city, it may have taken me a lot longer.
Here are some of the shots I took gallivanting mysterious Marrakech. One day is really too short for this picturesque gem of a city. I merely brushed its surface but I am really liking what it has to offer. Marrakech has almost everything I desire on a trip, adventure, a sense of wonder, delicious local cuisine and a lot of treasures to purchase! Next time I’ll be sure to stay longer, pack my sense of adventure, a torch-light and more local currency.