Saturday, 11 August 2012

112. Have a good delve.

Double posting today! Decided to split it into two, or else a) this post starts all the way back in… June… and b) it’d may be disgustingly long. Other half is to be seen in the post before this one, for the sake of keeping things in chronological order. Yup yup.

Sunday 5th August.
Here I am, another YHA… this time it’s Coverack. I’m sat up in the staff flat (although due to lack of rooms, I’m sleeping in my van. That’s fine, I do rather like the van… though I forgot about the downside of parking under trees, and since it’s Britain / Cornwall I suspect that it’s going to rain and so I’ll have THUNDEROUS DROPS OF DOOOOOM coming down onto my roof. And maybe a lot of bird poo.
As per usual, the hostel needed my help. As do they all. It’s pretty nice here actually… no, very nice! If I was to work at any other YHA in Cornwall it’d FO SHIZZLE be this one… catering, but not too stressful (no one ranting and raving, and throwing objects across the kitchen, whipping folks with tea towels, swearing every other word, etc… stress does appear to happen but from what I’m used to in “previous life” it’s nothing!). To be honest, working in a kitchen is nice in general because it’s something to do (I’m not complaining about being paid to sit on my bum and decorate more signs for the hostel at Perran, but sometimes its good to be DOING things… especially food related things… and the food side of things here is nice, as it’s not all 100% stuff out of plastic packs, pre-made and frozen!) (Golant have a LOT to learn). It ALSO helps that everyone here is absolutely lovely; I’d consider applying for a job here for next season, but firstly I’ve already said I’ll help with Perran (after all, I would one day like to have the place to myself…) and secondly I’m not sure I’d like to be working like this all the time… just some of the time. Every so often. Yeah.
The down point, is the fact that I have to be in the kitchen at 6:45am tomorrow. WHOAH NOW. That’s the time I woke up this morning, stuck my head out the door and went “ahh… time for a bit more sleep…”. What maniacs decided they fancied eating breakfast at 7:30… *fist shake*
Ahh… and I have the nice soggy trouser thing going on again from constantly wiping wet hands down my apron in the kitchen.

Recent news…
I went to Morocco!
A brief run down of that? Yeeeah… why not.

(Brief? BRIEF? HA! As if…)

Phil gave me a lift to the station (after I did a mornings work!) and Arnold & I managed to survive the 6 hour train journey to Reigate, fretting a little since I’ve never EVER taken a boy chap bloke back to the parental units.
I needn’t have worried, it was fine! Arnold & the motherly one nattered about gardens and whatnot, and there was coffee cake, and roast chicken, and it was all good (the fatherly one wasn’t there, away doing bizznizz). The next day we gather our belongings again and go off to Gatwick where upon we leapt onto the plane (forgot that National Geographic was quite so expensive…).
The flight was with British Airways, but this didn’t mean a thing to me. As per usual I managed to end up sitting next to an annoying bloke who had the window seat… he then decided to shut the shutters and watch a film on his iPad for the majority of the journey until perhaps he got the gist of me peering over the seats in front to see out of the window and such (he had earphones in, and I’m too awkward to ask him anyway) (silent emotional blackmail, YEAH!).
At some point we got given a little packed lunch (cheesy wrap, feta cheese etc COUS COUS!, cake, mixed fruit & seeds…) this was a new thing for me as I’m used to travelling on bog standard Easyjet. And then, THEN! The drinks trolley came along; I expected an option of “tea or coffee, or water?” but no! I ended up with a double gin & tonic! I’m still WELL impressed by this, and perhaps the altitude didn’t help as I got a little drunker than expected on that one little drink…

Arriving in Morocco (Marrakech) and stepping off the plane I thought the hot blowing hair-drier style heat was just due to the plane’s fan propeller things… no. It was just Morocco being hot. Phew! Whoah! Not used to that at all.
Taxi to the hostel was interesting, everyone over there likes to deck out their (sicky beige colour in Marrakech, greeny blue in Essauoira) (no, I still can’t spell the name of that last place)… coming back to the point… everyone seems to like decorating their taxi’s in fluffy furry fabric across the dashboard, sometimes on the seats too, and Moroccan rugs on the floors. As if the vehicles aren’t hot enough already without extra insulation…
Sometimes I think driving in England (especially the closer to London you get) is awful, but it seems amazingly civilised compared to Morocco. Staying in lane seems to be optional (why stay in one lane or the other, when you can just drive down the middle?) honking seems essential, and gazillions of people on scooters weave in and out all over the place. Add the occasional donkey into the mix. As with Britain you get fined for not wearing a seatbelt… the exception to this is if you’re in a taxi. From what we could tell, it was bad manners and an insult to the taxi drivers driving if you wore a seatbelt in a taxi! THANKFULLY no crashes were had, just lots of honking.

The first place we stayed was in the Medina itself, a backpackers called “Nari Nari”. It was down a fairly pleasant quiet (except for the normal scooters beeping their way through) side alley. Greeted with super cold air conditioning and some tea we settled down a little. The hostel is certainly a place for travellers, the walls being painted in crazy colours and hats hanging from strings in the middle of the courtyard (the majority of Moroccan houses have courtyards, this is partly to keep the place cool but also because there is a tax on windows facing outwards onto the street (like in the Middle Ages) and so this is the way of letting in light.
Our room was nice; double bed, air conditioning (though we didn’t figure it out this night, not really any of the nights actually…) and an en-suite through a fancy archway with a curtain to divide it.
Never once in Morocco did I have a warm shower, always cold, and this was always out of preference rather than lack of hot water.
This first day I saw my first cockroach, funny creatures! They appear whether a place is clean or dirty (Nari Nari seemed very clean).
In the evening we ventured out into the “real world”. This time there was no one to show us the way, and so it was a tad strange. First mission, find a cashpoint.
Easier said than done! We found various cash points but all of them out of order, so we quickly let someone help us out. Nice of him, yes… once he understood what we actually wanted. Having found a working one, he demanded money!
A quick tip to anyone ever wishing to travel to Morocco – people are friendly, but don’t ever expect them to do ANYTHING for you for free (with a few exceptions, but they are rare). We didn’t have any change, so he got off with 50d (roughly £5) just for showing us to a cash point. On our cash point mission a beggar came asking for money, for which we refused him. He looked at me in a very evil way and in rather good English snarled “fuck yoooou!” and wandered off. Nice.
There is plenty good to look at in Marrakech, but it’s not easy to look without being pestered by someone or the other, wanting to show you something in order to get money out of you. We managed to make friends with a French(?) woman (at a cash point!) and so followed her to a café / restaurant with a roof terrace where we could eat, drink, and watch the below happenings in peace.
I had my first REAL tagine (lamb and peas…) and plenty of bottled water and evil Coca-Cola product. I’d brought water purification tablets with me to avoid having to always spend out on / hunt down (not that it’s hard) bottled water, but never quite trusted them enough to use them (you hear too many watery horror stories!). Marrakech really comes alive at night, I suppose it’s partly because the heat in the daytime is so hot (52 degrees Celsius at times during out stay! EEP!).
Something I forgot to mention is the smell… it’s pretty normal to walk along and go “mm! Spices! That’s a good smell” and then the next second almost be knocked out by the stink of horse piss ammonia. But I suppose it’s the same here… but we’re used to the different smells. “Mmm, honeysuckle, EURGH! CHAVS!”. HURR HURR. Shut up, Bex…

The next day we woke, or at least woke up a bit more as neither of us were able to sleep much, and had our breakfast (a smell selection of breadish items, and coffee… I don’t like coffee, as the majority of you know, but in an effort to hydrate myself with liquid I drank it anyway). We were both very tired and very VERY grumpy. And Arnold is the grumpiest person alive EVER when he has had not enough sleep (I’m aware you may be reading this, Mohammed!).
Finding our taxi at the end of the alley we were driven off into the Atlas Mountains. Sitting and being driven about was a relief, I was already exhausted by the hustle and bustle of the city. The area around Marrakech is mostly just desert with an urban sprawl – buildings aren’t allowed to be built higher than the mosques, which I quite like as high rise buildings are awful… but sprawl isn’t so good either… as discussed with Arnold at some point during the holiday, folks should have to pass a difficult test before being allowed to parent a child! (Not just Moroccan’s, this is EVERYONE in the world!).
Going back to the journey…
The road wound about lots more once we got into the mountains, and I felt amazingly trustworthy of our drivers driving. We exchanged a few words, but most folks out there barely speak English and although Arnold can speak a little French, it’s not super (but believe me, I was SO thankful for the little he can speak!).

Getting to our destination, a rather lovely house called “Dar Tassa” at the top of a valley containing a remote village, a Berber chap called Mohamed greeted us. “Ah, hello Mr William!”. Most greetings and general conversation was directed at Will / Arnold, this was partly because he knows more French, partly because he did all the accommodation bookings, but also partly because over there women aren’t noticed much except for when blokes fancy ogling at them/whistling at them/etc. Just think of all those Burkas. Women cook, clean, have babies, look after babies, and the children, and the adults, and the old adults, and do the shopping… everything… but men get to sit around selling their wares and drinking mint tea.
BACK TO DAR TASSA… greeted this time with a small glass of warm milk and some dates, our room was quite simple – a double bed (VERY SOLID mattress), and air conditioning. Much better air conditioning than the previous room (but it was still too hot to sleep at night) (one night I even made myself a little bed on the floor, to see if it was any cooler and such… I didn’t sleep MUCH better!).
Our first day was spent lazing about in the house and outside under a big brown tent thing, looking at the rather good view down the valley and around at the mountains. There were builders working next door, but it was nothing like British builders – no bum cracks or rude whistles, just hard work… all done by hand! Not an irritatingly loud machine to be seen or heard (and they were quite interesting to watch, too).
I read, and painted, and drew.
Ants were running all over the place, mostly the normal little ones but also some BIG ones who one minute would be walking about like normal (big) ants, and then the next they would ALL put their bums in the air and sprint about like the house was on fire! I have no idea what set this off, but it wouldn’t just be one of them doing it – it’d be the whole lot.
The next day we went out to explore the immediate area with an English (well…) speaking guide called Mohamed. Not the Mohamed at the house, mind you, this is another one… the majority of men in Morocco are apparently called that, the next most popular name being Abdul.
Mohamed the second was friendly, but as with everyone nothing came free and he had to tip him (pretty heavily… 100d that first day!). He walked us down into the orchard covered valley area, fresh peaches everywhere… mmm! And then up into the mountains a little.
The main thing I noticed about Mohamed were his teeth… most folks in Morocco do not brush their teeth, this combined with a large dose of sugar being added to everything (especially mint tea, which is consumed in large quantities) led to him having green rotten teefs. Yuck yuck. On the mention of teeth, I also found it amusing that any building marked as a dentist had an illustration of false teeth outside it – the majority of dentists are just tooth pullers, I think.
Our second full day in the mountains we got driven by a chap called… Mohamed (the third) with Mohamed (the second) to near a place called Tinmal (or something like that). We walked the remaining distance, the walk being roughly 2 hours long.
I can walk for two hours.
I can walk for more than that!
But not in Morocco.
I thought we had enough water with us, and as we were in a more rural area I had my shoulders covered with a nice cool whitish top (local women never show shoulders, it’s basically PORN) and my sandals were comfy and I had a straw hat, so I reckoned it’d all be fine.
Half way through I couldn’t breathe, and we were running low on water, and I’d snapped the string fastening on my bag, and I was too hot, and flies kept getting in my face, and I thought I might actually collapse and die, and I had to keep giving myself rather emotional (in my head) pep talks to keep myself going, and there was no shade as it was a mountain desert area, and I’m so glad that Arnold was walking behind me as if I HAD died then I may have been eaten alive by roaming starving donkeys.
Basically, as much as it was nice to get out and do something, I didn’t enjoy it. My language was only kept clean by the fact that we were on a sort of little pilgrimage track to a 12th century mosque (one of the only 2 in Morocco which non-Muslim people are allowed in to). Otherwise I would have sounded worse than Ozzy Osbourne.

Upon reaching the mosque there was thunder and it started to rain – I don’t ever in my life remember being THAT happy for rain, so I sat on the floor as a breeze got up and grinned like a maniac.

The mosque was very pretty.

After the mosque we were led to a little stream/river where I promptly waded in wearing my sandals and grinned even more. Mmm… cold wet feet (there were a few frogs and fishes too, and a bit of rubbish – not quite National Trust standard!!).
Picnicing under a bridge like trolls we ate plenty of peaches, boiled eggs, and other pre-pared by the house foods.
Packing up the picnic, we were driven back away and past a local market. Here we bought herbs and spices, and a chap tried to sell me some slippers and a djbella (spelling has been forgotten – it’s a bit like a wizard robe with a pointy hood). At local markets it doesn’t seem to matter if the colour is right, if it fits then surely you should buy it! I managed to escape. Mohamed the second then led us down an alley and produced some jewellery with “precious jewels” which he and his company got out of the mines, and silver which was hand hammered and stamped! Oh, if only I didn’t know what jewels and silver looked like… the beads were painted clay and plastic, and the silver was perhaps silver in colour, but the sort of metal which is so cheap it’s almost plastic.
However, he was so pushy and HAD been a great use to us that I was made to buy some, this pissed me off a bit… but as I said, nothing is for free. I’m still unsure what to do with the jewellery… I certainly wouldn’t wear it! Safe to say, Mohamed the third managed to drive us away to the safety of the house before Mohamed the second managed to get his daily expensive tip off of us.
In general, Dar Tassa was lovely as no one really bothered you like they do in Marrakech. The food was tasty tasty, Mohamed the first was a really nice host, and we met some fellow travellers (I was glad to see that they were arguing with each other, too!).
The thing I enjoyed most about the mountains may have been the multiple calls to prayer; these happen from mosques all over – someone reading religious script (or something) in Arabic down megaphones, the resulting sound usually sounding a bit like racing cars or electric blenders, but in the mountains it was really nice! Wouldn’t have minded living next door to it…
Air temperature in mountains was slightly cooler than in Marrakech.

The next day, we were driven back to Marrakech.
Four nights in a row without any decent sleep… tensions running high. Finding the right chap to get a ticket for the bus to Essaouaira the next day was… interesting.
Again we went out into the main square for supper, though not before a stop to have some expensive tourist-tastic ice-cream at the side (an excuse to sit down). Three flavours for me, normal boring (but good) chocolate, and raspberry, but then MINT… you think of mint ice-cream and you think of the fluorescent turquoise stuff with dark brown chocolate-esque bits in it (as a child I called this “snot and bogey” ice-cream). But no. THIS mint ice-cream was most definitely real mint, and MOST definitely yummy.
More tagine for supper (what else? Mm!). Lamb, onion, and dates.

Getting the bus/coach the next day was relatively simple, in the end, but of course when you’re ridiculously tired, hot, and grumpy absolutely nothing is simple.
The coach (Supratours, best bus company in Morocco!) was pretty tourist filled, not many locals, and wonderfully air conditioned. English girls next to me wouldn’t stop talking shit, but that’s mostly expected.
I read my definitely very appropriate book Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome (linked to Swallows and Amazons, this one is in the Lake District when the whole lake freezes. Nice cold thoughts…).
Upon arrival in Essa I readied myself for getting out of the bus and being hit with a wall of hot hot heat, but I was pleasantly surprised! Since it’s on the coast there was a fresh breeze and many locals were wearing thick jackets and fleeces.
The normal stress on finding out feet occurred, and after a while of using an internet café, searching the streets, snapping at each other, attempting and failing to get hold of a telephone number contact we had (using both mobiles and public phones) we collapsed into chairs at a little café in a pleasant square, called 

La Cantina. Here, much to our relief, were people who spoke English. In fact, they were (and still are, I hope!) ENGLISH! I know you’re meant to go to other countries to experience the country for what it is, but right then I was exceedingly happy to have something familiar. Having lunch (it was all Mexican!!) we then asked the lady if she knew anything about the house (it was very near by). Just by chance she did, and she knew where the father of the chap who had the key worked – just round the corner again! We were lead to this new café (Moroccan, run by  Moroccan’s) and were greeted with mint tea and friendly people (ONE English chap included…) and were told that the chap with the key was at work, and that he’d be back in an hour and that we could wait there.
So we waited. People were very friendly, we got some free (actually free!) pancakey things at some point, and they continued to natter to us in a broken French/English sort of way, and Arnold tried out a traditional Moroccan instrument which has strings made of cat guts (enough cats around, I suppose!) and I nodded off for a little while.
The hour passed, and then they recalled “Ah! He is not back yet because it is now changed to Ramadan time, so he will be here in an hour!” ok. So we waited for an hour longer… it wasn’t so bad… we separately wandered off to snoop about the streets for a while, contemplated having a calamari couscous… waited… waited… an hour passed, and he still didn’t turn up. These folks had been calling his mobile but no luck, no answer.
In the end we had waited for 5 hours and just got too fed up, so went back to the English café and asked whether she knew any good places to stay that night – perhaps we’d try the house again the next day (3 nights in Essa in total). Much to our delight she knew a few, and got through to a house called “Kirstys Place”; not long after, “Kirsty” came along.
Kirsty is actually called Sammy – she took the house (and it’s business) over from a girl called Kirsty, and is Dutch. She lives with her Moroccan boyfriend (this is illegal, lets just hope those Moroccan officials don’t read this, eh? If they were found then he’d go to prison for 5 years – 5 years seems to be the time for anything in prison – and she’d get sent back home). The house was in the suburbs outside the Medina, and had everything we needed. It was a bit like a B&B, but you tend to find your own breakfast in the fridge and it was otherwise just like a house share. The place was decked out in a hippy/Moroccan way (veeeery nice) and a new edition was a small kitten called Blue. Blue had started life as a street cat, but on her way home from the shops Sammy had found her lying next to the road as if hit by a car, almost dead. Picking her up, she took her home and fed her and cared for her and all that stuff and now she is DEFINITELY alive! SOOOOO CYOOT! Playful in the mornings, and then floppy and sleepy in the evenings. Drawings were done, and flea bites were had (I hope it was just the one HUGE flea that Sammy managed to catch). Ohh for a kitten.

Our time in Essa was by far the best bit of the trip; for starters it was lots cooler and so we were actually able to sleep at night (and the bed was super comfy), then getting into town wasn’t too far a walk (though we got lost on the way home one day, and that lead to much grumping and me eventually hailing a taxi) (taxi’s are piss cheap). We explored the Medina plenty, decided to stay at Sammy’s place for all 3 nights, wandered through the fresh fish markets by the harbour, sat out on the wall with cannons on it, bumped into the argumentative family we met at Dar Tassa in the mountains, and bought the stuff we’d had our eyes on (cheaper in Essa than Marrakech). Funky rug boots, a big fat wrist bangle/bracelet and Fatima’s hand, bum bag belt thing with lots of pockets, plus some postcards of men (with things like chickens on their heads, covered in bells, etc etc…).

-QUICK PAUSE IN MOROCCO… sorry if the writing from here on in is a tad dodgy, I’ve just been given a glass of wine and it’s affecting my limbs already, I haven’t had a drink since our second night in Essa) (that was… 3 weeks ago?! Something like that). PAUSE OVER-

I was pretty sad to leave Essa, knowing we’d be going back to that stressful hot place which is Marrakech. But we got back, bartered for a taxi, and found our hostel again. Our last night in Morocco.
Supper was had at the same place as we went on our first night, my tagine of choice this night was lamb, almonds, and prunes. Nom.
Getting back to the hostel we were invited to join in with their “breakfast” (Ramadan, the sun had set!). Sticky sweet things which I’d been eyeing up all holiday were found to be VERY sticky, and VERY sweet, and a bit too much really. Yoghurt was good.
The next day bags were packed, heels were dragged as we had some time to kill before 2pm where upon we’d meet our taxi to take us to the airport (the chap who had given us a lift from the station the day before said he’d do it for a good price). Got 1kilo of last minute dates, and finally time to go.
Going along at just before 2pm we were forced into getting into a different taxi to the one we’d ordered, but we didn’t really complain too much as it was 30d cheaper. Just as we pulled out we saw our original taxi (1616) come through to wait for us and we felt a tad bad… but it was too late. And anyway, this one was cheaper. As Arnold later said “I felt bad for a little while, but then I decided that it was ok because we finally got one up on the Moroccan’s”. I decided to blame a random spot of extreme (bum!!!) pain upon arriving in duty free on the fact that Mr 1616 had cursed us for not going with him.
On the mention of airports, I got frisked going through Gatwick AND Marrakech airports. In Gatwick it was quite rough, the woman even going so far as to put her hands a bit down my trousers! In Marrakech however, I could have been frisked all day! The woman was very nice and gentle, it was more like a pleasant stroking… those of you who know me properly will know that I’m a sucker for being stroked (like a cat, I enjoy that sort of attention and dislike being put in a bath/shower).
The flight was really good, being put on an alternative company to BA as their plane had died, we had loads of room, a WINDOW, and the seemingly normal food & drink service. Sky was clear the entire was so a good view was had, it certainly beat Google Earth, and then we got home.
Home, home, home. It was good to be home.

Morocco is still with me however, as the instant I got home I needed to poop… the nasty consistency was put down to travelling, however I’ve only just got over the last of it as I was then hit with an awful bout of the shits and stomach cramps so bad I wanted to puke. Ahhh, Moroccan germs! Almost 2 weeks of it… yurgh!
I’m sure you wanted to know that.

So that was that.
And now I’m in Coverack, and then Perranporth.
Life is good, though I feel fat and lazy after my days on end of lying in my van groaning and eating plain stodgy food.

Saturday 11th August.
I've swam in the sea every day for the past 4 days, 2 of them I even went in without my wetsuit. YEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! This is the life.

Sketches from Morocco, first half and second half.

A couple of pieces I've recently made...

A selection of images! I hope the names of the artists show up, I've put them as "add caption" but the last lot didn't show. Have since fiddled with colours of blog, so lets hope they show now?!

Ben Aslett

Brandon Reese

Dinara Mirtalipova

Green Ink

Izziyana Suhaimi

Jenny Bowers

Luke Best

Robert Crumb! (Who else...)

Tom Kondrat

No comments:

Post a Comment