Monday, 11 July 2016

My Morrocan Adventure | Photo Diary

D A Y 1
Up bright and early to be picked up for our journey through the Atlas Mountains via lots of amazing places. The Atlas Mountains are literally incredible, I can't even describe how beautiful they are. I get SO travel sick, like even driving to Tesco makes me ill but I was so distracted by the views I didn't feel sick once. We pulled over at loads of stops to see panoramic views of mountains, gorges, kasbahs and everything was breathtaking. I just couldn't get over the colours! In Wales, or where I live at least, pretty much all the views are of green hills and generally grey skies. Which I adore, don't get me wrong. But seeing red, pink, yellow and black stone, random bursts of lush tropical looking greenery and mountain peaks for miles is something special.





The main event of the day was visiting Ait Benhaddou which was ah-mazing. I didn't expect to explore and climb and I was not prepared! It's been used as a set for loads of tv series and films and it's easy to see why. Just wow.




We finished the day driving around the huge Dades Gorge where there was a cute hotel built into the side of the valley. "OMG IMAGINE IF THAT WAS YOUR HOTEL THO OMG" only to pull up in the car park. I was a bit delirous after 10 hours in a hot car and it was quite a site to behold! Before we finally had dinner (an effing glorious morrocan feast), our new friend, Ahmed, decided to take us up a (mini) mountain to watch the sun set. What a way to end the night.



D A Y 2
WELL. Wasn't day one a big day? Day 2 was another car-filled day with more mountain views and sheer drops at the side of the road! Less stops today, though - we walked through Todra Gorge which ws like nothing I've ever seen before. Pictures don't even begin to do it justice. In the evening we arrived at a hotel on the outskirts of the desert where we were introduced to our camels (horrible menances) and from there we trekked into the real desert. Honest to god it was the most uncomfortable experience of my life, almost painful! But of course I'm glad I did it, the views of the sand dunes while trekking through the desert was more than worth it. When we arrived at the camp the little group of us made ourselves comfortable in the tent where we were served Berber tagines and fresh fruit with mint tea (Morrocans love a mint tea). Some of the amazing Berber men who walked out with us played us some absolutely incredible music - it was spine tinglingly good!! I was invited to play the drums myself and I was pretty damn good...




D A Y 3
The. Earliest. Morning. Ever. We went to sleep around 1am and were up at 4am to climb a MAHOOSIVE dune to see sunrise. I want to emphasise how damn big this sand dune was - imagine climbing Harrods made of sand. At 4am. It fucking killed me. I thought I was going to throw up - and I'm fairly fit if I say so myself! But it was pretty sensational once I managed to get up there (even though I missed the best bit *cry cry cry*). We trekked back and had breakfast in the hotel before a long-ass drive back. 13 hours to be exact. I cried. I threw up. I slept. It was a bloody nightmare, to be frank. So excuse the lack of pictures from today but I was in the midst of a physical and mental melt down. I'm still traumatised today. We saw some more beautiful sites, it's just a shame I couldn't appreciate them a little bit more! Had to get a picture with our main man, Ahmed, though.




D A Y S 4 - 7
Now we are in Marrakech for the remainder of our Morrocan adventure. And what a place it is. The craziest, busiest, most vibrant and confusing place I've ever been. A red brick jungle where behind the same stretch of wall you can visit a 5* restaurant, a spice stall, a budget hotel and a guy flogging fake G-Star bags and Burberry purses. We ate some of the most delicious meals in all sorts of settings - we ate tagines at a street food stall, fancy food in a luxury restaurant and a traditional Ramadan feast to break fast with a new friend. We got just a little bit ripped off in the souks but also secured some nice bargains whilst bartering like a pro! I was in sensory overload for four days - brightly coloured tiles around doors, braying donkeys and shouting stall-men, the smell of sweet chebakia mingling with the smell of meat (accompanied by WHOLE cows heads hanging from the walls). I needed a holiday just to recover!




The men and women in the main square, Jma el-Fna, were perpetually annoying. I'm the kind of person who gives money to anyone I see begging and I will always speak to anyone who stops me in the street, but you just can't do it in Marrakech. Just keep your eyes forward. An example of a time that I didn't do that - a woman tried to sell me henna that I didn't want so I politely declined. She followed this by grabbing me and doing a quick, messy henna doodle on my arm and tried to charge me 400MAD (about £30/40). HA. NO.









But I also have examples of some of the kindest acts of humanity I've ever seen. From people labelled as "terrorists" in todays media, no less. When Ahmed missed breaking fast because he was driving us around trying to find our riad because we got moved and he didn't want us to walk around the medina on our own, I was mortified. But a kind man saw him driving and knocked the window to share his food with Ahmed. Just wow.

Not only that - we were invited by a stranger, now a friend, to break fast with him as we weren't eating at sun down. We actually had a dinner reservation in 10 minutes so had to decline but when we walked back past him later he invited us in for saffron tea (AKA Berber whisky) and asked us to return the following day. Which we did. He shared all of us food, asking us to eat first, giving us more than he gave himself even though we'd had breakfast, lunch, snacks and water all day. He didn't ask for a penny in return and he taught us so much about life as a young Muslim and about life as a Berber man from the desert living in crazy Marrakech. It was such a special experience that I will always treasure.

There was so much more of Morroco that we didn't get to see, so we will 1000000% be returning. Soon!! Have you ever visted Marrakech or anywhere else in Morroco? Would you like to?!
Teri-May xx


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