contains mild peril

Sunday, November 22, 2009

building, building, building...

Construction is the biggest activity here. There's mining and farming but everywhere there are people putting up buildings. And there are plenty of half finished (or abandoned?) buildings.

Is this similar to a 'public works' initiative by the govt. to ease some of the massive unemployment? Are these all buildings for hotels and the (importnat) tourism industry?
If they are then the sheer number in some places is incredible.

If most of these buildings were used (even for day traffic stopping for a break en route somewhere) then there'd be so many people going to these places that they'd be overrun and people would stop going!

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a new drink...

Mint tea is a lovely idea.

A pot for guests to be welcomed with. Hot sweet mint tea, with its own traditions and moment of slowing down.

Of course, there are two types of mint tea.

Either a small silver tea pot, with dried mint leaves and with a touristy embroidered cover over the handle and glass. Is this the 'real' mint tea?

Or is it the larger glass stuffed with fresh mint leaves, plucked straight from... somewhere, jammed into the glass, with boiling water poured directly over the top?
and both with a side dish of sugar lumps.

My belief is the pot wins. Here the tea is usually sweetened even without the side dish of sugar and (much more importantly) the water stays hot longer, meaning you can pour small glasses and sip and take your time.

The larger glass of leaves goes cold quickly and cold mint tea is... awful. Its a drink to ensure you don't stay long. That is the more touristy drink methinks...

Its also the one I've dubbed a "hot virgin mojito" but that doesn't make it taste any better when it does go cold...

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The souqs (as all will tell) are a sensory overload.

Slats laid across as a roof allow strips of light in, causing a constant flicker where they exist. The sounds are constant (peddlers, mopeds, music), smells and sights.

and constant constant moving; an urge to move forward toward the next unknown. How could all this not be tiring??

So its wonderful to discover that the one moment where you hear the collective sigh of the tourist, is when the whole moving cavalcade grinds to a halt as two carts block each other.

Finally respite!

All the tourists can stand still and watch and smile as one driver starts barking at the other to get his cart the hell out of the way. Yes a chance to stop and smile at a cock up that is absoultely not your fault or due to you misunderstanding something (the 125th misunderstanding you'll have made that day).

But then the jam is solved and once again, the movement forward begins, and stuff to be bought can be avoided.

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the rules of hauliage

If you can't carry it on your back,
use a bike.

If you can't carry it on your bike,
use a cart.

If you can't carry it on your cart,
it doesn' exist.

and the answer to the second question is...?

so, it quickly turns out that the first question kids will ask is "where are you from? England? Germany? French?"

and on learning England the second question is:

"what team?? Manchester? Chelsea?"

Now, its fairly obvious from the shirts many wear, but even so, every kid here supports Barcelona (even those wearing fake Real Madrid shirts).

On hearing the words "Arsenal" it kinda takes them back for a nanosecond and then they say "oohh, they're a good team. They play well; like Barcelona".

Footy's the new common language - a shared experience regardless of our background. On them saying the words "Adebayor" or "Chelsea" and me mock-crying "aarrggh" and clutching my heart in pain, there are understood laughs and connections.

nice feeling.

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Its a Lonely Planet...

As most people travelling in Morocco, I had my trusty Lonely Planet (no Rough Guides this season it seems for any Europeans).

So we all head to roughly the same places. Tried the rated bar Nawama (meaning "hot and cold" apparently) which left me.... cold.
Kinda opulent in terms of Marrakech. Was it the opulence (again) which freaked me, or the conspicuousness of being a single guy in a bar/restaurant?

Turned round and went straight back out and passed some loud 'lundener' Brits coming in.

Glad I left. As soon as I saw them and they saw me, there was a reversion (for me at least) of eye-avoidance, no-smiles, and shoulders down to avoid confrontation. And I'd been enjoying the smiling and eyes-up of holidaying too much for that bullshit.

Got dinner at the other LP rated place overlooking the Jemaa el Fna (still can't say "Fna" without thinking of the Viz "fnarr"). Much better, even though all the food was off for one reason or another. My kefta tagine was "very good" according to the waiter which was a blessing as it was the only main left(!).

Actually it was rather good, if a tad eggy (more of an omelette but still enjoyable and the setting was worth it).

Jemaa el Fna better written about just about everywhere else, but one bit the writers miss is the fact that they still have games there that I haven't seen since going to fairs in the '70's.

Hooking the bottle with a crappy rod and hoop on a bit of string is a classic (and no less fun it seems than it was back then).
New variants seem to be kick the ball and knock down 2 skittles and putt a golf ball up a long stretch of fabric into a plastic hole. The guy's mate was doing it for fun, encouraging punters to have a go...

luckily it seems snakes sleep at night so none of those shenanigans at night.

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stuff I should remember when travelling...

Remember that if travelling anywhere (anywhere) to bring shower gel.

Had forgotten that they don't always provide it in many countries. So ended up using the shampoo that was provided. Shampoo for luxuriant flowing long black hair.

It was either using this or the strawberry scented hand soap.

And I didn't want to smell like I'd just come out of the loo, or like a pre-teen girl.

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Back from Morocco

well, as I'm back from Morocco it'd make sense to go back through my brilliantly appropriate (ie accidentally chosen) blue coloured notebook for bon mots and stuff.

the paucity of following posts will signal merely my lack of notetaking rather than the fact that I had a wonderful wonderful time.

On returning to work many remarked as to how "well" and "unstressed" I now looked. I'll admit I hadn't really noticed how stressed I had been...

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