Thursday, January 28, 2010

One Moroccan Minute

Tis January in Scotland. In my humble opinion, "January in Scotland" should not exist. It was not part of the Divine Plan. January in Scotland is colder than December in Scotland. And there is no Christmas. (Rabbie) Burns night just doesn't cut it. Since university festivities do not commence until February, Thomas More and I have been suffering from a smidgen of cabin fever and cold toes--so after Hogmanay we went directly to and searched for the warmest place in the world that was not A) South of the Equator, or B) South America. Besides Egypt, which is apparently full of drunken uni kids this time of year--MOROCCO seemed like the best choice. So off to Morocco we went!My conclusion upon return: Everyone who lives in
Fife should go to Morocco--promptly. We got on the plane in Northern Britain with
temperatures hovering near zero degrees Celsius, wind whipping frozen sleety-snowy stuff into our ears and hair and underwear etc. We stepped off the same plane in a light mild breeze, 15 degrees Celsius (60 deg F), clear night sky, the scent of hibiscus and desert sand wafting in the air.

We spent half the time in Marrakech and the other half in the beachtown of Essouaira (which I probably spelled incorrectly...). While in Marrakech we stayed in an Arabian palace. No kidding. I felt like Princess Jasmine. For real:
There was a courtyard with orange trees, palm trees and exotic birds singing and fluttering in the fountain. We drank fresh orange juice for breakfast. We lay in the sun on the rooftop patio, listening to the call to prayer from the neighboring mosque.

The medieval section of Marrakech--where we were staying--is like something out of Arabian Nights. Tight narrow streets twist in an intricate pattern, a true labrynth which completely baffled us. Merchants sell live chickens, bright glass lamps, sheep skin, wool carpets, bottles, spices, smoked meat, antiques, shoes, "special" tobacco--anything your heart could desire and probably some things your heart will never ever even THINK about desiring... We got lost, overwhelmed, ripped off...(but we bought a nice little painting of horses!). And we got to see monkeys and snake charmers! Here I am with some poisonous vipers!!
Another Marrakech highlight was the Majorelle Garden. Designed by two artists in the 20s, this urban oasis was refurbished by Ives Saint Laurent, who loved this truly lovely place:

Essouaira was peaceful and bright. We could hear the waves everywhere we went. We strolled the boardwalk with the locals, walked the ramparts of the old fort which looks out to sea. We rode horses through the waves at sunset (which was NOT as relaxing as it sounds and looks...Let's just say that I THOUGHT I was a competent rider, but apparently not...I'm not so good with fiesty little Arabian stallions, who knew?)
Now we are back in the coldness and darkness of January in Scotland--which is mercifully near its end. Tomorrow we head off again! This time to some place even colder and possibly darker than Scotland in January--namely Kansas City in January!


  1. What memories your post revived in me! Some of them wonderful, others less so. Am I right in recollecting that the orange juice in Marrakech is the best in the world? That was my experience of it. Presentation was half the fun: being courted by dozens of vendors in booths identical save for their numbers, each juice jockey tipping you a wink as they poured you "a little extra"--certainly more than the stinkers in those other booths--and gestured toward their booth number so that you'd remember it and return.

    Snakes, yes; monkeys, yes; gunpowder mint tea strong and sweet enough to make you gasp and ask for more; hashish dealers EVERYWHERE; scam artists; henna tattoo artists who'd start in to work on you if you were incautious enough to hold still even half a moment.

    I'm glad you went, and I'm glad you weren't chased through the bazaar at midnight as I was when I went to Fez. Hazards of solo travel, I suppose.

    Huddle together for warmth, and safe travels to KC!

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