2 July 2014 · Kesh Coulson

MEMORIES IN MOROCCO

Morocco is a place that’s always appealed to me. We hadn’t actually planned on going there this trip but my parents are living in Ghana and we had the opportunity to meet them halfway between Europe and Ghana.

I’ve been really keen to go to Ghana ever since my parents moved there. Unfortunately, you have to have multiple immunisations and take malaria tablets to visit and we weren’t organised enough to go through this process with Roo. Marrakech was the perfect place for all of us to spend some time together after being apart for six months.

We didn’t have the best start to our journey to Morocco. We flew from Bergen in Norway to London, where we stayed in an airport hotel for two nights before our flight to Marrakech. The flight wasn’t ideal as our ‘technical stop’ turned out to actually be a full transfer in Casablanca. When we finally did arrive in Marrakech we were confronted with the biggest passport control line we’d ever seen – and we were at the end of it. We made it out to find that one of our bags hadn’t arrived. After a short and panicked search, it was found circling on the carousel, having simply fallen off. Huge relief.

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Europe to Africa

We piled into an old Merc from the 70’s and drove through the dusty streets and past camels and donkeys… Kesh

The second we cleared customs with our baggage, we saw our names on a sign being held by Phillipe, our French host. He didn’t speak but English but wore the best print shirts I’ve seen. The Moroccan air was delicious and after all the time we’d spent in Northern Europe, it felt so good to be warm.

We piled into an old Merc from the 70’s and drove through the dusty streets and past camels and donkeys to arrive at the main square in the Medina. The square hits all your senses at once. The colours are like nothing I have seen before – peach and terracotta coloured buildings contrast the bright blue sky. The smell of spices, orange juice and rubbish hit your nose all at once. The call to prayer is blasted loud over speakers unseen, muffling the chorus of snake charmers flutes, stall owners soliciting and crowds of irreverent tourists. Roo yelled with excitement about everything that was in front of him. ‘Monkeys, Mumma! Look at all the monkeys! Snakes! Big black snakes!’…

Overwhelmed by the chaos, we wound our way down market lined lanes trailing Phillipe, as I attempted to decipher his recommendations in French.

We walked through the front door of our riad and were overcome with just how peaceful it was inside. The noise was gone and we were left with a beautiful space to appreciate. The houses in Morocco are designed in a really unique way. Traditionally, they all have an open air courtyard in the centre, with rooms connecting off that. It’s almost like an inside out design. We had three levels, all with open air balconies. It was incredible and really quite affordable. Although anything is affordable after you’ve been travelling in Norway.

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Watch Your Step

Marrakech is a pretty crazy place. It’s a massive tourist hub so you need to be on your game and aware that not everyone is just being friendly. People will constantly try to offer you directions, which will likely lead you to a stall, shop, tannery or other business they will receive commission from for bringing you there. We found that after one or two (or sometimes three) ‘no thanks’, we would be left alone. One thing I did struggle with was the treatment of animals. I didn’t see a single animal that was receiving the care it should be. I understand that it’s a different culture but I didn’t feel comfortable encouraging tourism through the exploitation of animals. We did take a carriage ride around the city, which was really beautiful but only after I had carefully selected the horses that appeared to be in the best condition. It’s a really tricky thing but this worked for us.

The square is an experience to behold but we spent very little time there and purchased nothing from the stalls. I’d recommend heading up into the souks where you’ll find items of a greater quality. We found an incredible rug shop that blew my mind. We purchased two beautiful rugs at a great price and had them sent home via Fedex, which the store arranged.

I’d really recommend the Marrakech Photography Museum, which is in a beautiful white building in a great part of the city. The imagery of Marrakech and it’s people was so special to see. It really inspired Timmy and me too. Entry is really cheap and the restaurant on the rooftop has the best views and food.

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Spending time with my parents was really special for us. Roo loved seeing his ‘Gammy’ and ‘Poppy’. Every morning he would go straight up to their room and snuggle with them on their bed – whether they were awake or not. It felt so good to be reunited with family in the middle of this long trip. It was a special experience to be with family on the other side of the world.


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