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Thursday, April 28, 2011

What are they trying to achieve?



Initially I was focused on tomorrow's wedding between Prince William and his Kate earlier today. I was excited about going round to my friend's where we were going to be suckers and watch the event live on tv. Then with a loud bang that all changed. I was in Dar Fakir with some visitors that had come round to take a look at a riad (they were staying in a normal hotel in the new part of town) when we heard the sound, that was definitely louder than your normal medina noise. Karim & I looked at each other, I was quick to respond "It must be a gas bottle at a neighbours". Little did I know what sounded like a small gas bottle exploding right next door would turn out to be a big gas bottle further away and as it now even seems...a terrorist attack. Even writing this write now I still don't quite understand why someone would do this and what they are trying to achieve? The annoying thing is if it was a suicide bomber as the foreign press have started saying then this person is now no longer alive and we will never be able to find out what his reasoning for it was. Tourism, political, what? For sure all eyes are now on Marrakech. Sadly for all the wrong reasons.



Anyway, shortly after explosion and the riad staff not being able to see anything from the roof terrace we let it go until the sirens started sounding. First one, then two and they just became more and more. Knowing that cars can not access further than onto Djema el Fnaa it soon became clear that the sound was not a small sound near by but a large sound further away, probably directly on the square so I decided to head over and take a look. Afterall I have guests to look after and for sure they would have questions if they had heard it too.



Already on the way there I had rung my boyfriend who had already heard that the problem was at Argana...probably a gas bottle (I remember thinking "just as I thought" just in a different place). Cafe Argana is a popular tourist stop off esp round lunch time. When I had walked round the corner onto the square by Cafe de France it was busy and for sure many people had been drawn there but all the cafes were still open, shop sellers were sitting outside their stalls, nothing seemed majorly bad until you walked onto the large section of the square and saw Cafe Argana itself. My first reaction was "Boy, if a gas bottle can make this kind of damage I better head straight home". (I had left my hot water gas bottle open at home.) At the same time something was saying this has got to be more, but at the same time not wanting it to be. Because then sadly it would just confirm what all the sceptics have been saying and asking about Morocco for a while since the problems in North Africa began...Is it safe? And seeing this, how would I be able to say "yes it is"? Even if I still whole heartedly feel for me personally it is!



Throughout the day the news dripped in that it seems confirmed that it was an attack of some sort. Possibly even Al Qaeda. The question remains what were they trying to achieve? What they will have damaged the most is the local people trying to earn a living off tourism and it will give Islam a bad name. In a country where people have been proud about not having problems with large demonstrations and riots as in neighbouring countries, the last thing they need is people to be saying...but you have terrorism instead.









Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Do all babies come from Morocco?

Today I woke up to see a stork circling over my little place. In a clear blue sky. Now that is something that put a smile on my face. What would my frinds be seeing if they looked up? Probably the roof of their car, fake daylight lighttubes blinking in the office... not a stork that's for sure. I rushed in to get my camera but unfortunately by the time I came out he was gone. Probably busy collecting another baby. ;) The amount of storks that live here on the El Badi Palace, I have decided that the majority of babies must get delivered from Morocco ;) Well at least the ones that arrive late. Moroccan time keeping can only be to blame. Could that be the reason for being drawn to this country? I was apparently 2 weeks late. Hmmm...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tabloid press & weightloss

Ok, so admit that once in a while I like to read gossip magazine, but unfortunately the Moroccan version of Hello just doesn't do it for me. After all what good is it if you don't know the people people being gossiped about!? And due to lack of English gossip magazines being readily availably I am known to click on to links that pop up my way on the web. Here's a great example Chanelle from BB feels fat Ok, so I ended up reading The Sun. The point is though that this just makes me enjoy life in Morocco even more. Coming to Morocco I lost 10kg - no liposuction, no diet, no anything. Just a simple combination of endless walking the streets of the medina, a diet of fresh ingredients and sweat. I know it doesn't sound charming but in the heat the summer reaches here believe me you will all do that. So my recommendation to weightloss I guess is ENJOY LIFE IN MARRAKECH!

And if you are over in Marrakech with any magazines - feel free to drop them on my door step ;)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Marrakech is oh so popular & yes, we do have wine


Well, not only did British Airways start flying to Marrakech again on the 27th March 2011 but BMI (British Midland) has also joined them. Considering that these are good airlines, unlike everyones pet hate airline Ryanair, which we we still cant stop to fly with, they offer very good fares. BMI has a return for under GBP 200 and doing a quick search on BA I found return flights in October for just GBP 160. That is good going. And that is not knowing if there might even be cheaper fares out there with them.

Anyhow last night I had the pleasure of enjoying the company of 8 journalist who had flown over on BMI's first flight doing a whirlwind pit stop of Marrakech & Casablanca via some vinyards for some reason. So why not treat them to a good Moroccan wine. Dining together with the BMI representative and their PR agent it was the perfect chance to introduce them to good Moroccan wine at Le Tanjia restaurant prior to their vinyard visit the following day. I think everyone was positively suprised at the high quality of wine available in a "non drinking" society. For me Volubilia Gris (tastes of a Sauvignon Blanc but has the colour of a very pale rose) and CB Initiales as a Red are the perfect examples of a nice wine from Morocco. (And service at Le Tanjia was superb despite what some of the reviews on Tripadvisor read - who has declared them to be the online Bibel of travellers anyway?)

So after a very successful dinner at Le Tanjia, I would say, some peope wanted to walk back across the square and take in the night athmosphere. Of course I was happy to oblige as I love seeing the smiles on the faces and the twinkle in peoples' eyes. When I see this, that's when I know they have "got Morocco". Mission accomplished!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Street wise

Hello dear visitors to Marrakech! Watch out. My boyfriend is hitting the roads and learning how to drive. Well, not that you visitors would be able to notice him amongst all the chaos and hectic traffic surrounding you. But never the less I thought I'd send a friendly warning.
So, how do you best deal with the traffic over hear? Well the clue is in using all your sences and having eyes in the back of your head. No seriously. As a pedestrian in the medina the rule is STICK TO THE SIDE. Believe it or not but the middle is the unofficial medina highway for motorbikes, donkey carts, bicycles etc. The things to adhear to are: [ear] as soon as you hear the words BALLACK (yes, same as the German footballer's name, so should be easy enough for all football interested men to remember) or ANDACK simply jump a side. If you stop and try to identify where it is coming from...too late...you'll have been hit, bumped, had your toe run over or at least your elbow knocked. [eyes] look where you are going and not only at the architecture. When crossing from one side to the other do the "blind angle" check and throw a quick glance over your shoulder to look out for motobikes tranporting whole families or giant objects.
So follow the rules of the medina's winding streets and it'll be an enjoyable place to stroll through.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Advanced state of Marrakchia-ness

From my last trip back to the Uk I brought back with me one of my treasured items - an old run down bicycle. Over here that translates as a precious means of transport. Fully functioning, 1 break and 3 out of the 9 gears working, I have thrown myself into the Marrakech traffic. As it is I absolutely love driving, cycling, anything on wheels (do I dare roller blade down Mohammed V holding on to a Caleche next?) and have taken to the souk like a duck to water. Well, that could be disputable by some peoples. But I think that only 3 elbow nudges in 5 days cycling back and forth between Bahia and Ben Slimane straight through the souk should count for something!?!? No?
Well some of the locals at least seem to recognise my efforts by calling out Marrakchia as I whizz past. Maybe they just realise no tourist would be insane enough to try this although I have spotted a few bicycle rentals round town but that is in Gueliz, the new town.
Anyway I feel very Marrakchia on my "sophisticated", rusty old bike. But all I can say is: If you are a tourist...Watch out and WALK ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!
Thank you ;)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ftour with a Moroccan family

Today has been an absolutely fabulous day. I once again had the chance to break the fast with a Moroccan family. What made it extra special was that is was my boyfriend's family. His younger sister and her husband to be precise. When we arrived I was greeted with the mix of curiosity by the children and a warm welcome by the grown ups. The meal was served in their salon rather than in the kitchen and the dishes just kept coming. Harira, the traditional soup to break the fast (although more and more people nowadays find this to heavy and start with a smoothie or even fruit salad), dates, figs, berber pizza (a flat bread stuffed with spices and vegetables), fish, eggs and plenty of sweet cakes. Obviously the tv was on as in any good Moroccan household, but to my surprise not at full blare as it normally is. TV during Ramadan is like Christmas programs in the UK. They put on comedy shows and funny sketches especially for this time which every one will sit and laugh at wholeheartedly. Moroccans have a wonderful way of enjoying simple slap stick comedy. I wonder if Benny Hill (obviously with more covered girls) or Mr Bean would be popular here? It is so nice to see that people actually do this every day for a whole month when you think that back home most families barely manage to get through 5 days together over Christmas. I can only say that breaking the fast with a Moroccan family is a very special experience and one to be learnt from and that should be appreciated.