Tuesday, September 7, 2010
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
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.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Back in Marrakech after a very impulsive 4 day visit to London. And oh is it good to be back. You can feel that half of ramadan is over or is it just me?! People seem a lot more upbeat. The "squirters" (spray water bottles) are out in full swing and everyone is just having a bit more fun. Spraying themselves, each other, a passer by and probably wishing they could lick their lips to get a drop of that water running down their face.
I've already been back on 2 mini adventures today. The bus driver almost driving off without me at the airport, despite having agreed he'd honk, but that obviously slipped his mind. So a little spurt (maybe more of a lame jog) to the road to rejoin all my belongings which I so trustworthy-ly had left on the bus. I had faith in all the cab drivers assisting in hailing down the bus. After all they knew I was on it as I'd turned them all down as I pushed my bicycle and pulled my suitcase past them. I favoured the bus purely for the fact that I felt my bike would be better looked after rather than, as I imagined, a petite taxi driver trying to convince himself and me that it would fit in his boot whilst slamming his boot lid on the frame for the umpteenth time.
Part two of being back in Marrakech was walking from Mohammed V to Bab Doukala gone 1 am to fix a motorbike tyre. Why? Simply because that's the way you do it here.
It's great to be back!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Now, I really do not want to stereotype but how do you get a Moroccan to remember to do something that is initially new to their system or way of thinking and the getting them to be persistent about what they are doing? Does this mean I am dealing with a person that can not learn, is not willing to learn, has other priorities or is just plain...?
I have seen from other places that it possible to find intelligent smart Moroccans, that are more than capable of adapting, adjusting, thinking outside of the box...thinking logically... so why do others struggle so much.
I know I am not the first to have this thought and please do not get me wrong, I really do love and adore Moroccan's but some days they just get to you.
Today's example is the simple task of a supposed "Hotel Manager" not understanding why on earth it might be a problem that he greeted the guests that had booked 3 rooms (2 double and 1 single) with sorry we are overbooked but its okay, I have 2 rooms.
Nooo!!! Europeans like their own space. If they booked separate rooms it was for a reason. No they are probably not mother, father, great mother, uncle and cousin all happy to sleep together.
On kindly trying to explain that this is not a professional way to handle booking the blame was immediately put on the poor cleaning lady. "She took the extra booking!" Well what about you as the manager having control over the bookings?
The theory in his head remains, the more people we take the better. No understanding what so ever for the overbooking. And these were Hostelbooker reservations. This is serious!
He just does not like that I have added the value of hostelbookers to their accommodation. It's a system he doesn't like, a system he does not want to understand (despite saying yes, yes each time I 've explained it) and he will try his damned hardest to try my patience.
But I have hope - even the most stubborn donkey will drink in the end.
Monday, August 16, 2010
So this is me entertaining myself during Ramadan and making sure I have a feast to snack on round midnight. I attempted to cook my 2nd ever beef and prune tagine. Unfortunately I'm obviously not as good a filmer as I am a cook. Yes, I must compliment myself as I cooked this from memory only and it tastes 10x better than the presentation in this clip. The ingredients I bought at the fantasic Mellah market round the corner from where I live.
The shopping didn't quite go without hickups though. First the butcher asked me if I wanted meat with... something that sounded like "sauce". So thinking of the tagine with sauce I said "yes". Turns out he ment bone, which I didn't want so fool on me. Then the spice shop I normally go to had a different man there who didn't recognise me which resulted in ridiculous price being mentioned. Me telling him how bad it is to do this because I'm a foreigner but not a tourist and handing him his spices back. I'm sure he's spat in them since. Then attempting the spice shop running through the same. The kg price for cumin supposedly being DH80 although it's never more than DH60. Shop 3 had in the meantime closed as it was nearing Ftour so I had no choice but to swallow my pride and head back to shop 1. Maybe realising he was about to lose a customer or if the goodwill of Ramadan had overcome him, I doubt very much it was just the guilty consions, he now insisted that I take the spices for free. We settled on me taking more, i.e. a weigh-able amount and settled on DH10. We both then apologised and chitchatted as you do and he blamed the incident on Ramadan. When I told him I was doing it too his surprise and joy was not to be overseen.
But what would living in Marrakech be like if it weren't for these amusing incidents.
Anyhow the tagine is a success. I spent a good 2 hrs in the kitchen, boiling the prunes with sugar and cinnamon, boiling and peeling then roasting the almonds. And partially because I have no clue about timings so I can never leave the food - something I must really learn to do.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Ramadan 2010 has started and everyone is nicely settling in. The shop assistants close early, the horns blow and people are rushing home for Ftour or heading for a bowl of Harira in the street. It's a lovely time of year. The trick is to adjust. Become a night owl. Stay awake all night and sleep all day. Then you won't even think about not having eaten or needing something to drink. Make some delicious food, have some fabulous food and enjoy the feeling in the streets at night.