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Keep the heid
Posts: 12,591
Reply with quote  #1 

What can I say?  Well, unfortunately, nothing too good.  Neither myself nor hubby enjoyed any of it apart from an overnight stay in the Sahara.  The people of that city are not nice at all and extremely aggressive and very racist.  The moment we arrived in the city, before we even got to our Riad, we felt very uncomfortable and unsafe.  We were badgered from the minute we got out of the taxi when we had to walk the rest of the way as Riads are generally off the main roads and only accessible by foot.  The people approach you for money and to brow beat you into handing it over for no reason at all.  They give you directions (because they know you're a tourist) then demand payment even though they were never approached by us.  They accost you in markets and streets to buy stuff and if you don't you're verbally abused with threats of physical abuse.  They also phone forward to their friends dotted along the streets and markets and we were often approached by others who had obviously been informed of our refusals to pay for just looking at their stalls.  Really, if you looked in the direction of something they demanded payment!  The place was a constant nightmare and I hated every second I was there and didn't venture out often.  The only good part was the trip we booked into the Sahara.  That was a totally different and wonderful experience.  It was a long journey that took us along the Tizi-n-Tichka pass through the High Atlas Mountains to the Berber camp in Zagora.  12 hours total getting there.  But we stopped at various places to be given tours, in particular the Kasbah Aït Ben Haddou which was very interesting and an UNESCO World Heritage site.  We also hit an altitue of 2260m, which is very high.  But our night in the desert was amazing.  We were in a group of 17 people on a mini bus and by the time we got there we were all very familiar with each other and everyone got on very well.  When we arrived at the desert there were camels waiting to take us all to the 'camp'.  That was such an experience.  We were on camel back for half an hour getting there while the sun set.  WOW.  I've not seen anything like it.  It was daylight when we got off the bus but complete darkness when we got to the camp.  The camp consisted of tents and there were 4 allocated to a tent.  We had 5 in ours as we and another couple with their 4 year old decided we would share.  It was just 5 mattresses with blankets.  There was a toilet/wash/shower tent to the rear (with running water and flushing toilets!!!!!) and a big tent where dinner and breakfast was served.  But once we were settled in our tents (dumped our holdalls is basically settled lol) we were all back outside sitting on a huge carpet being served honey and lemon tea.  It was a welcoming ceremony that I believe is quite traditional.  The tea was lovely and I'm a basic tea drinker who doesn't normally go for 'special' varieties.  We all sat around chatting with each other and the Berber for a while.  That over we were taken into the big tent for dinner.  That was much needed after a long journey and better than we expected it to be.  It also included traditional Moroccan tagines with lots of breads which is totally different from what I had ever had back home.  After that was over we went back outside and lay down on the carpets looking at the stars.  I had no idea that the sky could look like that at night.  You could see the galaxies and shooting stars as clear as day.  It was nothing I'd ever seen before.  There was also a camp fire going and eventually we all ended up sitting around it and our Berber hosts sang and played for us.  No Beatles lol.  It was such a different experience for us all.  It was so relaxed and everyone just continued to chill out and forget the rest of the world existed.  After a surprisingly good nights sleep, I didn't expect to get any sleep at all, we were woken to experience the sun rise.  Man oh man this experience just doesn't stop wowing us.  We sat on sand dunes and watched the sun come up, in a way I'd never seen before.  Nothing about being in that desert is remotely like anything anyone could experience anywhere else.  Then it was back to the camp and the dining tent for breakfast.  Bread, jams, honey and coffee.  I've never eaten so much bread and jams in my life but I tucked in.  By mid morning it was back on camel back to be returned to the bus taking us back to civilisation.  Such a dread to have to and how we all wished we'd booked for a whole week.  I'd gladly live there and be done with civvy street.  It really is such a wonderful and stress free existence and I fully understand why they don't want to come out of the desert.  The upside is, we can return to the camp and stay for longer.  If it wasn't for that camp and the people in it, I'd have no desire to ever return to Morocco.  The Berber people are so different from those we encountered in Marrakech.  If not for them I would consider what I saw of Marrakech and Morocco to the be pits of the earth.  And that's not something I say lightly.

Marrakech is hopefully forgettable with no redeeming factors.  But the Berber people will forever be in my memories.  The Moroccan heat is something that I would never have expected, and reach temperatures that I didn't think existed.  Beyond hot.  There is nothing remotely glamorous about riding a camel and nothing you can do to make it so.  Getting on and off one is very unladylike and you do not want a camera pointing at you during any part of the process.  It's extremely uncomfortable if you get the wrong saddle also.  Camels are very friendly and like to keep kissing each other.  They make some very strange noises also.   There is a lot of sand in the desert that gets everywhere.  Which means camel back riding is even more chaffing than you expect.  Camels are wonderful creatures nonetheless and I trust them more than some people.  The desert during the night is very cold which explained the addition of heavy blankets in the tents.  Couldn't understand how anyone could need such an item when the heat even at 11pm is 100f.  Because overnight it drops to around 40f!!!!  The sky in the Sahara at night is astounding and breath-taking.  If you can, go to the Sahara Desert and avoid everywhere else.

I have the fewest pics of this  trip than anywhere.  In fact I've noticed that after our Sahara trip we took hardly any pictures, and not that many were taken before.  Hundreds of the desert trip though, so that says it all I suppose. 

Our Riad and it's roof terrace and view.  We spent a lot of time in our room and not much outside.
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The Mosque that made it's first call for prayers every morning at 6am

At the Tannery with sprigs of mint in hand. 

Needed hats to protect our heads from the heat.  The only time a trader smiled at us lol  

Marrakech on a Sunday night at 10pm.  Packed and noisy

On our way to the Sahara.  Stunning views
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Stop to tour Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou.  Many movies filmed here including Jewel of the Nile and Game of Thrones.
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We got high

Our journey to and amazing time at the camp
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Back in Marrakech and a beautiful park to stroll through on our last day.
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I love everybody.  Some I love to be around, some I love to avoid and others I'd love to punch in the face. <~~~~ for Jeff vid clips

Posts: 1,857
Reply with quote  #2 
Very interesting pics and write-up. This is such an exotic place, wow. You guys seemed to be having fun, smiling. Loved the camels, too.

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Moondance Tintin Chili Beans Martini
Posts: 1,188
Reply with quote  #3 
I think many people who visit Marrakesh for the first time are shocked. It is totally different from Europe. A colleague of mine just finished a trip to Rome and will now spend some time in Marrakesh. I wonder what her impressions will be like.

I visited Marrakesh twice, each time I was in a group. That changes a lot. As far as I am concerned the desert, the landscape is magnificent.

Thanks for sharing your pictures, Helen!

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.” Milan Kundera.

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Posts: 3,193
Reply with quote  #4 
It seems to me that you who live on the other side of the Atlantic travel with much less trouble and fanfare than do we on this side. 

For me I do believe I would have to fly to at least two or three other stops from my rather inconvenient location just to get to a place where I could leave the country.  I think it's about 2300 miles from here to Boston or NYC.  Then there that ocean in the way.  So I would have to fly over that.  
I know it can be done.  Many, many people from my city travel - usually to Ireland.  

My sister has been all over the world several times, but she lives in a city that is an airline hub.

A few years back she, her husband and my mother went to Morocco.  They ate seafood and got sick.  Real sick.  That was about the extent of their time there.  

Unfortunately, my sister will not be travelling anymore.  She has been suffering from als for a while now.  That's the reason I've been going to Salt Lake City.  She lives there.  Her als is fast moving.  She has lost the use of her limbs, and her voice is almost gone.  She has trouble swallowing. And breathing.  She has PBA along with all the other crap that this horrible disease can throw at you.  

Well this post is certainly a downer.  

I doubt any of us have spare money laying around but if you ever feel like making a donation - think about ALS research.

And God said "let there be light".
Then General Electric pushed him out of the way and the era of Corporate America was born to rule the universe.

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Posts: 3,193
Reply with quote  #5 
Oh - Helen I was going to talk about your trip to Marrakesh.  It sounds interesting.  I love what you said about the desert.  I never thought I would like a desert but after seeing what you wrote - maybe I would.  
Thank you for posting all the pictures.  I always enjoy those.

And God said "let there be light".
Then General Electric pushed him out of the way and the era of Corporate America was born to rule the universe.
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