Fresh from two weeks of travelling on second rate buses; eating roadside bbq's of meat offcuts; cold showers; squat toilets and the complete absence of the english language. The Australian welcome at the very 'chilled' riad "Dar Afram" in Essaouira's medina came as a comforting surprise. The riad, hidden down a small Moroccan alley has no signing indicating it's location except for a small "Dar Afram" and guitar on the front door; giving a little incite as to the overall vibe of the riad; music.
Taz the Moroccan/Australian from Newcastle with his completely aussie accent showed me round th riad with it's 5 floors and rooftop terrace looking out over Essaouira and the atlantic ocean.
The Riad's musical vibe is in no small part as a result of Taz's dad. Owner of the riad he travelled the world with his band "Dar Afram" during the seventies and eighties and brings his musical talent to the riad with regular outbursts of singing and guitar jams. The Afram feasts are served at around 8 each night; cous cous, tagines, soups, fruits are all served in the communal dining area filled wih traditional Morocan lounges surrounded by slowly burning candles. Providing the perfect atmosphere to chat away the night passing around the odd 'Morrocan delicacy' whilst jamming on the digeridoo and guitars.
Essaouira has had a massive boost in the level of tourism over the past few years and this has resulted in the opening of several clubs, or 'boit de nuit'. On my second night I had been given the directions to the club and began to walk along the medina wall; I walked past a restaurant with a few men standing out the front and asked one of them if they knew where the bar was;
'upstairs' whispered the big moroccan. Five flights of stairs later the floor opened out with a DJ, stretched bar and around a hundred people, mostly westerners, were lounged about drinking a few 'illegal' Beck's and Heineken's. The price of alcohol in Morocco is about twice that of Australia especially after midnight when the prices go up even further; this doesn't seem to affect the Morrocan's however as they tend to be fairly out of it after one or two beers. When I was at the bar talking to a girl from Sweden and just avoiding a fight with a drunk fifty year old Italian; I heard another familiar accent from across the bar and was invited back to the 'Australian' table; the group of three blonde, one brunette Australian girls had a swarm of Morrocan guys around them trying their hardest to impress the 'beautiful foreign goddesses'.
"You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen." and
"I am a pro kitesurfer" seemed to be their favourite pick up lines for the night. We sat around in the Morrocan lounges until around 2; chatting, drinking and dancing, to sweet arabic beats.
For the next few days I felt like I was back in Australia with all my time spent with Australian's; drinking, bargaining in the souqs, jamming on guitars and tanning on the riad roof.
After the night before's hassles from the Morrocan guys; we ended up chillin in the riad and drinking classy Morrocan wine into the night. With the music being provided by someones mobile; Young Mc - Bust a Move.
The Aussie girls headed back to their jobs in London; Taz continued to work in Morocco; and I headed off to Marrakesh to catch my flight to France. With a few more glasses of wine to kick off easter and to mark an end to a sweet adventure along the coast of Morocco.
An Australian couple Anouk and Nathan who were travelling round the world with the theme of hiking in mind had just arrived in Morocco from Nepal and were off to the High Atlas to trek some more; they had hours of stories from Nepal to tell and made my trip seem like luxury in comparison to some of the things they had to deal with.That arvo I managed to score a lift on an earlier bus to Marrakesh allowing me to avoid missing my plane.
I then arrived via taxi into the chaos that is Marrakesh airport on the last day of the Easter long weekend. With ticket machines bursting open; "free plane ride anyone?";
Delays, cancelations and more delays; it began to feel as though no one was going to get out of Morocco that night. Each plane tha arrived was accompanied by cheers from the hundreds of people sitting around on the floor of the Morrocan airport doing their best to pass the time.
Three American girls I was talking to had a really good story;
They are studying in Barcelona and had come to Morocco for a week; they had a plane to Barcelona that morning but slept through their alarm and missed their flight. Because it was easter, everything was booked out but there was a flight at 7pm to Madrid from which they could catch the 5 hour train to Barcelona. They waited at the airport from 7am till 7pm to be told their plane would be delayed by an hour. Then an hour later they said it would be a further hour; then an hour later they announced it would be delayed again for an hour. Then finally at aroun 10pm they were told that the flight had been cancelled. The Easyjet representative stood up and told this crowd of a hundred fuming Spaniards and the three American girls, that they promised they would have an alternative flight for them to Madrid within.......
yes....within "14 DAYS!". Welcome to Morocco.
I was lucky and my flight was only delayed by 4 hours leaving at 12pm; I arrived in Marseille at 4am and everything in the airport was closed. By this time I had been awake for 21 hours; I then had a 4 hour wait in the airport which involved constant trips to the espresso machine. It is now 12pm and I am finally settled in; in an hour I will have been awake for 30 hours and after the hassles of the past few days; I am definitely ready to sleep.
Morocco was incredible; a country of many colours with something to appeal to everyone, I will definitely be back. Amazing Adventure.
Garrett in Marseille; France.