April, 2006

Chasing Waterfalls

Posted on: April 30th, 2006 by robert No Comments


'The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us.' Quentin Crisp

'To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.' Oscar Wilde

Still smarting from my fallout with G, I enter the last day of the holiday with a melancholic sense of relief. For our final day we visit Cascades d'Ouzoud, in the village of Tanaghmeilt, 167km north east of Marrakech high in the Atlas Mountains. They're Morocco's most spectacular waterfalls and worth the long journey. The three-tiered falls drop 110m into the river below. Souvenir stalls lead down the cliff path to the small rafts decorated in flowers which ferry people across this short stretch of water. On our descent down the craggy path we stumble upon a family of the most beautiful and tactile wild Barbary Macaque monkeys who were residing in the olive trees and happily posing for photographs.... Read More

Easter in Africa

Posted on: April 30th, 2006 by robert No Comments


Relations with S have plummeted to new lows since G's departure. I mistakenly presumed his absence would somewhat rally her levels of camaraderie and stir some redemptive warmth. But her obstreperousness continues with vigour, trammelling any possible enjoyment of the last few days.... Read More

The Awkward Farewell

Posted on: April 30th, 2006 by robert No Comments


'To know all is not to forgive all. It is to despise everybody.' Quentin Crisp

We arrive back into town after 10pm, and from the rabble of the train station we jump a cab which takes us to our next hotel for the remainder of our stay, the Riad Omar - a less grandiose choice of accommodation after our two previous palatial residences though fortunately more central and with an extra bedroom.... Read More

A Return to the Red Ochre City

Posted on: April 26th, 2006 by robert No Comments


We made it out of Fez in the nick of time to catch a train back to Marrakech. The station when we arrived was closed owing to an overcrowded platform, the consequence of which was a small riot. Irate Berber people had begun smashing windows and trying forcibly to knock down the huge wooden doors which had been bolted from the inside. Exhibiting a collective perspicacious judgment, we managed to escape the debacle by sneaking in through a side door through the station's cafeteria kitchen and onto the far end of the platform while the sound of a small war resonated outside. After a lot of pushing and shoving to get on board – all politeness and british reserve has long since deserted us - we managed to obtain some seats, though alas this time not first class.

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Personal Traitor

Posted on: April 25th, 2006 by robert No Comments


'The challenge of modern freedom, or the combination of isolation and freedom which confronts you, is to make yourself up. The danger is that you may emerge from the process as a not entirely human creature.'

Saul Bellow, Ravelstein

I awake early again after another disturbed sleep. This is not surprising since my room is adjacent to another apartment where a Moroccan family reside. The undiluted racket from there is quite remarkable, and doesn't cease. I'm now certain these people don't sleep, during the night at least. There's the incessant chattering of foreign voices for a start, and the crash of crockery. Then the elliptical drone of machinery, and the echo of footsteps which ricochet off every available wall. There's even a small wooden shutter in the far wall from which last night at about 3am I peeked through and spied an elderly gentleman shuffle across the floor with trembling arms full of dishes.

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The Magic Carpets of Fez

Posted on: April 25th, 2006 by robert No Comments


Fez is a difficult city to fathom. The Medina itself is bewildering, and the constant attention from unofficial guides, hawks, shop keepers and even children is unnerving. The small community, such as it is, and the integration of businesses means that one minute you're being served in a restaurant by a waiter, and moments later given a private tour by the same waiter around textile workshops, ceramic stalls and herbal shops. Then, passed on to his brother to guide you even further into this medieval subterranea. It's essential you resist their seemingly magnaminous veneer as that initial service with a smile can instantaneously transmogrify into something altogether more sinister. ... Read More

Train to Fez

Posted on: April 25th, 2006 by robert No Comments


'I am never gratuitously rude. My rudeness is carefully calibrated to the stupidity and obtuseness of the people I am dealing with.' Adam Carr

When they initially told me the holiday would involve an overnight train journey from Marrakech to the ancient city of Fez, I immediately romanticised the idea. It would be, I decided, a return to the golden age of travel. A stark contrast to the ubiquitous pendolino cross-country back in blighty, with its delays and overpriced snacks. Could this Moroccan sleeper be akin to an Orient Express of Africa? All steam, luxury and exoticness. We'd drink the bar dry cantering from medieval city to medieval city as night falls, before taking to our beds in a pristine cabin and under crisp linen sheets let the rattling of the carriage rock us to sleep.... Read More

Carnival of Chaos

Posted on: April 25th, 2006 by robert No Comments


Our first taste of Marrakech not only proved the guide book correct in its description as 'an assault on the senses' but that the claim was, we learnt with surprise, a vast understatement. It is the most intoxicating city one could ever visit.... Read More

Blue Leather

Posted on: April 25th, 2006 by robert No Comments


“I nearly never made it. Work didn't want me to come.”

I was alarmed at G's announcement. “He's gotta fly back early,” insisted S scanning the glimmer of suspicion on my face. I didn't believe him at first and stood in the check-in queue at Gatwick waiting for a punchline.... Read More