Morocco is a fantastic place to visit. Flying into Marrakesh, your first thought is that the place is splendidly bonkers especially in the old walled city. The Medina is home to a very large Souk, a traffic system that must kill thousands and the kind of street theatre you could watch all day. The Souk can be simply described as an unmappable maze of interconnecting alleys fronted by tiny stalls selling everything. Some of it is tourist tat, but most of it isn’t with amazing spice shops crammed into tiny corners and welders practising their trade in the middle of the street.
And what streets they are – however narrow they must support at least five lanes of duplex traffic. You must never, even for a split second, glance behind you because rotating back frontwards will put you within biting distance of an irritated donkey or under the wheels of a scooter driven with the spirit of the immortal. The system seems to be trail sharing at it’s most democratic, pedestrians are rarely knocked over by donkeys who – in turn – are not abused by the plethora of barely working two wheel vehicles. Cars weave between this menagerie of random and road crossing becomes a simple process of “clench buttocks and run for it“. Don’t bother looking for a gap, there never is one.
But somehow it works. It is as if the town planners went on a fact finding mission to Mumbai and said “like what you are doing here but it’s not quite noisy enough and lacks a little danger”
Our hotel was smack bang in the middle of maelstrom of noise and movement and you are immediately struck by how cheerful everyone is. This isn’t some Muslim fundermentalist state, it’s more a generationally muted warrior tribe making a religious lifestyle choice. Sure you still get nutters and panhandlers but at least they are happy nutters.
The joy of arriving somewhere hot and happy was soon mitigated by the discovery that my bike was secondary picketing my still busted shoulder. The complex and expensive rear suspension had been transformed into a pogo stick when the damping circuits had clearly been seized by customs.
My plan for riding around the injury by setting the bike up super soft and sofa like was now somewhat compromised. Every time I touched a brake or rode over a large pebble, the rear end of the bike would rise like a kracken from the deep and transfer my body weight forward to my shoulders. One of which really didn’t want any weight on it at all.
A gentle ride round the walled city and a mad dash through the souk shredded the remains of my denial that everything would be all right on the night. But I was on holiday with my friends, we’d been promised there would be some infidel beverages with dinner and tomorrow we would be in the mountains.
So we watched the sun go down over the main square, sipping soft drinks and marvelling at what the locals could do with first a snake, and latterly with a pidgin and a hedgehog. I kid you not.