Some random scenes

So I’ve finally got my arse in to gear and sorted out just a few random snaps from the holiday so far:

So there will be snow in Africa this Christmas?

So there will be snow in Africa this Christmas?

The bravest man in Marrakech!

The bravest man in Marrakech!

This traffic policeman stands at the intersection of five lanes of Marrakech traffic armed with only his .45 automatic. Me, I’d want a Chieftan tank and a brigade of Ghurkas before I put myself in harm’s way to that degree!

Yoda, visiting Marrrakech

Yoda, visiting Marrakech

A Bedouin tribesman, there are many in town at the moment because of the recent Toureg fair.


Well obviously

I know we’re in the sub-Sahara zone and all that but stone me it’s hot today. 28c here is more like 32/34c in Spain. Something to do with the quality of the air? Even at 28c the sun is fiercely burning!

We’ve been out on an excursion today, it took us through most parts of the modern and ancient city of Marrakech. The trip also gave us a good look at the unbelievably snowy Atlas Mountains (though I don’t think my photographs will come out very well because of the heat haze between us and the peaks).

I think it’s fair to say that we’re both wasted and a quiet siesta with a couple of good books is going to be our main occupation for the next few hours.

Snoozing may occur.

While we were waiting for the bus back from the centre of the new town to our hotel we sat on a large stone and watched one of the many street vendors do his thing.

He herded out from the small gathering of tourists a New Zealand guy, and repeatedly badgered him to buy a pair of hooky sunglasses. The price started at 500Dhs with New Zealand guy firmly saying ‘no’.

He was still saying ‘no’ when the street vendor said ‘Give me 20Dhs for them’. New Zealand guy was right on the edge of saying ‘OK’ just to shut him up, I could feel it and so could the street vendor. And then the bus came along and New Zealand guy got on it with us and that was the end of the potential sale.

New Zealand guy, like the vendor, was polite at all times and kept saying things like ‘You’re very persistent, you’re in the right job!’ which didn’t – in my view – help with what should have been his default ‘bog off’ position.

But it was an amusing five minutes that helped to take our minds off the heat.

I’m just wondering why the street vendors don’t bother us in the same way they bothered him? Must be something about our attitude and body language, I guess. 🙂

20Dhs is just less than £2 at the current rate of exchange.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I’ve got a book on Saudi Arabia and a hot woman waiting in bed for me…

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas

I was going to do a comedy rant about BandAid getting it so wrong and that the next time you hear Feed The World you should write Midge Ure a letter to tell him that actually Midge, there will be snow in Africa this Christmas. And for a long spell of time either side of Christmas. And have you never heard of the Rif Mountains or the Atlas Mountains Midge? And do you know which continent these mountain ranges are on, Midge? And do you know precisely how close to the Sahara desert the Atlas Mountains are Midge? That’s really *really* close isn’t it Midge? And what’s the Atlas Mountain covered in Midge? Fuck me, that’s snow. And what’s that topping off the Rif Mountains Midge? Fucking hell, that’s snow too.

Yeah, as I said, I was going to do a comedy rant about BandAid getting it wrong.

Good job I couldn’t be arsed.


Hardening the arteries

We have just returned to the hotel. Four hours ago we walked in to the centre of ‘old Marrakech’ (much to the annoyance of everyone – who seemed to be connected to the local transport industry, whether they be taxi drivers, sons of taxi drivers, uncles of taxi drivers or great, great, great grandsons of taxi drivers; all of whom begged and berated us to take a taxi in to town rather than walk and thereby make a sector of the local transport economy bankrupt).

And if they weren’t taxi drivers or relatives thereof, they were horse-and-carriage drivers. Or relatives thereof.

We have seen many horses in harness; singles, matched pairs and (far more common) amusingly mismatched pairs. Fifty or sixty horses working the streets of Marrakech in harness. Easily 80% of them lame – seriously lame, from general unsoundness to hopping lameness. I wouldn’t get in one of those carriages if you paid me and if the driver presented me with a vet’s certificate that the animals were hale, hearty and healthy. For me – and this analogy may offend some people but I’m past caring about the sensibilities of anyone else and I really don’t give a toss – it’s like child porn; if there’s a demand for it, it will continue. If, however, the demand goes away, the received logic has it that so too will the product.

And if you don’t like this logic can I just point out that this is the logic that is being used by almost every government on the face of this planet. It isn’t my logic, alright? So to get back on topic, my message is simple; don’t use horse-and-carriage transport where the poor animals are unsound. OK?

But, to be clear, I don’t blame either the wider Moroccan people or the inhabitants of Marrakech in particular. I blame ignorance. Because here, lives are cheap, horses are cheaper and when your horse has gone down for the last time you toddle off and sell it to the local butcher and several families will live quite well on meat for a month or two.

Anyway, I didn’t intend this to be a rant about animal welfare. It just turned out that way.

But to fill in a few of the blanks, we are having a wild and fun time, the people seem to be embarrassingly friendly, the hotel is a dream (I’d like a five star hotel like this in London for £41/night please!. And our room has a top ten shower in the world. Ever!) and the weather (so far) has been excellent, and has already caused Sophie to break out the sunscreen within half an hour of sitting by the poolside.

Today is a huge Toureg festival in Marrakech, they’ve come from all over the Saharan region to buy, sell or just see and be seen. The main square/souk was filled with thousands of people this evening and I suspect the party will go on for many hours.

We’ve probably insulted dozens of people by saying ‘Non!’ to various goods and services, but we’ve eaten very well at one market stand, and we have scoffed far more biscuit-type things that are probably nothing more than deep fried coconut and butter. Delicious!

But we’re done for now. We’ve got a few plans for tomorrow but next up this evening we’re going to break out a West Wing DVD, snuggle up in bed and watch Bartlett be Bartlett.

Honestly, does it get much better than this?


What’s new with you guys?