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?