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September 15, 2008

Back To The Blues

Well, we got back safe and sound from our trip to Morocco. Definitely a different trip for us. For the first few days we actually played tourist and 'saw the sights' of Marrakech. After that we escaped the city and headed inland to the Atlas mountains and did a little trekking. Our return to Marrakech was more about some much-needed relaxation than tourism.

What did I think of the place? Here's the thing: Morocco knows what it is now, in terms of being a tourist destination for 'Western' (mostly French and British) tourists. Moroccans are mostly poor and will do anything to get hold of your cash money. You literally can't walk down a single street in Marrakech without being hassled at every turn to buy some piece of tat or other that you really don't want or need, invariably at an incredibly overinflated price. It's almost ironic that you get constantly heckled with the mantra 'Come see, come see... ASDA price!'

When we were in the mountains we stopped in at a couple of the local Berber shops, still selling the same mass-produced trinkets as you'd see throughout the capitol. At one store I bought a fossil for a work friend who's a bit of a paleontologist wannabe. After much haggling I managed to barter the shopkeeper from 200 down to 80 dirhams, roughly £6. I knew I was being ripped, but for a matter of a few pence I wasn't going to argue. It wasn't necessarily about getting a good price. Anyway, upon our return to Marrakech I found a very similar, possibly nicer specimen in a (supposedly overpriced) wholesale store for 19 dirhams... about £1.35. Basically, the guy started off by trying for a 10x profit. In the end he still managed to get 4x, which isn't bad.

As we were passing shops on our way out of the mountains we were actually heckled by a couple of shopkeepers for not buying from them when we said we might come back but didn't. Not a very pleasant experience. Some of the curses I caught were pretty graphic and not really repeatable here.

Perhaps it's a good thing that one trinket I did purchase was a silver 'Hand of Fatima' (or Hamsa, depending which faith you buy into). I'm not religious or superstitious, but it's supposed to be a good luck charm and is used to ward off the 'Evil Eye'. Might come in handy!

I think it's safe to say that while I would visit Morocco again to go on another trek or to undertake an excursion into the desert, I don't think I'd choose to spend much time in Marrakech again. I'd recommend tourists go for a long weekend, but frankly the insanity of the place wears you down pretty quickly and after a few days of being constantly hassled you just want to leave.

I'm sure some would disagree with me, though, and to some extent my 'review' of the place is clouded by a black mood that has descended upon me today. All is not right with my world. The blues have well and truly arrived, in more ways than one. My brain fug to one side, the blues also arrived in the form of the 20th Anniverary Layla CDs, including a series of Duane/Eric (and The Dominos) jams and out-takes from the original sessions. When I cheer up a bit I'll have a listen.


Aunt Jackie said...

God everybody's life is so much more interesting than mine. :((

Axe Victim said...

Only you can swan off on some exotic holiday and return to find the 20th Anniversary Layla box set on your door mat and you are still complaining?!!!

Hope you cheer up soon mate.

Then get yer finger out!!!

Kenski said...

There's an old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times :-)

Sometimes 'the norm' is where it's at!!!!

Ach, I'm much less miserable today... though I'm still incredibly sunburnt in all the wrong places, which makes life uncomfortable! Looking forward to listening to those jams!!!!