27 Oct 2004. Essaouira.
Very nice. It's so touristy that I'm not the only European in town even though it's R'dan. Apparently Jimi Hendrix used to come here on his holidays. I bet he checked whether it was R'dan first. Sorry - I'm becoming obsessed.
28 Oct 2004. Essaouira.
In the medina one can stuff one's face while watching Arab musicians play just loudly enough to mask the noise of their stomachs rumbling.
I wander around afterwards admiring the handicrafts with minimal sales hassle. I even find a photographic shop that dumps all my pics onto CD for £3.
The ramparts are very fine.
Apparently Orson Welles filmed the opening scenes of "Othello" here, doncha'know. Finally I slope off to the internet cafe.
At dusk I arrive back at my bike, parked just outside the medina wall. I reach for the key pocket - and *SLAP* my heart drops down onto the top of my bladder. No keys. It's very humid, I'm wearing a jacket and I got very lost indeed trying to find my way out of the medina. I'm sweating like a pig with malaria. My spare keys (the ones that were originally taped under the saddle - do try and keep up) are, intelligently, locked inside one of the boxes to which one of them is the key. Still with me? I'm fucked. There exists one more spare set, but they're in Petworth, West Sussex, and the post isn't all it could be in England, never mind Morocco.
Bathed in sweat, I hop back into the medina to retrace my steps. The restaurant doesn't have them. The internet place doesn't either. The photo shop is shut, and I'm fairly sure I didn't leave them there anyway. I get very lost again. Mmfff... no sweat left in body...
I really don't know what to do now, so I decide the best course of action is to go across the road and check into the blisteringly expensive Sofitel opposite. It's a good move. A luxury hotel is exactly what's required in a moment of true sweaty panic. I have a bath and watch BBC World in a shag-pile dressing gown lined with dormouse throat fur and eventually nod off, forgetting the world of pain that lies ahead.
29 Oct 2004. Essaouira.
Things look better after a room service breakfast on the balcony overlooking the pool. The worst-case scenario is that I'll have to stay in Essa for an unspecified period waiting for spare keys, and buy a big chain in the medina to lock up the bike properly. And not lose the key.
In the event I don't have to do any of that. I head off to the photo shop and, three words into my faltering French explanation of my problems, the man in the shop shouts -HUUUAGGHH!- with laughter and waves my keys under my nose.
I could kiss him but his moustache looks rather bristly and there seems to be some pastry in it, which, given that it's Ramadan, must be last night's. So I don't.
Instead I race back to the cheaper of the two hotels I'm paying for today and hightail it to Agadir.
If you're interested, the tax on the Sofitel bill was more than the entire bill for three nights in the cheap one. Oh dear. That cannot be allowed to happen again.
NOTE TO SELF: Don't do anything stupid from now on.
The same day. Agadir.
The hotel in Agadir is -thank God- the cheapest so far. £5.25 for a room with a shower! And it only smells a little bit of sick.
There are no cynical children in Morocco. You wave - they wave back, grinning like tiny Bob Monkhouses. Usually they wave first.
If you tried this in England you'd be greeted with a chorus of "fuck off grandad" and then locked up for being a nonce.
After Agadir it's unknown territory. Agadir is still a little bit Europe. The LP guide says it stinks of Ambre Solaire, and all you can hear is the rustle of Der Speigel and The Sunday Times. But further south we're into Western Sahara territory. Disputed land. Gawd knows what happens there! But I'm sure it's very nice.
Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at December 28, 2004 04:39 PM GMT
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