Morocco: Cafe Shawarma, Marrakesh

It's amazing how much perspective shift you get from 24h away from the truck; we're so much our own insular society when on the move that it's a reassessing shock to be independent again, with all the other truckers now irrelevant figures Somewhere Else.

I understand cults a little better now.

Chrono: A full day in the Todra Gorges, spent doing some aimless drifting. Walked a few K up the gorge with an unwell Heidi, then abandoned her to a herd of goats and walked up a little way, perched on a crag at the side of the gorge and listened to music and stared for a while.

Hundred-metre walls of red rock scored into layers, like rake marks on sand, ten or twenty feet deep, the lines dipping and swaying in every direction. Dry gravelbed occasionally marked by a pool of water after the creek had run dry, and a road/trail weaving drunkenly from one side of the creek to the other. An old man with leather skin and black teeth leading a dozen camels down into the gorge from the Sahara. Buses splashing through a few inches of water where the stream crossed the road to the hotel.

Returned, wandered to the village in the other direction, a wedge of shocking green beneath hills and cliffs of swept-bare rock. Walked through fields trailing eight-year-olds. No dirhams, no bonbons: bought 'em off with a taste of Portishead. Returned, picked up laundry, ate, chattered, "washed hands" w/oil, talked with solo Canadian traveller Sue, crashed.

Next day, trucked away for a long walk up the Dadoes Gorges, steep switchbacks and a winding road that curled down between two cliffs and next to a waterway, a dark few hundred feet. Hotels scattered apparently randomly. Pitched tents in a gravel tent, more or less, but fortunately we were on truck-guard duty.

Next day - Saturday, day before yesterday - on cook duty. Stopped in Ouarzazate and picked up "jefes" (?) - headscarves - and some food, some beer. Lunched in the desert, where the mud tracks from the last rain had dried and curled up in the sun, crunching like dry leaves when I walked on them. Afternoon stop by a village where parts of Lawrence of Arabia were shot, an unfinished village, sandbag stepping-stones, a crumbling ruin atop a hill with a glorious view - green valley beneath harsh brown scrub beneath a shimmering curtain of snow-capped mountains in the distance. "Gorge walkers can't handle slopes." Reluctantly rescued Heidi's speed-garage tape. Onwards to a campsite above a riverbed. Played drudge in Angela's epic 3.5-hour dinner production: chicken bake with bread-n-butter pudding. Great, but, never again.

Yesterday, zoned next to an apparently on-speed Tim as the truck wound its way up, through, and around the mountains en route to Marrakesh. The bare brown folds, furrows and ridges of a desert mountaintop. A red mountain lurking behind a screen of green ones. To a campsite outside Marrakesh. Showered & headed into town, hitching a bus ride with Heidi + Amanda. Heidi's loud "Evil Moslem" comment on the bus - my God. Long walk through medina, over ram's horns and Heidi's objections, to a halfway decent hotel and the wow-wow-wow grand square of the medina, countless stalls of oranges and food, henna tattooists and cobra charmers, hemmed in by anarchic traffic on three sides and an endless covered market on the other.

Went to new area of town - main strip, as with all Moroccan towns, is Blvd Mohammed V - but didn't meet our would-be rendez-vous'ers. Had damn fine cafe au lait and walked back to medina, where we ate at a stall and chilled on a terrace above the seething crowd. Heidi claimed the single bed, so battled with Amanda for the covers, and dropped into surreal Lariam dreams.

Woke, breakfasted on bread and orange juice - now that's Moroccan - split with the shoppers and had a cafe and IHT before going gift shopping (was given responsibility for PK's gift.) Found some nice sandals, but 50 Dh too much: we'll see. Roved down Mohammed V, bought soap + pens + paper, stopped here for a pizza. Plan is to check out the new area of town, meet H+A at 5, buy sandals, and head out for the night. Might change my $20 USD - last big town for a while.


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