There is only so much to do in Agadir so, after a few days of waiting for good weather, I decided to see a little more of Morocco and took the express bus to Marrakesch for a little over ten Euros. Most of the journey was through a barren landscape of sand, stone and scrub but occasionally we passed a colorless village with the square minaret of its mosque. A highlight was seeing the snow capped Atlas Mountains in the far distance and in the foreground a farmer ploughing with two donkeys.
Going to Marrakesch I caught a bus from CMI and on the way back Supratours. Both offered a luxury version but I took the standard bus for about ten Euros.
We reached Marrakesch bus station just before sunset and I hiked through the city to the Medina where I found a room on the roof of a house in a side alley. The Medina is a warren of small streets and deep, partly roofed alleys that block the sun. As you move around you compete with bikes, motorcycles, donkey carts and a press of people moving at random. It all takes patience and time. Tiny shops line the alleys and spill out in to the street. Everything from bike repair to butchers and carpenters to tourist traps is mixed together with no obvious system.
Annoying men permanently tell you that you are going the wrong way in the hope that they can “guide” you to some location where you can part with money. Wherever you are going they “know a better way” which they would love to show you. I tried politely saying no in three languages. I tried being impolite and even saying I was going nowhere. Nothing worked except ignoring them completely.
During the day I walked to the Koutoubia Mosque and then past the Royal Palace. Neither were exciting but the walk offered another chance to enjoy watching the theater of street life. It was very interesting to see how quickly the illegal street traders disappeared as a police patrol approached. All their items were displayed on tarpaulins with ropes threaded through the corners. One pull on the rope and trader and stall disappeared down a side alley.
The locals were all convinced that I really needed whatever they were selling. They offered me amazing one off prices and unheard of deals on everything. I explained that I no longer have a home to fill with objects and that I own everything I need but this was beyond the comprehension of these prophets of consumerism. They all assumed this was some amazing new bargaining tactic and just redoubled their efforts and halved their prices.
The house I stayed at was the Riad Minorisa (www.riadminorisa.com). Behind its somewhat forbidding door it has a three storied central courtyard with the rooms radiating off of it. My room was on the roof with a great view of satellite dishes and minarets. A full breakfast was included, the shower worked perfectly and the wifi was good enough. The staff were friendly and helpful.
Marrakesch is a permanent assault on all your senses (especially the smell in the tanneries) but there are many small cafes where, for the price of a cup of tea, you can sit off to one side and enjoy the happenings from a ring side seat before returning to take part again. The waiters don’t mind if you spend an hour over the one cup of tea and mostly seem perfectly happy to leave you alone all afternoon.
It was an interesting few days but I wasn’t unhappy when I received a message to return to Agadir to prepare to sail.