We were to spend two weeks in Morocco, a country we have loved in the past and which has not failed to live up to expectations again.
It is a land of contradictions – most of it arid, desert landscapes but with splashes of vibrant colour in the towns, cities and most of all the pèople. You will go a long way before you find people more full of warmth, humour and kindness than in Morocco.
After leaving Todra Gorge we headed for Marrakech. I had been before with my sister for a long week-end but it had never been part of the itinerary for James, Henry and me on our previous trips together.
But first we stopped off at a Kasbah in the desert. This place was actually a film set – Indianna Jones, Games of Thrones and many others have apparently been filmed here. We´re not exactly sure of the complete list as every stall had a different selection of famous, and not so famous, films! It was a very quiet and atmospheric place though the views were gorgeous.
As ever, even the long drives gave food for the soul and the markets we found along the way provided great opportunities for stocking up on all those things you never knew you needed!!
But finally we arrived in the big city. Marrakech is an assault on the senses – the sounds, smells, colour. From Jeema El Fna square to the mosques to the winding souks selling anything and everything, a couple of days in this city is always a thrill.
We booked into a Riad for the night as the city comes to life at night and we wanted to experience everything it has to offer after dusk. Some of the architecture was worth the visit in itself.
And James – finally! – got himself a shave. The barber was lovely, not just a shave but eyebrows, ears, nose, cut his hair and gave him a shampoo. He´s never looked so clean!
But eventually we had to say goodbye to this lovely city and continue our trek south. Next stop – the port town of Essaouira
Essaouira is very quiet in comparison to Marrakech! Sleepy streets, beaches and some sadly decaying architecture. It was absolutely baking hot as well which took us by surprise and I have been sporting my first bright red, sunburnt nose ever since….
I cannot deny, one of the main reasons why I love Morocco is….cats! You all know how much of a cat person I am, well so are the Moroccons! Every town, village and city is swarming with feral cats – or as I think of them, community cats. The people feed them, look after them and pet them. Some are incredibly friendly, others want to keep a safe distance, but whereever you go, cats will be there.
I have tried not to fill this blog with cat photos, but I couldn´t help but share these little cuties, one of which who joined us for lunch! One of these days someone is going to find their way into the Landrover and be our official travel cat!
As we made our way out of the town towards the Sahara the landscape started to subtely change. We were following the coast road so crashing waves and sheer cliff tops were becoming a staple. We were also heading further into the desert so our wild camps were very picturesque.
Steve, the trusty driver of the convoy truck takes it all in his stride as the mad tourists take endless photos.
But as ever, all good things must come to and end and we were about to leave Morocco to start our 5 day trek across the Western Sahara – still technically part of Morocco but we were getting prepared for á whole lot of nothing´! We were excited! We filled both fuel tanks up to the max, filled all the water containers up and bought two additional cans just to be safe. Mum was called and warned we would be out of contact for a while and we finally set off down the long, coast road into the rolling dunes of the Sahara for the long, dusty drive to the Mauritanian border.
Or at least, that´s what we thought!