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18 December 2012

time travel - morocco day four

turns out that pink wine, fromage and alexander before bed is a recipe for some straaaaaange dreams.. we were up early sunday as we had the half day ourika valley tour booked for a 9am pick up. we tortured ourselves with some more eggs before waiting in reception for our rep for the day. we were met by a local guide and driver for the day (forgive me, in can't remember their names), and were joined with the middle-aged newly weds dawn and james. aaah, dawn and james. we hopped aboard the mini van and set off.

small talk and broken english chit chats with the reps kept  us occupied for the journey to just up the foot of the atlas mountains, where we made our first of several stops; a real life berber village. we weren't sure why we had stopped there, because for about half an hour we just seemed to be standing around, making random comments about the size of the chickens and whether or not other villagers are allowed to marry into the tribes.. really riveting stuff. eventually, we headed into the village, led by our trusty 'guide' and in hot pursuit were 4 or 5 berber kids, trying to beg but forgetting that the actual point of begging is to beg, rather than just stick their hands out at us constantly.

we walked in and around the village, examining the architecture and external fixtures like the communal hammamammamam and the wood fire pizza  bread oven, and watched one of the villagers cook some bread herself. we climbed up and up, rebekah and i with the aid of the reps who were quite intent on making sure they held our skirts out of the mud for us - possibly a little higher than necessary, what... gentlemen? no. me thinks they had other things on their minds. while rebekeh was off taking pictures of more cats, i was being followed around and being 'warmed up' by the guide, who found my pasty white goose bumpy arms an actual delight to touch and stroke and rub until they were pink. i was starting to feel really awkward about all the attention i seemed to be getting, but we carried on - knowing these men were responsible for us getting home in one piece today. i went off to find rebekah, and brushed by a dirty wall - not a second later, the guide had his hands on me again, grabbing my skirt and 'brushing the mud off' from around my thigh and bottom. a little too hard and... there was no mud. stop lingering on my arse, kind sir. we all were asked to take a seat on the roof in the sun, while an older villager woman came out and demonstrated how they made traditional mint tea. we were poured out a glass each, and then the bread we watched being made earlier was brought out for us to try. we sat in the sun and dipped the warm bread into home made honey ("honey for my honey" - errr.. thanks, guy), olive oil and olive paste, and wondered... "is this the included lunch?"

[turns out, no. but, we were expected to leave a tip to the villagers for having us. which was not a problem, because the money is like, monopoly money and seems to have no real value, but... when you pay for a trip, and part of the trip is going and having tea and toast in a village, then.. haven't i already paid for this...? no]

we were helped off the room by our new boyfriends, and back into the bus, and off we went. we drove and drove, more random chit chat with our new pals dawnandjames, and photo ops as they presented themselves. we climbed higher and higher, to a point when our ears began to pop a bit, and where the snow was starting to show at ground level. we drove for about 45 minutes up, and then finally stopped. out we got, and the picture taking commenced. my boyfriend took pictures of rebekah and i, and asked if we wanted a picture with him... erm, no thanks. rebekah made a tiny snow man, i took pictures of my feet in snow. a few more random questions, this time about the way trees grow on the side of a mountain, something about a donkey, and then we were off again. this time - to lunch!

lunch was all inclusive, and thankfully our guides did not join us this time. the four of us sat in the sun with some of the most amazing views that i have ever seen. the food was highly anticipated by rebekah and i, after all the beige in the hotel - and it seemed that dawnandjames had been having the same issues with the local food that we had been. instead of eating in the hotel, they had been eating out at night at the local 'shopping centre'. mostly because dawnie doesn't like cous cous - i fear this could be the worst honeymoon destination, of all her three marriages. secondly in part, because james has a real issue with people who don't speak english. somehow... i wonder how these two haven't made it to morocco sooner.

the food was actually delicious. like, actually. and, besides the drinks, it was all paid for - not even a tip required. we sat while longer than necessary, and then all hopped back on the bus for the journey home. it was just after 1, and the tour was due to finish at 2. we piled in, full and happy, and a bit sleepy from the midday sun. as we wound our way back down the mountain, it was all really quiet in the bus, except for the guides, who spent the majority of the journey talking amongst themselves. they were talking in arabic, so we had no idea what they were talking about, until we came to a stop on the side of the road by what appeared to be a local butcher - goat and rabbit carcasses hanging in broad daylight, so the driver could buy his dinner for that night. ah. so that's what they were talking about. i had to turn away as the butcher came out and started hacking bits off the goat carcass right in front of us. i'm no vegetarian, but that was hard to watch!

besides the quick stop for meat goods, we were home in no time. rebekah even had a nap on the way back! we knew we would have to offer a tip or something, so when i handed over my 50dh it felt more like a pay off for leaving me alone, and hopefully never having to see him again. he lingered a little too long holding my hand after we shook-hands-slipped-the-cash-into-his-hand sneaky move, and i was glad to be done with him. it was just after 2 and the sun was actually quite nice down in the town. as this was our 'last day' before checking out and the day trip the following day, we decided to head back into the market to spend the rest of our money on souvenirs. we jumped in a cab, not caring how much they cost anymore because it's all just pennies really, and were big brave girls this time - we headed straight in, no mucking about!

somehow we had disillusioned ourselves into thinking that the markets weren't that bad that first day first day. oh, but they were. we wandered around for about an hour, trying to avoid the wolf whistles and name calling, as well as trying to buy actual presents. again we were able to find some really nice and helpful people, and they're the ones we ended up buying from. rebekah and her indecisiveness found us going from one stall to another until she could make up her mind, in the end getting a really good price on some plates for her mum and dad because i was dragging her away from the guy. i was saying "no no no, too much, she's not interested", while she was saying "sorry, sorry, sorry" and he was saying "good price, how much, best price"..it was a drama. she bought them in the end. under pressure, naturally.

we left shortly after, and it was pouuuring down. we were pro's at haggling by this time, and got ourselves a cab, and headed home. it had been another exhausting day. hey! they changed the desert that night, so that was a plus! it was still beige, but had a different flavoured icing, so that was a nice surprise. sick of the flavourless food, we bought ice creams and headed to bed. shawshank was on, my fave!

that day was very hands on.