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5 December 2012

time travel - hello, morocco

*technically, this is not a 'time travel' entry, but i want to be able to find all my travel stories when i need to, so i shall keep it named as such for continuity. that said, let the story begin...

i had been packing, unpacking a repacking throughout the week. i had been keeping my eye on the local weather in marrakech, and it wasn't looking good. we were set for highs of 15 and lows of only 3 at night. how does one pack for that climate? not to mention the fact we couldn't check any luggage; our ticket only allowed for carry on. i think i took so much out, put so much back in, just to take it out again. i settled on 2 maxi skirts, a handful of tops with short sleeves and one long sleeve, a couple cardigans and leggings, a pair of flip-flips, a pair of sandals, pj's, a big scarf and my leather jacket. plus what i was wearing that day. i had a small amount of room left in there for souvenirs etc, plus i had all my toiletries and make up and a couple books for good measure. all that, in a measly carry on tote. 

bex and i had to get the coach from victoria to gatwick, and i was freezing on the way there. i had just basic tights, my burgandy polka dot dress, a cardi and my leather jacket on, and it was.. not enough. i didn't think i would need anything warmer though, so resolved to leave my winter coat at home. i could really have done with it that day in particular (and on the return journey too). we stopped and grabbed some snacks for the journey, then went off to find our coach.

the ride to the airport is around an hour and a half, and we had already checked in online so when we arrived at gatwick it was definitely time for a coffee. we sat and drank until our gate was announced, then headed to boots to stock up on snacks to get us through the flight. had i know this would be my last decent meal for a while, i would have chosen better options...

i think our seat numbers were 15E and 15F meaning we had a window and a middle seat. we got ourselves settled with our books and multiple snacks and waited and waited for the spare seat to be filled. the captain announced it was to be a full flight, but we were hopeful. slowly, slowly, the passengers boarding seemed to dwindle down, and there was still a whole row in front of us spare. things were looking good for us, until we heard a commotion at the door of the plane, and looked up to see 5 loud, blingy, drunk lads heading our way. bex and i exchanged a few 'oh no' glances, and prayed they weren't sitting with us. as it turns out, they weren't; they were sitting in the whole row in front of us instead. muuuch better. the whole flight sat behind them was one loud blur. there was music being played from one of their phones aloud for all to cringe to, there was the illegal opening of duty free alcohol to guzzle with pepsi and bottomless ice, there was even half a dozen cheeky cigarette breaks in the toilets. it's only a three hour flight. i don't know anyone who can't go three hours without a cigarette. rebekah and i made a few cheeky comments to them, which seemed to have the opposite of the desired effect, and somehow we got wrangled in to actually having to make conversation. ("is this your first time to marrakech?" "yes." "what are you going to marrakech for?" "peace and quiet" etc.)

thankfully, the flight attendants were on to their illegal drinking, and one we'd dobbed on them for smoking, the pilot issued a verbal warning over the tanoy, and threatened to land us in oporto. this had the marockneys (as we'd so lovingly named them; we figured they were from east london with their 'street' language and behavior, innit) in fits of riotous laughter. they weren't bothered, obviously this was regular behaviour for them. the one in front turned to us and asked if we had ratted on them. there was no point in lying, we had just about had a gut full. instead of being shocked or angry, somehow they decided they'd try and make friends with us, and offered us their criminal booze. errrr, no. thanks though.

as we were making our way off the plane, there was a small cheer that erupted from the passengers who were all seated nearest to the marockneys. everyone had let them off first - we wanted them gone! when we hit the bottom of the stairs on the tarmac, we saw the welcome party that were waiting for our lads... the local police. overjoyed, everyone stared and tutted as they were escorted inside the building. holiday makers 1; marockneys 0.

we made our way out to the arrival lounge and met up with the agent from the travel company who would be escorting us back to the hotel. while we waited for the rest of the passengers who were booked at the same hotel, we went off in search of an atm. it was at this point we realised the amount of eyes that were on us. all male. we felt started to feel really uncomfortable. we were all covered up too, so we weren't sure what to make of the attention. we chose to ignore it. at the atm, after working out the exchange rate, we felt like millionaires! and then, we struggled to fit the wads of cash into our travel size purses. ha!

we arrived at the hotel, and checked in amongst the 12 other english folk from our flight - or, 'the mums and dave' as they soon became referred to as. the room was nice and spacious, with a balcony overlooking the front of the hotel and looking into marrakech towards the medina. from the balcony we could see the new 'shopping centre' and the megarama (where the ramas are mega!) which we deduced was a cinema complex, and the sporadic housing and hotels in the area. lush! the only downfall: no internet in the room. sad times! we did figure out that we could access it from almost just outside our room, which was annoying. we dumped our stuff in the room, and headed to the restaurant for our 1 of our 2 complimentary 'meals' a day.

what a disappointment. i was so looking forward to the moroccan food; i love cous cous, salads, all kinds of spices and use a lot in my own cooking. this is how i imagined our hotel food would be. well i couldn't have been more wrong. the restaurant had basically put on a smorgasbord of cold options like plain cous cous, a pasta and tuna dish, quinoa and peas, lentils, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and random pots of hummus, olives and salad dressing. strange, as there was no salad in sight. oh, and the eggs. there was always a whole plate full of boiled eggs. so strange. there was a couple of 'hot' options too; usually a 'chicken' (couldn't prove it), a soup, a couple of plates of veggies, occasionally a random hot pasta dish and rarely anything that looked delicious. the one thing we noted for certain was that once we had piled the food on our plates, it appeared that every dish had taken on the same colour: beige.

after our first of many disappointing meals, we headed into the lounge to rape the wifi for a while before retiring early. we had a meeting early the next day with the hotel rep, and planned to wander the markets after that, plus we were fairly shattered from all the travelling, and were desperate for a sleep. 

maroc and roll!