Monday, 17 December 2012

qualidiya - casa !

December 3 We arrive in Qualidiya, a beach resort-like town and immediately accept our first
 offer to be led to a hostel, as the man offers us a good price.  Once we arrive to the beautiful
 house we learn that the price is almost double what he'd promised.  We're moving on and the man
stops us again, insisting he can find us what we want.  He'll get paid, see, for taking us
to a hostel (meaning we, too, pay extra for comission).
We bargain the next house down to a reasonable price, before discovering that the TV
in fact has a cut cord and the bed is hairy ...
  Then the woman starts asking for us to pay for other things, like the commision separately from the agreed on price.  We refused and managed to avoid her a lot throughout our stay.

But David and I dont really mind.
but it would have been nice to have more blankets.
  We'd planned to visit a kasbah (old city made of mud) a cab ride away from qualidiyya but we
spent our time in the peaceful city being lazy and basking in the joys of friendship over cards
story telling and general mucking around.
  Laughing about happiness and the beauty of the world.
That sort of thing.
  In Essouraera we spent the first two nights having nightmares.  The next night neither could
sleep etc etc And its crazy ! Our psychs are interlinked!! I suspect we struggled to sleep
though because since Morocco travellings been a tad easier as we have hostels and thus space and
time to just chillllllllllll out and properly enjoy eachothers company.

4th December
   From Qualidiyya we went to Al Jaldida, where we dropped off our bags at the bus stop in order
to enjoy a full day in the city.
   So in case your unaware, one of our travel friends, Andrew, has dread locks.  Firstly,
this draws any attention away from the blonde haired women, (or dark haired David),
 and onto the feminin-haired man.
But morover, all of Morocco(and Jordan, come to think of it) see dreads and are reminded
 of two things: Weed and Bob Marley.  So everywhere we go, the urchins call out to us;
'Hey! Bob Marley!' 'hashish?' 'how much you want?' and though we tell them that
No, we don't smoke, they simply don't believe us.
  Al Jadida holds a typical old city, fortified by the Portugese, with vibrant walls
of all colours -yellow pink blue - peeling off one another.
  The reason we were particularly keen to stop here was to see the underground water system.
I discovered that morning that my camera has manual settings, so we spent a good few hours
in the peaceful underground cavity experimenting with photography.
  We spent the last hour before the bus playing cards by the sea.

The afternoon bus drove us to Casablanca.  Holy Moly.  It was like driving into another world.
suddenly, the tin rooves and mud walls are a strange memory, as I'm presented with a
European Morocco.  I'm blinded by the lit up City Sky scrapers, and the flashing lights of
clubs and five star hotels.  Hundreds of people que the streets waiting for taxis, people
dressed very western - Short skirts, long boots, holding a take away coffee.  We're
released into an indoor bus station and wander out onto the streets shocked by a tramway.
  We've had no hot showers for what feels like weeks, and are feeling desperate for wi fi so
David and I can buy our tickets to Egypt. (And, more importantly, contact the fam!)
  We know from Anna's book where most of the hostels are and begin to persue these streets.
Full. Plein.  Desole, Desolee.  Every hostel, even the pricey ones we wouldnt have accpeted,
were booked out.  We refer back to the book to find a warning:
 You must book your hostel for casablanca in advance for they have a tendancy to book out all
year round.
 So we decide to carry our bags to the other side of town - to the madina - where's the
youth hostel.  We find one cranny to share, cheap enough, where they sqeeze in four matresses.
 Not quite the hot showers and wi fi we'd imagined, but David and I find a five star hotel
around the corner who let us use their internet for free!!!!

5th December
  Exploring Casablanca.  It has 700 mosques.  Went to the biggest one - its huge - biggest
in all the world and probably made with all the country's money.
  Its not so much the case with mosques, but David and I, travelling Europe, became replused
by all the churches (though we continued to visit em all).  They're glamour and gold hypocricize
all the values which we see akin to what they're meant to preach. This mosque reminded me
of the churches all over again.  However much I prefer to visit the ocean, and find a tree
far more consoling and spiritual than a church or mosque, I am a sucker for their beauty.
Particularly the designs of mosques.
  The old city of casablanca is really run down (strangely, as the rest of the city is so
well maintained).  The ground is upside down and rocky (perhaps about to be re-paved) and
the houses re made with scraps of timber or tin.  Nothing romantic about it, as with the
other madinas.  Though on the other side of town the roads are lined with spectacular
art nouveau architechture !! Perhaps I need to visit Paris because I really liked it.  Very
 dolly yet creative and bendy.
  It was on the bus out of casablanca (i wanted to leave sooner than later - back to the villiage
lifestyle which lives in the small cities and which I lovelovelove) that I saw the
outercity suburbs where most mosques and people live.  A lot of poverty.
  As you travel and talk to the locals, you get such a variety of opinions about the government.
I really cant generalise.  The english-speaking (thus well off?) young man I met in casa
told me that Morocco is doing far better than Europe.
  There are many Africans in Morocco, particularly Casablanca.  If theyre cuaght by
the police (as their visa expires after a short amount of time) the police usually says
'be good' and leaves them alone.
  Many used to travel through morocco to get to Europe, but as Europes economy is declining
more and more of them are staying in Morocco for work (legal or illegal).  Many people up
north of the Atlas are fairly well off.
most chickens you see in morocco are hangng at a shop window
or squeezed into cages

beach house

bread, cats, clothes, bike, wheely thing, etc

my model

Enlightened by our travels!


The 1st of December
  We arrive in the seaside city of Safi (renowned for pottery and sardines) 
  Standing out in the crowd like money in the dirt, we look around the deserted block for a
cheap hostel to drop off our bags.
  Across the road, we're being frantically waved over by a man and girl at a cafe/diner.
Theres nothing else around, so we go over and ask if they could direct us to a cheap
hostel (its about to rain, now, so we seem a bit cold and desperate).
  After a few minutes of giving us directions, the young girl
decides we can stay at her house for 2 euro each.  We agree on this, and can
leave our bags at the restaurant until 7:30; when she finishes work.  We  the syruppy
tea at the restaurant until the rain stops, and head off to explore Safi.

Safi is one of my favourite towns in Morocco.  The streets leading to the sea are full of
cheap and delicious street stores selling variantions of fish.  As in all of Morocco,
(save Casablanca) streets are lined with men who could be bbqing meat, deep frying meat,
deep frying/bbq-ing vegetables (eggplant, onion etc), or fish or simply offering boiled egg
with cheese which are then mixed into a sandwich with spicy sauces and onion or whatever
you want.  They're so delicious.  Otherwise, the local bean soup - or a soup made of snails
 is cooked along the street in large pots.
So Safi was really active - the streets were full of families laughing, cooking,
eating, shopping, playing etc and you could feel such good energies.
We wound our way into the old Madina and was caught admiring some amazing pottery
at the doorway to a teenie shop.  The man caught us and began to show us his work and then
insisting he take a photo of me whilst I worked for him (I was just decorating clay pots)
 - I said no no no (everything costs you) but I was sat down and soon enough we all sat down
on whatever he had - his jeans, his jacket, some cardboard,
and he began to teach us burber, as David taught him hebrew.  Everyone who
passed would say hello - salam allehkum - as the town is just so friendly.
Suddenly we were off, as he led us through the streets to what we thought would
be his workshop.  We're taken to a stunning view of the port to see the sun set, and then
 to an auspicious hilltop overlooking the whole city where lay an old and well kept synagogue.
For the first time in Morocco, police guarded the synagogue. Most synagogues across Europe 
have the same: uptight security which questions your purpose of visit - its rather
repulsive and completely destroys any spiritual vibes.  But these police were a bit different;
after our visit they questioned where we were staying that night.  'With a friend we met
at a cafe' i replied 'it's ok, she's really nice...' etc etc.
  They were suspicious but let us go (pulling out their walkie-talkies as we did so)
So we head off back to the cafe to meet the girl, and through the market streets we were
stopped again by some police.  "Where are you going? Do you have a hostel?"
  We explained the same story, though were beginning to feel a bit anxious as we noticed
that the police were following us through the streets.
  I got a bit nervous.  In Morocco there are strict laws where you need a permit to perform
whatever job you do.  This goes for guides also - if your guiding tourists you need a permit.
I suspected the police wanted to find this girl and fine her for taking us in without a hostel
manager permit, or something.
  Or perhaps we looked dodgy ourselves, sneaking through the streets with some whack story
of what we're up to...
  Everyone told me to relax. Though after we stopped for sweets (the patisseries are delish!)
we were haltered again by two policemen.
  They've been told there are four foriegners wandering the streets without a hostel. 
  Are we OK?
Yes, we're fine! We explain the story a third time.
  "Who is this girl your staying with?" They question us, "How many nights here? Only
one! You must stay more... But do you have her phone number? No?
 Then what will you do if she's not there?"
... (good question)
  Find a hostel?
The Police say that they'll follow us there on motorbikes to make sure everythings OK,
typically, we find ourselves lost before too long, but no problem: we ask the police trailing
 us for directions and he says to wait where we are - he'll grab his car and drive us there.
  Turning up with the Police!!! I feel like such a snitch to the lovely girl from the cafe,
but the policeman was being equally kind...
  When we arrive at the cafe the policeman waits in the shadows across the road, and lucky
he waited for the girl looks really apologetic
- her mother says we cant stay, in the end, and she's really sorry and - mid sentence -
the Policeman walks in (ope! awkward...) the girl looks betrayed.  he insists on driving us
 to a hostel.  All is good! The girl needn't feel guilty - as she seemed - any longer.
  Along the drive, the policeman begins to apologise - he'd love to have us stay at his house,
but he's working all night.  We must stay in Safi another night, at his house, so that
he can give us a tour of Safi.
  I tell him we'll have to discuss plans first, and he gives me his number
  (See I'm the designated "speaker" of the group, as I have french and arabic to work with
and english is lacking.  Thus any costs come down to my bartering skills (which are improving,
though my dread for doing it is painful) and any unanticipated events along the road are generally
to my fault or, as I usually see it, fortune) 
  I explain to the policeman that we want the cheapest hostel around and then, my goodness, he offers to
give us any money we need to make the costs.
no no no no.  Gosh, the extravagence of Moroccan hospitality!
  We find a hostel and go out for tea with some cool british tourists we meet there, trading travel
stories - my new hobby!

'what kind of tip is this photo going to cost me...?'

didnt even notice the cannon ...

soup stall by a madina's exterior walls

our friend the potter
(forgot his actual name)

he took us to a perfect sunset spot

david and the potter wandering up the highest hill to the synagogue

typical steet in madina
im afraid my amazing photos arent uploading well, im sorry, i think theyre the best part of the blog

Monday, 10 December 2012


30th We arrived in Essouiera by night fall, where we had to meet Andrew and Anna.
 So David and I pop into a little cafe where they have wi-fi (order huge chicken salad
sandwich for two dollars) and check our emails on Davids smart little phone. Andrew
and Anna are at a hostel without a name, to get there you turn right left right from the
madina's centre
..So the directions weren't so bad (we tend to find our way somehow) and we confidently
tell the spanish couple beside us that if they need a hostel they can follow us.
  So all together, following our dodgy directions, we begin to loose our way in and through
the Madina.  Many people come close to you as you stumble through the rocky streets
'L'aubergement?' 'Hostel?' 'Appartment - avec une terrace!'
No, no, no; We have a reservation, We lie to them (though many times its these street boys
who we take a hostel from...or an empty room above their neighbours house)
 We decide to ask one of the advertising men if he knows where a particular street is, and
then suddenly the spanish man we're with recognizes the guy we've asked from a previous
holiday, and he pulls out his phone and revealing a photo of them together.  We take another
photo.  Turns out the local guy knows the nameless hostel we're going to, and it turned out
to be the right one!
Problem was that the hostel workers had left Anna and Andrew "in charge" of the
hotel for the night and there was no key for us to open the door. We make a pot of tea,
 call over a neighbour and everythings sorted out.

 1st December We rise and shine early to explore Essouiera. A sea side city, of
awesome blues and whites.  Just like I imagine a Greek island would look.  I feel like
a princess walking through it.  Like all the madinas, the streets weave madly into eachother,
and houses seem to be built ignorant of the next one coming along - as the houses all
over lap, making triangular dead-ends and irregular shaped roads.  The windows and doors,
likewise, are put in oddly - without balance or allignment.  Connecting the pokey windows,
across the streets, string is strung and clothes glow high above you in the sunlight.
  Beyond the madina, by the bay, the old Portugese fortress walls extend into the fishing
port, and hundreds of blue and white fishing boats are piled atop one another, tangled
in ropes and nets, scrawling about like tentacles.  Theres a strong stench of fish (or Polly
after she'd dissapeared for a day) And along the streets scrawny cats crawl through the
piles of trash.  The street seems hovers as you walk along it, as fish scales fly about
with each step, and you cant help but gawk at all the tables set up, displaying rows of
teeth inside the mouths of giant fish, eels, octopus and lets not forget the bucket loads
of sardines.  30 cents for a kilo.
We stopped for a coffee (its really nice coffee at the coffee shops) and after
David's omlette fell on the ground they delivered us a new one without our asking.  They
also didn't charge us.  Thats just an example of how kind the people have been, and while
there are some noisy and desperate types, the people generally seem so kind and generous.
  Like picking up on France's coffee culture (making such delicious cafe au lait or
cafe noirs) Morocco also picked up on the crepe culture, and in Essouera (spelling??)
we found the hidden gem (the restaurant for locals - not tourists - which is hard because
locals dont usually eat out) where the crepes are cheap and yummy !!  One thing the people
do eat out though is soup - a creamy moroccan bean soup - which is cheap, too, at the local

restaurants (maximum fifty cents though I find the thirty cent places)
OK im not sure what went wrong with the photos but ill try again now

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Les Cascades d'Ouzoud

 28th November
David, John, Cosmo (Melbournians), Jo (fellow traveller from America) and I
head off for the cascades of Ouzoud.  We take a bus to the villiage Demnat,
where we hussle ourselves a cheap dorm to share, drop off our luggage, and
ask our hostel-man to find us a 'grand taxi' driver.  In Morocco you have
taxis - which take maximum 3 people for an expensive price, and 'grand taxis'
which have set routes, for which everyone pays a set price each.  The problem
is that tourists are always made to pay more than the locals.  That hadn't
become a stress for us yet, however.  So we squish into this guys taxi and
drive over to a touristy little hilltop.
  It was the same in cappadocia; the way your surroundings look so normal,
so usual, and you doubt your close to anything really special.
And then you reach the edge of the trees to the cliff face - or the hill top -
and are struck by the deep cut in the earth, reaching into a wild valley where
waters crashing madly down down down until you have to squint to see if its
another person down there or not.
  That you didn't expect it makes it feel surreal, at first, and it also makes
you wonder all the other little holes in our earth you might not have seen on
the bus trip.  What other mind blowing wonders lye just beyond the corner, where
we might not bother look.

  The waterfall is tall, and like a fancy fountain, takes many streams and circuts
down the cliff giving off an illusion like it has viens - or roots - and thus a life
of its own.
  We wandered along the cliff face, turning our necks backwards so that we could see
the waterfall all the while.  We stopped at one grassy point along the route to admire
the view, and right after wondering aloud where the monkeys were, a little tribe comes
climbing into view.  Papa crawling up the front, a fat and proud little beast, followed
by a Mama Monkey who carried a baby bubba scrawled on her back.

Monkeys are intriging, because you can relate so much to their gestures and expressions.
Yet we still feel so far away to them, mostly due to our social norms I think.
  We watched the monkeys for a long while.
  We got lost down the valley, admiring how the olive trees hold little islands of earth
in their tentacles as the rest of the mountain has melted down.  And the rocks - with
amazing patterns exemplifying the magic of water pressure.

  Sunset was amazing, as the rocks lit up pink blue gray into fuzziness so that we could
only hear the crashing water, and let our noses guide us back.

  It happened on the taxi drive up too, where the driver let David take the wheel (taxi
drivers who dont speak english always assume we can drive) while he put something
black out of foil and into his teeth.  It sped up the drive home, and after we asked
(through a charade-like conversation) we discovered it was a speed like drug.
but the town od Demnat was beautiful.  The food was given to us at a local person's price,
and the residents were dignified and respectful.  It's the poorer looking towns where
it seems the people work more harmoniously. the streets are colourful with fruit stands
and people of all sorts wheeling carts of eggs or dates or clementines.
  It was in Demnat tat I decided clementines were my favourite food, and they probably were
great at the time but I recomened you dont overdo them or else you develop an unhappy belly.
Or maybe it was the walnuts I ate with them.

Our little monkeys!

crash bang

the gang !!

i could have helped and shooed the monkey away as david ate the chocolate,
.......or i could take photos of it attacking him!


baby monkey!