Where do I Begin with this one?
We had more adventure today than you could expect on an 18/30 holiday.
We booked a three hour Taxi trip with guide, through the Riad staff and agreed to visit a few Museums, a Madrassa, the Jewish Quarter and a Garden, ending up at a supermarket where we could stock up on wine and beer.
Our Driver met us at the Riad and escorted us through the alleys to his car, parked just outside the Old City Walls.
A shining new Hyundai van sat gleaming in the sunshine, his pride and joy.
We slipped into the back, buckled up ( a necessity here) and we were off.
At this point I should have read the signs.
Our ‘Drive’ was covered in small pieces of toilet roll to stop the bleeding from razor cuts to his neck and chin. Also, as we walked, he bumped into things. Nothing too obvious. A parked Scooter, a child and at one stage, perhaps more importantly, a wall.
Others more astute than I may have noticed he was spatially challenged or slightly blind, with the shaky hand of one who shouldn’t be allowed to shave himself. But I didn’t, so we trusted ourselves to him like Lambs to the slaughter.
We drove around the outside of the Old City on the modern roads of the Gueliz, (the new town) before diving deep into the bowels of the Medina where the Hyundai suddenly took on a new and much more imposing persona.
It seemed to swell in size as we navigated the narrow streets cluttered with scooters, bikes and donkey carts, and it wasn’t long before we challenged the laws of Physics by driving a Hyundai van through a space made for a Smart Car.
There was a nasty crunch as we hit a parked car with the side of the van. However,instead of limiting the damage by stopping, our driver decided in his wisdom, to floor the throttle and drag the whole side of the van into the mix which resulted in a rather abstract Origami image of a Hyundai Van.
We sped away from the scene only stopping when we got close to the Berber Museum where we inspected the damage to the sliding door, rear panel and bumper. Our driver looked a little peaky at this point and the sweat was pouring off him.
There is no where to park a damaged Hyundai van at the Berber Museum so he tried to negotiate some space with local merchants who clearly didn’t want a wrecked Hyundai van parked so close to their shops that customers couldn’t get in.
So we were told to wait whilst he went off to find a parking space. ( Even in this madness there are official parking places where one has to pay for the privilege of stopping).
Later we spotted him running through the crowds toward us like a man possessed, his clothing by now dark stained with sweat which was running off his head.
He apologised profusely whilst mopping his head with a handkerchief the size of a bed sheet before leading us onward to the Berger Museum where we paid 40 Dirham each to see three old Kimonos (Jaki insists on calling them Kaftans, so stupid) and a dozen sets of earrings the size of a small stealth bomber.
“20 minutes” our driver allocated us to tour this cultural gem, whilst he waited outside.
Despite our best efforts (we marvelled at the intricately carved and painted ceilings, gazed at the artefacts and went up on the roof) we couldn’t make this visit last more than 3 minutes. There was just nothing of substance to see and we wondered whether we’d missed something?
Returning to our driver, we were off again.
Mosque Ben Youssef was our next port of call where we were again allocated 20 minutes, this should have given us a clue.
We dutifully paid our money and wandered round trying to find some thing stimulating to look at. There was, it’s fair to say, some fantastic arches, some intricately decorated tiles and some cool spots where we sought shelter from the heat, but to kill 20 minutes was almost impossible.
So, with tails between our legs we returned to our driver, who scowled at us like we were naughty children.
As a punishment, he then took us to the Old and the New Museum of Marrakech, however by now we were street wise dudes and we simply went in, paid, then hid till it was time to come out again.
There were some paintings of questionable quality and some very impressive lamp shades, but you can get that at Marks and Spencer’s.
In reality, if you like history, you like old building and your into mosaic tiles, this could be for you but I’m not sure it has enough of interest once you’ve been to the V&A or the Tate Modern.
You wanna see tiles, go to Tiles R Us.
So back in the van we we broke the news that we wanted to renegotiate the agenda.
We’d skip the Jewish Quarter, maybe visit that another day and head straight for the Gardens as by now our 3 hours was nearly up.
We were assured it would take at least an hour to walk round Jardines Majorelle, so we paid 70 dh each, were given a map and a ticket and found ourselves back at the entrance gate within 10 minutes. This was no Stately Home Garden, no Zoological Garden on the scale of Brisbane. This was the size of a football pitch, with a path running around its perimeter and a few that criss crossed its middle. But there was just nothing to look at.
There weren’t any stunning blooms, no magnificent vistas. There were some impressive Cacti that at home would sit in a pot on the Kitchen window and here needed a dumper truck to move but it wasn’t enough to keep you enthralled. We chose to find a shady place to sit where we giggled at our predicament.
Too bored to stay, too scared to go. In the end, we decided to sneak out and head for the Cafe across the road where we’d drink mint tea till a decent amount of time had passed.
Unfortunately as we slipped out of the gate, we were spotted by Drive ( Bristolian for anyone who drives anything, bus, taxi or milk float) who summoned us to get back in the van.
Now here’s where the fun begins.
He’d parked close to a wall so was forced to slide open the newly damaged door.
(At this point I have to suspend my narrative as a Ferking great fly has just bitten a lump out of my leg, signing his death warrant with a rolled up map).
We clambered in and ‘Drive’ tried to shut the door which had clearly suffered some alignment damage in the earlier altercation. There then followed a rather embarrassing period of grunting and groaning, pushing and pulling, some kicking and yet more profuse sweating, as he tried to get the door to close. Eventually, by standing on the sliding mechanism with both feet and throwing his full body weight agains the door it gave way and slid with the speed of a guillotine blade, narrowly avoiding severing his head and one hand in the process.
With much apologising we were off to Acima the Supermarket.
Now the Supermarket has an underground car park which is at best difficult to enter. It’s narrow, very low, has a very tight left hand bend ( which we had to negotiate in three stages) and is in almost total darkness. However, we successfully found a space not quite big enough for the van, parked and went off to shop.
Once this task was completed we spent a while trying to turn the van around in the confined space of the under ground park.
With some relief we managed this without any further damage. Loaded up our provisions and climbed aboard, using the good side door.
Unfortunately as we drove up the slope toward day light, the van stalled. Apparently the clutch was slipping so badly that we couldn’t get enough power to the wheels to take us and our shopping up the slope. So silently we reversed back down the ramp, only stopping when Jaki screamed out in time to stop us hitting a concrete pillar that poor old Drive hadn’t seen.
A security guard was summoned who put a breeze block under the back wheel to stop us slipping further into the abyss, as there was no working hand brake.
At this point we abandoned ship (metaphorically speaking) and got out.
With the engine re-started, Jaki, me and the security guard pushing, we managed to nurse the battered and humiliated Hyundai van up the slope and into the sunshine.
Our Journey home was obviously very painful for ‘Old Drive’ who kept apologising, between wiping himself down with boxes of tissues kept in the cab for this purpose.
We, on the other hand had to question how we’d gotten ourselves into this in the first place?