Weeks if not months ago I said we had done a 2000 mile drive-athon through Morocco …and well yes we had and unless I hurry up and bore you all daft with it, we’ll have to do another in order for me to remember!! SO……
Tangiers has a new ferry port and Morocco has new motorways! Morocco is a chaotic place to arrive in at the best of times – either in Tangiers town where the original ferry port s or if you cross into the country from the border with Ceuta in Spain. This time it was a haven of peace and calm – embarking from the early morning ferry after crossing the Straits was so easy, quiet and hassle free, it made you wonder if you had landed at the right place! Brand new, huge, organised, calm – it is so big that at first tyou were very unsure of which way to go – this way, that way. 10 mins drive brought us to the actual border/customs/immigration – whatever. Normal ‘service’ will resume as soon as possible as the conditions for confusion are already beginning to sprout!
When we turned it, it was to become only one of about 5 vehicles and controlled, steady agitation was slowly creeping in – thank God we only had a normal sized car, because if you were Moroccan and were driving one of those vans or large cars that hurtle down the Spanish motorways (well, some don’t exactly hurtle down as they are so heavily loaded with literally everything apart from the kitchen sink) and covered with the plastic sheeting in whatever is this years colour, then you would be in for a LONG stay – as EVERYTHING has to come off, out and from under! Exactly how it used to be in the good old days of the old customs point and to a curious old bird like me..a brilliant sight to see …watching bikes come off the roof, grandma and kids from inside and the wife with the carrier bags from wherever she has been sitting, with some old sofa which has been tucked goodness knows where…it all has to come off! And after one, probably two and maybe three searches later….it ALL has to go back.
A quick salute from…who?( Is he a policeman or customs officer?) and you can either get straight onto a new motorway which will lead out from the Port gates or like us, a 20 mins drive over the hills to Fndique (which I can never spell right) – for an overnight stay in the IBIS Hotel …a chaoin of hotels which suits us fine especially since my accident…and good value if you check their offers. Fndique is a sea side town which gives you a fascinating view of the Med from the other side and just along from the Hotel there is an interesting ruin of a grand looking ‘colonial’ style building, a reminder of Spanish rule in Morocco. I like the frontage of this typical Moroccan town BUT I don’t like the backstreets of this typical Moroccan town!
You can get straight onto the new, very quiet, fast motorways, which take you to all the ‘Romantic’ souding cities…Fez (I like), Meknes (really interesting), Casablanca (hate, hate hate), Rabat the capital (nice and quiet), Marrakesh (loud, full on and has to be seen) and Agidir (which I don’t like)…then there is Essouaria which is my favourite!
This country never fails to interest and surprise me, it even haunts and tempts me when I am away. It is full on, loud, messy, never stops but I love it. You won’t find ‘Scheherazade’ here, hints of that fantasy world you ‘may’ find or feel especially in the Kasbahs, where your imagination can run riot and you will experience just what you want to experience, even of gossamer thin trousers and veils, bewitching eyes and come hither glances if you close your eyes and drift away. The 1001 nights are not really a reality BUT what you will find and it wraps around me every time is…….CHARM! And Moroccan men have it in ABUNDANCE! And it’s lovely…from rose petals on the saucer holding your drink, to red roses placed in your hand, …..and to blatant and gorgeous flirting at supermarket checkouts……straight into your eyes looks and then you hear this soft ‘Hello’!! I have found that getting older is brilliant, you can have all this coming your way and no sexual undercurrents like when one is you, so relax and flirt back. Since I fractured my hip, I use a stick when out in the street and I get teenage Moroccan girls come and hold my hand……..no, the men never touch (just in case you were wondering). It is a lovely, friendly country – if you let it be. As I said above, it is full on, noisy, communal, loud and fantastic.
But, Casablanca I hate!….there is no ‘Sing it again Sam’ here for me, just milllions of surging people, dirt and mess everywhere..I hate it, hate it, hate it!
However, I love Essouaria, an old fortressed town down on the |Atlantic, which has a lovely bay, harbour and fishing port where you could spend hours and hours, a Souk to get lost in. I could just stay there.
Agidir I am not keen on..it reminds me of…….well, some seaside place in the UK!!
In all, we drove 2000 miles in 11 days and could have stayed longer but I have a cat who I dearly miss when I am not with her.
I really must keep this blog more up to date as I forget where I am up to date…. the last time I said what I was reading it was ‘The Kite Runner’. Brilliant book, which I have re-read at least 3 times since. Many books have passed before my eyes since, far too many to list here, so to bring it right up to date the book I am reading at the moment is ‘Extra Virgin’….amongst the olive groves of Liguria, Italy by Annie Hawes and I am taking with me to Turkey in a couple of days Pete McCarthy’s book ‘McCarthy’s Bar’ ….this will be a re-read but it is so funny, you find yourself laughing out load at his chapter on Tangiers. Also coming with me will be ‘The Adultress’ by Noelle Harrison.
The other week I read Victoria Hislop’s latest ‘The Thread’, which I enjoyed but it is not as good as her first two books..’.The Island’ and ‘ The Return’.
I have books everywhere in the house, far too many but I am completely lost without them and have to have sometimes 3 on the go at the same time with books in each room to pick up and put down at random. The next ones I have sort out are ‘A Castle in Spain’ by Matthew Parrish, ‘Desperate Glory’ by Sam Kiley (SKY News Security Editor), ‘Fall of Giants’ by Ken Follett (a heavy book as in weight!) and ‘Homage to Andalus’ by Michael Barry.
Thoughts, words, bit and pieces that cross this mind of mine while I am pottering……..
- a few words from the song ‘Pretty things’ by Take That i.e. Does she tell you what she wants, can you give her what she needs?
- the voice of Chris Rhea singing ‘go looking for the sun’ and his haunting guitar strumming.
- the eyes of Damian Lewis in ‘Homeland’
- and the voice of Franscisco de Mosto. He could take my foot off without anesthetic!! Or even better he could entice me into his speed boat and whisk me off at speed across the Venetian Lagoon!
- the urge to dance with Blondie to her singing ‘Call me’
- the need to weep when the love song from Titanic is sung.
- yearnings for Israel….not their politics.
- my dreams to go into the Gaza Strip……been close but not close enough.
often happen or are seen…..
like, have you ever seen a ferret having a bath? Or, on a lead going for its morning walk? Or a rabbit enjoying its lunch while sitting ON a cafe table?
Passing by a neighbours house one morning, their teenage daughter was testing the water in a baby’s bath, towel at the ready – to bath her ferret! Tenderly lowered her pet into the water, bit of shampoo, gentling rubbing and rinsing….it loved it…wrapped him up in a soft towel and patted dry. No problem…quite normal goings on I suppose!
And the ferret out for its morning walk? Well, this was along the promenade in Malaga. Car pulled up, young woman got out, put a lead on what I thought was a small dog or even a cat – no, it was a ferret quite at home and at ease. She sat down on the grass, put some bits of whatever down, ferret ate and enjoyed them and off they went for their morning walk. Years ago, when my son was in his teens, I had one of his mates in love with me and one Saturday morning a knock came on the back door and there he stood with a silly look on his face. He has come to show me, he said, his very best and favourite possession and out of his pockets came………his father’s ferrets!
And the lunching rabbit? Well it was here in the village, in the main square. There I was having a coffee and on turning round, there was the rabbit sitting on the next table enjoying his lunch of salad, completely at ease in the sunshine and basking in all the attention.
One sight I wanted to see was the goats in the branches of the Argan trees in the Essouria district of Morocco. These trees are Morocco’s answer to the Spanish Olive Tree and apparently goats love them. Argan oil is VERY expensive but lovely – it is ground down from thre nuts of the Argan tree by Berber women working for Co-opertatives. Lovely on salads,it has a peanutty taste and it is equally lovely when turned into body creams and if they put orange blossom into it, it is so nice as a massage oil.
A ‘magical’ sight…as least I think so, is the traffic on the Malaga motorways early in a morning. At least three or maybe four, lanes of traffic, all going foreward, leaving and joining , sliding lane to lane, silently like ballet dancers – it is a silent, smooth and graceful ballet being played out in front of you, changing ‘steps and partners’ as we all move forward. My other half thinks I am mad – something he often thinks! But to me it is a very graceful start to the morning – the pace and dramatics change though as the day progresses!!.
Most of the time, I write all these ramblings while sitting on the terrace with shades on, earphohnes plugged into an iPod – a right funny sight it must be ’cause I dance as well..totally unaware of who might be watching!
I’ve downloaded loads of stuff lately. I like the music behind TV adverts which I look up what they are on YOUTUBE and then download from iTunes. Right mix of stuff goes through my ears…at the min I am listening to ‘Harry’s Bar’ by Gordon Haskell (lovely gentle voice). Ludovici Einoudi is a favourite, he of much music behind loads of TV adverts (went to his solo concert in Malaga the other month – total silence then eruptions of clapping. I have re-discovered Chris Rhea from years ago so he is there as well plus tracks like ‘Home’ by Simply Red…’View to a Kill’ by Duran Duran…’Shame’ by Take That…the theme music to the TV drama ‘The Promise’…oldies like ‘Horse with no name’ and ‘America’…………there is plenty of space left to fill!! Oh, yes and also ‘You’re going to make me lonesome when you go’ by Madelaine Payroux plus her version of ‘Dancing to the end of love’
I don’t know the ages of my ‘fan base’ but I am well past the first flush of youth…thank goodness!…and I grumble about everything even with the TV in the mornings…rather, in a way, like Janet Street Porter who I quite admire. Abd these days there are many things to grumble about….like
- abbreviations. Hate them. Why call for example the Doctor ‘Doc’? Do you call the Dentist ‘Den’? I make people tell me what they mean. Then there are all those initials used instead of the words…drive me MAD. I took part years ago on a course where ALL abb reviations were BANNED!
- Newsreaders and so called ‘celebraties’ who read the news and discuss the papers…Why all the stuttering and stammering and blustering as if they don’t know what they are on about and then all the repeating that goes on and then they go on thanking everyone for doing what they are paid to do. I like the ones that get on with it, for example Michelle Dewberry, John Nicholls, James Whale, Michael Portillo, Sam Delaney. They ‘cut to the chase’ and don’t faf about. Ann Diamond is an intelligent woman and can be good BUT she never stops talking, over and through everybody else.
- why do people say about us that ‘it is alright for some’? When it is found out that we may be off tripping again. Why? What is so specialy about us? Our trips are funded by using loyalty points from one of the big supermarkets. Why is it always assumed that we are rolling in money?
- people who continually complain about the weather. What can they do about it? Nothing. So why waste breath and time by complaining.
- Why do my grandsons have a need to put totally inappropriate information, well to me at any rate, up on FaceBook?
………I can assure you that there is plenty more!!!
Once more my thoughts have returned to Morocco……..keys. You come off the motorway and down into Essouria, over the roundabout and there they are… groups and rows….and sometimes on their own…….Moroccan boys. And they are all waving keys!
Hello, you say to yourself, what’s going on here? What delights or otherwise are on offer? Is it the equivalent of some sort of Turkish Delight (ay up, I am in Istanbul in 10 days!!)?…they are not only just off the roundabout but if you turn right and head along the sea front they are all there as well…laughingly at the edge of the pavement all offering keys to rooms, apartments. They are all so happy and friendly you feel quite disappointed to have prebooked IBIS hotels!
I love Malaga….not the new part, not the airport (though the new one is fantastic), not the western side heading towards Torremolinos. The part I am talking about is the old city, the eastern side, the part where the old bars are, the part with the atmosphere. I love it, love it, love it.
Being a photographer (aka Alex Berry) it is a magical place for me, with the old streets, the run down areas, the parts hidden away, the crumbling buldings. Where your imagination can run wild and where you can sit and dream. I love it! Many are the times I have caught the bus from the village of Torrox where I have lived since 1992. Arriving at 9.30am in the morning, the whole day spreads itself in front of me. Complete with camera and sandwiches, money in my pocket I have hours in which to just indulge myself in this lovely city.
Anyway, imagine my finding something, a booklet, which has added more to my enjoyment of this lovely place. The booklet ‘Footsteps through the city of Malaga’ is just the icing on the cake. It is a handy size for pocket, handbag or backpack. It is centred essentially around the old part of the city, starting by the lighthouse and close to the castleand takes you on a walk through the most delightful prts of Malaga, while at the same time bringing together many of the city’s historical, religious andinteresting places……
…..andwhen you need to sit and rest for five, then the booklet presents you with the unusual and sometimes unknown bits of information of the city -tales of shipwrecks, spies and conspirices, burials on the beach, floods and German bridges.
The booklet allowsthe walk to take as long asyou want it to…do it in a morning OR let it take a whole day OR days OR over a period of time…tuck “Footsteps through the city of Malaga’ into your pocet, bag or wherever and take it out again when the mood takes you. And, as the booklet says “just follow the footsteps” and let your journey begin.
And now for the SELL!! The booklet is available from many outlets but why not buy from me? And why from me? Well, as they say..I know the author. In fact had a long coffee break with him only the other day, talking of many things, including his next guide.
PRICE and details…..5 euros plus post and packing. My details? email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 003461711115.