We arrived in Marrakech an hour ahead of schedule at 5am. It was still dark and we didn't want to try and navigate our way through the city until the sun had risen. We went and sat in the bus station, analysing the Lonely Planet so that we'd be able to walk to the main square 'Djmaal el Fna'. However, after walking a bit, asking for directions a few times and walking back on ourselves, we decided to get into a taxi. This was the first of many times that we would be ripped off.
The square was empty; completely different from the descriptions I'd read. We saw some stalls being set up and had a little wander before deciding that we would never find one of the recommended Hitch hostels on our own. We called the number provided by Hitch for some hostel bookers and 5 minutes later we were being led through the alleys of Marrakech to a hostel.
The recommended hostels all varied in price and we had no idea which one we were in. However, we saw some people in Hitch t-shirts when we arrived so knew that we were at least in the right place. To start with, we were offered tea and breakfast but only went for the mint tea as we we're unsure if we were going to stay. Although, upon discovering the price, we decided that it was affordable and took up the offer of food. It was only 7.30 and we got talking to some people who we're doing an excursion at 9. Seeing as we were already up, we decided to join them and signed up for the trip to the Ourika Valley. After our better quality breakfast than in Spain, we sorted ourselves out and got settled into a room.
Jon and I needed to get money out and the main square was only a few minutes from the hostel so we nipped out with half an hour to spare until the bus left. My sense of direction isn't the best and neither is Jon's, consequently, disaster struck. To begin with, we made a wrong turn to get to the square and after walking for what we felt to be too long, asked some tourists who told us to go back on ourselves. We eventually got to the square where I was able to get cash but there were no exchange places open for Jon. It was 8.50, so we decided to head back so that we wouldn't miss the bus. We got lost. Very lost. At 9 o'clock I started to panic. Neither of us had our phones or anything with the address of the hostel, we weren't even sure of the hostel's name! I started asking people on the street where the hostel Marrakech Rose was, and some pointed in a direction, which we followed but to no avail. Then a lovely Moroccan guy who spoke really good English started to help us. Although his continuous 'this is bad, man' and 'you don't even know the name?!' wasn't exactly reassuring. We must have walked up and down this little street and down every single alleyway 10 times inthe next hour but still had no luck. It got to a point where I couldn't remember any details of the hostel, and Jon wasn't any better. He was convinced we were staying at Marrakech Rouge, so we were on the lookout for two different hostels, and had no idea which streets we recognised. Eventually, when I had conceded that we would have missed our trip and the best we could hope for was to actually re-find the hostel, we found it. The lovely guy had left us with his mate and some other guy who knew the city and who, after showing us to the door demanded money but we didn't give him much.
It was now 10.15 and we had indeed missed the bus. Apparently they had waited until 10 but couldn't hold on any longer; it was nice of them to actually wait that long! The guys at the hostel said that we could do the trip the next day, so it wasn't too bad. Zoe had been waiting for us with another Hitch group, Charlotte and John, who we then spent the day with. I was pretty stressed out but after sitting up on the terrace with mint tea, it all seemed a bit better. The hostel had four pet tortoises named Nigel, Lara, Colin and something else... We raced them, but it didn't turn out too well and then headed out to explore the rest of Marrakech.
We wandered around all the market stalls and did a bit of haggling, although as it was only day one in Morocco, we weren't too sure of prices and ended up getting royally ripped off. We all spent a bit too much money (although it was all a bargain if you converted it into pounds) and bought a lot of stuff that we didn't need. The rest of the day was spent doing some more wandering and purchasing and meeting other hitchers.
Back at the hostel, they we're doing a 'Hitch Party' for dinner. I was quite excited about this and being able to meet other hitchers but it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. The food was good and cheap but it wasn't an exclusive Hitch event, so lots of the people weren't hitchers but that didn't matter too much as it was a sit down meal and you could only talk to the people around you. We had a traditional Moroccan salad, followed by tagine and then strawberries for dessert, a menu which we would get to know quite well. We spent the rest of the night sharing travelling stories and playing games, although no alcohol was involved, just mint tea.