This entry is just a quick overview of the rest of our trip in Morocco. I know it's taken me a while to get round to doing this but I feel like I need to still post and give the whole trip a nice conclusion.
Bright and early on the Friday morning we set off south towards the Sahara desert. This day was spent pretty much solely on the bus. We had a great group of people which made the journey so much more enjoyabe. Halfway there, we were joined by a Moroccan mother and child, and the 5-year-old girl spent the whole time trying to teach us Moroccan and improve her English. She definitely put us to shame with the amount of languages she could already speak!
Once we got to the Sahara we were led straight to the camels and had a nice ride across the desert at sunset. Some of the guys seemed to have a bit of trouble with the seating arrangements, but it was a nice way to travel. I thought that it was definitely calmer than riding an elephant. When we got to the camp we found some brilliant tents set up for us. I can't really call them tents, they were pretty much houses made of tent material, they were massive and the beds were actually comfier than what we were experiencing back at our hostel! I kind of doubt if we were actually in the Sahara, I imagined it to be deserted and for us to be in the middle of nowhere but you could see the lights from a nearby town which was a little disappointing. We were treated to a 3-course meal (soup, tagine and oranges for dessert) followed by some 'traditional music' around the campfire. The music left something to be desired- it was basically a man using a plastic box as a drum and four of his mates shouting along. Zoe ended up dancing with one of the Moroccans, she claims to not have enjoyed it, but the pictures say otherwise. Once the fire had gone out, we retired to our luxury tents and got some sleep before yet another early start.
Day two in the desert began with a quick bit of breakfast (oranges) and then another camel trip back to the minibus. From here it was the long journey back to Marrakesh, whilst it was a good and enjoyable trip, I'm not sure if it was worth a 14 hour return drive! We were in a new hostel that night as the other one had been ripping us off and this one turned out to be nicer too. The evening was spent wandering the night markets of Marrakesh, there is so much there, it's all a bit same-y but a lot of fun.
On Sunday we had a trip to Essaouira, the nearest beach town to Marrakesh. Once again, it was quite a journey, but nothing on the previous days. John was supposed to come along but he was ill so it was just us three and Charlotte. This turned out to be one of my favourite excursions, and would have liked to spend more time there. It was so relaxed, we wandered around the markets and it was so laid back, nothing like the manic markets of Marrakesh. Zoe and I both bought some carpet like jackets, also know as 'gilabas', at a bargain price, pretty much making the excursion worthwhile in terms of what we would have paid for them in the city. We treated ourselves to some fancy ice cream and set ourselves down on the beach. Zoe was very keen to work on her tan but as Morocco is a Muslim country, people on the beach were quite reserved, although at the same time we had people constantly asking us if we wanted to buy 'hash cookies'... Soon enough our day was over and we had to get back on the bus to Marrakesh.
Claire, an Australian girl we met had had a kerfuffle with buying carpets earlier in the day and made a Moroccan friend who was keen to take us out for dinner. We obliged and ended up eating in a 'Moroccan fast food restaurant'. It was like salad with chips and sauce, a bit odd but nice and VERY cheap, the cost of living out here for the locals is next to nothing. This was Jon's last night with us as he was flying home a day early, so we began saying our goodbye's before turning in for the night.
Monday was our last day on holiday. This was also the only day in the two weeks that we didn't travel! We said goodbye to Jon and then us girls all went to a hammam. A hammam is like a public bath and the locals really go for it. I read that some people treat it as a bath as they can't afford hot water in their homes so it's more of a regular occurance than a luxury or tourist attraction, which was how we were seeing it. We somehow got scammed out of more money than we were expecting to pay (in fairness, we had a woman looking after our bags- I don't think that should have cost a few quid though) and made our way into the hammam. Upon entry we were told that our bikini tops were not allowed, the language barrier wasn't an issue here as the woman began tugging at my top and pointed to all the other naked women. It's amazing how close you get to people you've just met when you're travelling. We stripped down (note- not completely naked, thankfully) and sat awaiting further instructions from the woman who seemed to be in charge of our hammam experience. We all got scrubbed by her, then had a massage of sorts and our hair washed. We were extremely clean after all that and can say that it was definitely an experience. Maybe not one that I'd repeat again, but an experience nonetheless.
We had a final wander around the markets, spent the rest of our money on Moroccan tack and teapots and had some fun haggling. John and Charlotte changed their flight at the last minute and decided to fly home that night, so we said a quick goodbye to them and then Zoe, Claire and I did a cooking course with our hostel owner's mum. It wasn't so much of a course as a 'cut some vegetables up and watch what I do'. We got to eat the end result, so I'm not complaining, plus it looks fairly simple to make a tagine and Moroccan style cous-cous, but don't ask me to show you how to do it!
So that was Morocco, we had an early flight on Tuesday morning, got into a little argument with the taxi driver over 50p, stopped off at duty free and boarded our flight. Back to England (then Wales), back to normality and thrust straight back into the last couple of weeks of lectures.