(sunday) The indescribable cold – was very difficult to get up – but when I finally warmed up and the car engine had defrosted (or the water in the engine something about being on a slope….) we set off further up the gorge along Wily Coyote territory! I sat for a while watching the water flowing streadily along and realised that however much we try to dam the flow it’s impossible to stop; just like the passage of life. We took a stroll along took in the incredible scenery before heading slowly back along that dodgy road avoid bikes, donkey, kids and vans full of sheep. Back in Ourzazate we finally find a hotel and spend the evening in Chez Dimitri, the ‘world famous’ former hangout of the foreign legion. Where signed photos of celebritys (and David Hasselhoff) who have produced films in the area adorn the walls. Which brings me to (monday) where we stopped off to see if the Atlas Film Studios were open for visitors. As we navigated the car through hundreds of Moroccans at the gates, the gaze felt like it was me who was coming to shoot a film – malheuresement non We got a guided tour though of parts of the sets of great films such as Asterix and Obelix, Gladiator and Kundun. In the distance they were building the set for Ridley Scott’s forthcoming blockbuster Kindom of Heaven where they were building Jerusalem for completion in 6 months. Ridley was in the hotel next to us but I didnt spot him (Not really knowing what he looks like anyway). Our guide had met Cat Deeley and had a Blue Peter badge, lucky huh! We journey back over the now slightly snow-melted mountain peaks and back to Marrakesh where we left our driver. Checking back into the Jnane Modagor hotel, I finally found the heavily fortified American Bookshop to feed my book addiction and spent the evening on the main square. Oh yeah the square – its amazing. There are hundreds of food stalls. More later….
Ok this is more, got chucked off the machine earlier. There are fresh orange stalls with juice for about 8p a glass, then there are the hot cinammon tea stalls where you get a tea and some spicy cake for about 8p too, then there is the massive area for BBQed food and any other meat you can think off, then there are the snails! Yes…. snails, boiled alive. A bowl of snails in shells for 10p.. mmm.. you get a touchpick to pick them out with but they arent like the snails in France – i.e. cindered alive in Garlic. These are just in snail-tasting water. I ate about half of my portion, the thing that put me off was the slime that was sometimes still stuck to them and their little eyes and antennas that you could still see and some of them were huge! Oh and after the food there are loads of people watching musicians, fortune tellers, snake charmers and no holds barred boxing to digest the lovely taste of snails away.
(tuesday) A bit of a non starter today, reading and relaxing. After a lovely breakfast on the terrace of the hotel reading yesterday’s newspaper I eventually packed up and took the train up to Rabat (1st class but not really that special 6 to a little compartment) and the weather took a turn for the worst somewhere along the line. By the time I arrived (30 late) it was torrential, gusting rain along the street; umbrellas missing in action. Finally found a hotel with a shower that worked unfortunately it was on the junction of 2 main roads so the ear plugs where necessary although despite the earplugs the plumbing decided to kick into action at 3am and was very loud… grrr..