Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hendrix Vs The Wah

Greetings from Essaouira

It has been a busy few days since last i blogged.

We travelled north to Tangiers via local bus and spent a few days in the old International City of the world. Before 1956 if you were a bad boy or girl in your home country and had the money to flee the establishment it is likely you would have made your way to Tangiers to continue partaking in the naughty lifestyle you loved so much... be it sex, drugs, antiestablishment writings or a heady combination of all three. Many writers, criminals, musicians, tax evaders and so flocked to Tangiers over the decades from all over the world. This has created a city with Arabic, Berbere, Portuguese, Spanish and english influences. Wacky architecture ahoy! Arabic and French are still the main languages but they many people still speak Spanish as Spain is very visible across the Mediterreanean. You can say thankyou in 5 different languages and still be understood! All the crazy lawbreaking came to an abrupt halt in 1956 when Morocco gained its independence and kicked out the world's riff-raff. This made Tangiers are safer, quieter place but i am assured it also lost something else as well. The new King Mohammed VI (in power since 1999) has tried to spruce Tangiers up a little and has had the old seaside shanty town along the main beach bulldozed. This has led to a seaside walking/shopping strip which is eeriely reminiscent of the Gold Coast! It is a pretty place to walk even if it doesnt have a very 'moroccon' feel to it.

Fun Facts With Dr Wah! - Mandarins used to be (and still are) grown buy the metric truckload in Tangiers and shipped into Spain. This led to Mandarins to be called Tangerines...

We took an overnight train from Tangiers back to Marrakech but we didnt stay. We hired a Grande Taxi and drove the 1 1/2 hours out to Imlil with our daredevil drivers. The drive itslef was an experience as you rocket along at 90km on tiny mountainous roads with trucks coming the other direction... and there are no seatbelts.

Imlil is a wee town in the High Atlas mountains famous for... well nada. But it is a great place to sit back and relax and enjoy the majestic views of Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in Morocco and in north africa. It is also a great place to go hiking... and hike I did! Our guide took us up a mountain pass early one morning. It was a good blood-pumping walk and we all reached the top of the pass in about 1 1/2 hours. To get back we had to walk the way we came ooooooooor, as suggested by the guide, walk a different way riiiiiight round the mountain. Of the original 10 who went up the pass 4 of the hardier males (yes yes, including me) went with the guide. wow.... it was some hike! It took about 4 hours at a blistering (and i mean that literally!)pace down the mountain, through some beautiful valley villages (where one nice man gave us mint tea and bread), across the river (stones bridges with holes in them are scary), and back up up up uuuuuuuuup the next mountain. Let me assure you, gentle reader, that the ascent was a total bastard. It was a tiny track at a serious inclination and if you made a mistake it would be a long time to wait for the rain to wash you off the rocks so far below. Every time you thought you had made it to the summit you would see the track stretch off ahead of you up the next bit of the mountain! This happened 4 times! Finally we made it to the top and had the knee jarring experience of half jogging down the rocky switchbacks of the downwards journey. Finally we made it to the bottom where we had a rest in the village once frequented by Hilary Clinton ( i have no idea why she was there) and had the frustrating experience of not being able to cross the river! I managed to frog leap across rocks to get to the other side... huzzah for all those wasted hours playing Frogger! We had a 2-3km walk back up the road to Imlil but a man with a ute kindly let us hitchhike. We entered the town like kings, waving at the populace and basically acting like a bunch of men who have conquered a big nasty mountain. It is nice to know that in Morocco there is a mountain that will be forever my bitch!

The next day my legs were like jelly and my knees really ached... but still... i bitch-slapped that mountain!

We have taken a local bus to the old port town of Essaouira. This used to be a very important port before Cassablanca was built. The romans used to make purple dye here and Jimi Hendrix wrote 'Purple Haze' and 'Castles in the Sand' here. There is a half destroyed portuguese castle sitting in the ocean just off the main beach and every second local man sidles up to you and wants to sell you Hashish... no prizes to see how Hendrix came up with his songs ;)

We are here for a few days before we head back to Marakech and then back to Tangiers so we can get into Spain...

But that is the future and as our guide says 'Your time here isn't over yet!'


Anonymous said...

'Fun Facts With Dr Wah! - Mandarins used to be (and still are) grown buy the metric truckload in Tangiers and shipped into Spain...'

G - either u or i (probably me) have greatly misunderstood something, cos i was certain Mandarins were group of people who spoke a certain type of chinese or spanish or something?!... (i KNEW cloning was upon us - they'll be cloning squids next!!...) :-o

and i like that bit about a mountain becoming ur bitch - unfortunately it reminds me of a terrible experience of a bitch who was like a mountain (needless to say, taking 2 hours to get to the top and saying "ooh, i can see my house from up here" is NOT a wise move!!)...

keep treckin dude!!...


Anonymous said...

As salaam alaikum Greg-Wah.

If we really are space-time beings, your time there will never be over....

I have a purply story...kinda innoccous and more charming than Jim's haze though.