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Life in Marrakesh

Yesterday we caught a bus from Marrakesh out to a small village near the foot of the Atlas Mountains. There, after a bit of haggling and some cups of mint tea, we managed to negotiate with a taxi driver to take us out to a village close to some waterfalls in the mountains. Moroccans tend to use the entire road when they're driving and being on the right-hand side really does seem to be optional, but eventually, after some fairly hairy driving up a mountain valley, we arrived. There, we had some chicken and vegetables to eat and watched a cow and some sheep standing in the stream next to the outdoor restaurant. Only later did we notice the cook washing the raw chicken downstream from the cattle.

From there we walked quite far up the mountains and past the waterfalls until the sun began to go down. The air felt thin as you breathed it in, and we reckoned we were about 2000m above sea level. The countryside was incredibly beautiful, and felt a little bit like how I expect Nepal looks. There seems to be a lot of great trekking in the Atlas and it would be fantastic to come back with more time and some decent maps. By the time we got back down to the village, all the taxis had left, but we managed to all bundle into an old Transit van for the trip back.

Most of our time here in Marrakesh has been spent drinking coffee (nous-nous, which is half espresso and half milk), eating cake (the French thankfully brought wonderful cake culture with them to Morocco), drinking mint tea, freshly sqeezed orange juice (only the equivalent of 20 euro cents a glass), and eating. With alcohol only being available in the bigger hotels here it's been refreshing to realise that you can go out and enjoy yourself at night without it. The patisseries here are packed on Friday nights with everyone eating cake and drinking fresh mango juice, though I suspect if I spent a long time here I could easily double in body weight.

Urban, Julia, and Barbara, my new Austrian friends and roommates, left for the coast today and tonight I catch the overnight train back up to Tangiers. It's been really enjoyable travelling with the three of them, as, apart from Urban being fluent in French, and knowing some Arabic, they're really cool, relaxed people who don't get stressed about things. Hopefully I'll get a chance to travel with them again some other time as it's always a bit sad to say goodbye.

As I have to be in Stansted airport on Thursday night to meet Carita, whom I haven't seen for far too long, I have to begin heading north, away from the lovely sun and warm light of central Morocco. So in a couple of hours I catch the overnight train back up to Tangiers. I wish I could spend longer in Morocco, but I have to spend three nights sleeping on trains this week to get to Bilbao, from where I catch my flight to London so I have to leave soon.

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