Uncharming Sneks and Food Poisoning: Marrakech, Morocco

I was convinced that Agadir, Morocco was going to be the most boring place on earth.

But then I discovered that Essaouira was used as a filming location in Game of Thrones.

I got silly excited. I planned some bus time tables and figured it should only cost us 70 quid each to escape Agadir and the ‘rents for two days and a night. We ended up on a two day excursion that included Essaouira and Marrakech plus a hotel, breakfast and a guide for just £56 each.

I busied myself the night before, packing the essentials. Camera. Sun cream. Change of clothes. Only to remember that when I got to Marrakech it was the middle of Ramadan, nowhere was open until 8PM and I had 3 hours to kill beside the pool… without my bikini. Mum even told me to pack a bikini, and boy did I regret it when I didn’t listen.

What I did pack proved to be incredibly useful. Face wipes – for wiping my hands after stroking scabby donkeys. A packet of tissues – to use in the various toilet pit stops on the coastal road. Insect repellent – for when Mike and I sat on an ant hill at Bahia Palace.

In fact, the insect repellent could have been the reason behind the erratic behaviour of not-so-charmed snakes. This brings me to the Uncharming Snek Incident. I thought I would be brave and get close to take a picture of a cobra. Our guide offered me a smaller, less poisonous snake to hold and I did it. I was feeling fearless. The guide told me to put it around my neck. “Not dangerous,” he says, “no poison.” I giggle along and wrap the snake around my most vulnerable artery and BAM… snake attacks my face.

No matter how much I tried to calmly push the snake away from my face it evaded my palm and struck again and again, narrowly missing my eyes. I had had enough. I pulled the uncharmed snake off of my neck and tried to give it back to our crippled guide. Everyone was laughing at me. Mike was taking pictures as I began to fear for my life. “Not dangerous,” he says again, “no poison. Haha.” Jolly bastard.

I gently handed the snake back to the charmer and silently congratulated myself on not completely losing the plot whilst under attack. I paid the charmer 20DH for the pleasure of pooing my pants and I vow never to pick up a snake again.

So what could possibly top my uncharming snek incident?

Well, after eating a wonderful, budget, enlightening and entertaining meal on the streets of Marrakech… GUESS WHAT?! No, I did not get ill. In fact, I was poisoned by the overpriced, obnoxious restaurant that our guide took us to the next day.

What makes it worse is I knew we were being scammed long before it materialised. As soon as our guide started spouting information about “nice restaurant, all local customers,” I KNEW we were being taken somewhere that he would get commission out of, we would be unsatisfied and we would be overcharged. Down winding alleys we went, into the labrinth that is the skirts of Jamaa El Fna. You couldn’t find your way out if you’d left yourself a trail of breadcrumbs… the homeless will have seized those before your back was turned.

The waiter took it upon himself to order us and the couple we were with a feast for 250DH per person NOT including drinks (or tips, apparently). Service was mediocre, cold salady starters were nice, main beef tagine was beyond salty and chicken and date(?) tagine was a little too sweet for my liking. I finished off with some melon. After being promised cake and not receiving any (I wouldn’t have been so bothered but it was the principle of not getting what I was paying for) I had had enough… again.

I wanted to pay and leave. I wanted to get in a pool, wash off the dregs and donkey urine of Marrakech streets and focus on the bits I loved. But the waiter was rude enough to insist upon a 10% tip. It was trivial. It was about £2 he wanted. But Mike and I were down to our last 100DH, and that was for our crippled guide. He had been entertaining… I guess. So I got very upset and in true British style, told the man he was rude and did not deserve the tip and that he had deeply offended me… and then paid the tip.

I went back to Agadir with a sour taste in my mouth (in two ways). The journey back was littered with beautiful scenes which heightened my mood. Until the next day…  

…when it came crashing down at 5AM.

Both Mike and I were doubled in pain from stomach cramps. We took it in turns to each spend twenty minutes on the toilet. By 7AM I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to decanter water into our bottle from the dispensers in the restaurant and to fetch Immodium from Mother Hen. This continued for 3 or 4 days, tainting our last week of Morocco. We never fully recovered until a week after we landed back in England.

If that wasn’t a test to a new relationship, I can’t tell you what is. I also realised our most expensive meal was the most disappointing and that we actually paid a tip to be given the squits. Charming.

Despite these little issues we’ve already promised to each other that we’ll visit again in the future and see a bit more that Morocco has to offer!

STATS (For 2 people)

Distance Traveled: 435.2 miles/700.5km

Days/Nights: 2/1

Travel Expenses: £112

Accommodation: £0 (included with travel)

Food Expenses: £79

Activities: £10

Extras: £12 (tips)

Total: £213

Wow… we thought it was cheap at the time :/
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