Marrakech, Morocco

This next post is in a somewhat different style to how I usually write. I actually built this based on a piece of creative writing I wrote for my A Level English language coursework. It is actually true, it is a personal experience of mine, just in another style.

I wasn’t expecting such beauty in the markets at night.

During the day the D’jeema el Fna was empty and unimpressive with only a few permanent stalls dotted around. How could something so unremarkable be transformed into a beautiful, cultured and vibrant market (as all the travel brochures try to sell to me) just by the fall of darkness? I have to say I was a bit sceptical. But at night the change in Marrakech was stunning. It was hard to imagine this was the same place I had been stood in only this morning. The square had been transformed into this busy, bright, vibrant open-air restaurant and market.

Along one side of the L-shaped square were the traditional North African markets or the “souks.” Lining another side, the café terraces where you could escape the noise and confusion of the main square attracted sweltering sightseers. Next to them the hotels and gardens were full of rich tourists that had come to visit. Narrow streets full of stalls were leading off of the square and into the alleys of the medina quarter or “The Old City”. In the centre was this busy, bustling, al fresco restaurant full of unusual and exotic smells.

As soon as I stepped into the night food market I was surrounded. Everywhere I looked colourful and interesting food was being thrust in my direction; every restaurateur was trying to drag me in.

“Come taste my couscous”

“Have you ever tried Harira? You’ve come to the right place my friend!”

“Only the finest lamb here.”

I struggled forward; trying to get past the hundreds of bodies crowded together, breathing in the intense abundance of gastronomic flavours. I took a bite of Tajine- a slow cooked stew, full of tender, moist meat and aromatic vegetables, completed with a mixture of spices and herbs. This specific cook used “Ras el hanout,” a secret combination of spices individual to the chief. I could taste cinnamon, paprika, coriander and something else, something sharp that I couldn’t quite place.

Marrakech is well known for its market and in particular its labyrinth of souks- otherwise known as “bazaars.” I squeezed myself through the tightly packed crowds, looking around in awe at the variety and culture. There were more food stalls, Henna tattooists, apothecaries selling unusual cures and herbs, acrobats, jewellery stalls, snake charmers, stalls jam-packed with handmade ornaments and rugs and “zellige”– a mosaic terracotta tile work and traditional Moroccan architecture. I picked up a “magic box,” feeling its smooth wooden sides cool against my hot skin as I attempted to open it and failed. I watched in wonder as the maker unlocked it quickly, easily, through years of practice and of marvelling tourists like me with these simple tricks.

My nose was full of the scents of exotic food, spices and the strong aroma of sandalwood and musk incense burning from their wicks. I could hear the British tourists trying to haggle with the experienced Moroccan salesmen and the beautiful sound of the African music played by men sat on rugs with all their instruments and drums. As I walked past a group of foreign boys selling fake designer watches they yelled “Fish and Chips!” at me. Glad to know the English have a reputation for something notable. Everywhere I turned I could hear African men trying to sell things. And buy things… I overheard one young, startled English boy being offered five camels for his pretty, blonde girlfriend.

An achievement I was particularly proud of was my haggling over a small, wooden camel I planned to buy as a gift. 300 dirhams was the original price. “20 dirhams,” I said, well aware I was pushing my luck. Naturally, the young man told me to where stick it but as I went to leave he chased after me shouting, “70, 70! Final offer.” I beat him down a bit until we settled for an agreement of 50 dirhams. I was even more satisfied when I found out that the equivalent was just four British pounds for the sale. But as I moved off, I glanced back at the young man, at his thin, tired face, ecstatic at what I thought of as such a small amount of money. It seemed incredible to me that four pounds could make such a difference and, as I looked back, I wondered whether I should have given him more as he seemed to need it much more than I do.

I leave the busy souks, pleased with my haggling and weighed down with the gifts I have brought as I make my way back to my 5 star hotel- “5 star”- it wouldn’t even have one star in the UK. Yet, set apart from the hustle and bustle of the main market of Marrakech, a young boy kneels, barefoot and dirty, drinking water from a contaminated hose, stroking his flea bitten dog, desperate to quench his thirst before he goes back to the one roomed mud hut he calls home.

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Attack by spider

Today has not been a good day. And it’s not even lunchtime yet. On the plus side, I do manage to provide amusement to my mum :/

I was attacked by a giant spider.

Well, OK, not GIANT. Quite large. Medium. Alright, it was a money spider! But I still hate them.

See, here’s what I happened. I had just come downstairs from a nice, cold shower, just in my towel and being the vain person that I am, I thought I’d check myself out in the mirror. Nothing seemed out of ordinary and I stood there, doing the usual girly, “Oh God, why don’t I look like Angelina Jolie?” Especially today as my sunburn is starting to get to that lovely peely stage. VERY ATTRACTIVE. But then I felt something… something itchy on my neck. I looked down… And there it was. Crawling up onto my chin.

The spider.

I’m not normally a big screamer but in this case, it was necessary. Squealing like a little girl I smacked myself in the face to try and get it off me. This was a bad move as too much activity in a towel usually causes it to come off. Luckily, I caught it before my mum and brother came running into the hallway to see what was going on.

“What’s happened?”

“There was a spider on my face and I nearly dropped my towel!”

“A spider on your face? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Now, I’m not sure why my mum found this so funny, she’s even more terrified of them than me! I suppose she likes my suffering. The worst part however, was that I couldn’t see where the spider had gone. Now this scares me more than knowing where they are. I get paranoid that they have run off to lay eggs and make hundreds and hundreds of new baby spiders that will come and take revenge on me when I sleep.

Not having much choice, I went into my bedroom to get dressed. I look down. Da fuck!? The spider is still on me, this time dangling off my hand!!! :O I palm strike my door frame, aiming to squish it and when I look down, sure enough, the spider is gone, but there is NO expected mark of squished spider on either me or the door frame. So I’m back to where I started. I don’t think I can go to sleep tonight. I have now tried to kill the spider twice.

It will be after revenge.

Man’s Best Friend

Naww Harry, my poor, stupid dog. He had to have two tumours taken off of his legs and because he keeps licking his stitches he has to wear a lovely pair of my dads socks.

Harry is a Golden Retriever, but the worst one you possibly could have. Personally, I don’t think he’s a real dog. For starters, he can’t swim. We took him to the lakes once and as soon as he got far enough into the water that his feet couldn’t touch the bottom he panicked and half drowning/ half swimming he struggled out and refused to go back in. He also can’t retrieve- you throw a ball and he either can’t see it and stands there, dumbly looking around, or he catches it and then runs off to hide under the trampoline where he knows you can’t get to him. His sense of smell is shocking. You play the game of ‘which hand is the treat in’ and nine times out of ten he will get it wrong. He is also bullied by our cat, who, for the record is tiny. She steals his dog food, literally pushes him out of the way, so she can eat it. She beats him up so he can’t walk past her and when you come down in the morning it will be her in his dog bed, taking up a tiny little space whilst he has been banished to the floor. She’s more of a dog than he is.

He is the cutest albeit stupidest dog though. He still thinks he is a puppy and will come and sit on your lap. When he was little this was fine. He could curl up on your lap and fall asleep. But now he’s five years old and fully grown, he can only fit half a butt cheek onto your lap- that doesn’t stop him though. He’s also the best company when you ever need to let off steam. On goes his lead and off we can go on a long, long walk, through the country, through the woods, down by the canal. And if you ever need some fun, make him stand on his back legs and dance!

Get better soon, Harry!

Would you like to see into the future?

If you could go forward in time and see yourself in the future, would you?

Would you like to know what you look like? Where you live? What your job is? Do you have kids? Do they look like you? Are you married?

Would your life be what you expected? Would you happy with it? Or would you try to change it?

A friend of mine has literally planned her life out to a tee. She’s already picked out her children’s names, planned her wedding down to the colour of the bridesmaids dresses and flower arrangements. Her dream is to have children, to have a family. I admire her in some ways, the fact she knows what she wants when I don’t have a clue! But what if, for some reason you can’t predict, her dream can’t come true. What if, by some trick of fates, she can’t have kids? Wouldn’t it be harder, after spending so much of your life wanting, if you don’t achieve? Would you rather know if you could? Surely it would save you disappointment in the future?  And that way you can work towards different goals?

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment

– Buddha

I’m curious about my future, of course I am, isn’t everyone? But would I like to know what happens? Most of the time, probably not. Some days, maybe I think would, just to check I’ve made the right decisions. But if you know what’s going to happen then really, what is the point in life?

Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.

– Audrey Hepburn

Inflatable Schlongs, Chunder Charts and Willy Toss. The End of Freshers :(

And so ends my first year of university.

For 9 months I’ve been living without my parents, cleaning up my own mess (I think I hoovered my room twice), drinking far too much alcohol (according to the “Chunder Chart” I was only alcohol-related sick 6 times!) and attending far too few lectures (I lived 20 minutes away, I can’t be expected to get to 9 o’clock lectures!).

I’ve learnt to cook. Sort of. After one term of living off of ready meals, it got too expensive to carry on and I was forced to cook my own dinner. And now I can cook a grand total of 3 meals- spaghetti bolognese, curry and fajitas!

Me and my house mates have done some strange things. A teacher at school told me that I would be too weird to make friends when I went to uni but luckily they were as normal as me. We decided we missed having animals around so we created our own “Flat 305 Petting Zoo.” We spent many hours drawing and sticking animals- including a goat, a snail, a rubber duck dressed as a policeman, a cat, a goldfish and a sea-monkey- to our kitchen wall. We created a quotes board for all the funny (and usually drunken) things we said. My favourite having to be:

“Why would you want an inflatable pecker? A peckers small. Surely you’d want an inflatable schlong!?”

At Christmas we made our own Santa’s grotto; one night we got the hairbrushes out and belted out ballads, serenading smokers in the courtyard; we played games of “willy toss” which involved trying to throw plastic hoops onto a plastic willy. Very difficult. And when one of my house mates went home for the weekend, we wrapped everything in her room in newspaper- including her floor, her toilet and every individual pencil. If any of you have a house mate- please try this. Yes, I like to think uni helped me grow up.

Reminiscing with my flatmates, it’s really weird that we have been living together for 9 months. I can still remember my first day, waking up in the morning terrified because I heard movement in the kitchen which meant I had to man up and go and introduce myself. Luckily she was really nice and chatty and took me on a tour and then for my first night out as a student! I was a little more wary about meeting my other house mate as the first time she spoke to me on Facebook was when I was unfortunately and horrifically fraped by my ‘friend’. The conversation went something like this:

Sofie: hey! we have a complete flat now 

“Me”: Hey, yayy r they girls?

Sofie: yes, all girls lol

“Me”: do u lyk girls??

Sofie: er yeah as friends :L

“Me”: ohh yeah me 2… but not anymore?

Sofie: no lol

“Me”: haha. wanna have sex? just real quick?

Sofie: er no?

Great first impression o.O

Living with the same people, people that have been forced together basically by the choice to go to uni, isn’t always easy. My neighbour who practically lives around our flat doesn’t speak to any of his flatmates. I was lucky in that all of my flatmates were friendly and funny and I got on with them all. But that doesn’t mean that it was all peachy. We had our fair share of drama in flat 305! Spending all of our time under each others feet wasn’t always easy and there was the occasional tension and arguing, usually over washing up, boys or when is the exceptional time to be noisy in the morning. Spending so much time together we saw all the good, the bad and the ugly things about each other. And unfortunately, for one of my house mates, she heard all that too, when one of the girls had such crazy, loud sex next door she was kept up all night with her wall shaking and books falling off of her bookshelf!

It’s going to be really weird not living with some of the people next year, or not living so close you can walk down the corridor to see them. I will definitely miss Flat 305 and couldn’t have asked for a better first year.

🙂

Sometimes, I don’t want to grow up.

Sometimes, getting older sucks. When you’re still in school you take for granted the people there. You just expect to go into class and see your best friend, stare at the guy you fancy, nod at the people you barely know and ignore the people you can’t stand. Even if you don’t go to the same school as your friends, you still live in the same area, still close enough to visit each other every weekend. Occasionally someone will move away, but that’s so rare you don’t think about it, and you still have your other friends to hang out with.

And then you get older and you leave school and everyone goes their separate ways. Some get a job, a lot go to Uni. Most people move away. Out of the hometown that you all grew up in. Admittedly, when I picked my University I wanted to be as far away as possible from home. It wasn’t until I moved away and realised how difficult it is to visit anyone or be visited, and how hard it is and how infrequent (not to mention expensive!) it is to go home that I started to regret my decision. Don’t get me wrong, I like my Uni, I’ve made some really good friends and the location is definitely better than my hometown, but I do often wish I had picked somewhere a bit closer to home.

A very close friend of mine told me he might be getting a job abroad; another of my best friends is going to America for a few months next year; I might be going abroad for a year’s work experience during my third year of Uni; even my brother wants to go to Uni in Australia (although unlikely, he’s too lazy to get himself a job). Thinking about this is when it really hit me how things have changed. I guess I just expected some people to be around all the time, every time I come back home, every time I just fancy a chat.

Sometimes, I really hate getting growing up.

May 15th

May 15th.

Anne Boleyn was sentenced to death; Mickey Mouse made his cartoon debut; McDonalds opened it’s first restaurant in California; The French got their first female president; The May 15th Incident; Paraguay’s Independence Day; First private mental health hospital opened in the US, Las Vegas was founded; Sputnik 3 & 4 were launched; California became the second state to legalise same sex marriage.

Most importantly…

MY BIRTHDAY!

Although maybe I should have been born yesterday- it was World Naked Gardening Day.