For most, a free trip to an exotic, vibrant land filled with wonder and promise and not to mention fabulous shopping opportunities would be considered a good thing. It was that time of year again where Hannah generously and kindly booked our annual Petal & Feast Work’s Do and attendance by all was viewed favourably.
Previous trips to Devon and Isle of Wight had been mostly spent eating all day in rustic farmhouses straight out of Country Living which suited me well. Hanging out with professional caterers was actually something I’d always clear my diary for. However, this year’s trip, had gone international and required an aeroplane. The first thing I didn’t like about it. The second thing I had concerns about was everything else.
I should probably provide some background at this point. On paper, Hannah and I aren’t a logical pairing. Hannah is “laid back”. By laid back, I mean, the kind of person that has swine flu and doesn’t notice or seek medical advice. [yes, really]. She also didn’t know who Ed Sheeran was until I told her [last year] and she pronounces X-Factor – X-FAC – TORRR because she’s never seen it. She hates a ‘faff’, has no need for comfort or warmth, or any time for wimps, whiners or the weak. Of which I am all three.
I am also the kind of person that thinks she probably has swine flu and will die of said flu slowly and painfully whenever I sneeze and my lips turn blue by September.
Over the years, Hannah has made great strides in challenging my naturally more anxious and considered ways and I have, in turn, tried to offer Hannah some valuable insights into which of her behaviours are viewed by society as “normal” and which aren’t. This is ongoing. So, from Hannah’s special point of view, booking a trip to Morocco was just another generous opportunity bestowed on me for personal growth.
I wasn’t keen from the moment we arrived. I knew I wouldn’t be. I had centred my concerns largely around rabies, snakes, health and crime. What I hadn’t considered was road safety but it soon prioritised itself. As often is the case when I’m with Hannah, I found myself feeling uneasy as we came out of the airport and were bundled into the back of a minibus by a man and tore off at a speed I personally would have reserved for aeroplane take off. I felt it a little pacy for winding pavements/roads [who can tell] rammed with people, mopeds, donkeys and livestock. Naturally, no one else looked the least bit bothered as I wondered if I’d ever see my family again and whether this would end in trafficking or death.
Remarkably, neither happened. Hannah looked suitably smug. She has a permanent “it’ll be fine” disposition and accompanying follow up, “I told you it would be fine” facial expression which can be irritating. Yes, when you write the blog, you can say what you like.
So we spilled out of the van into the night and straight onto what seemed to be the Arabian equivalent of a carriageway on the M25. I pressed myself up against the minibus as legs and wheels noisily whizzed and weaved around each other and I made a mental note to google Road Traffic Accident Deaths in Morocco if I made it to the riad. So we stood and waited for whom the driver called, “The Human of the Riad” or an ambulance, whichever we were going to need first.
The Human of the Riad appeared finally. A normal human in the end, much like Humans of the Houses back home. We travelled by foot, to our lodgings which were impassable by vehicle. Or so I naturally assumed. We followed through the dark and winding alleyways, and for a moment I forgot to be anxious. That was until a moped abruptly and, [I felt somewhat astonishingly] torpedoed out of the darkness straight at us and I realised there was no such thing as a pavement in Marrakesh and hypertension resumed.
Over the coming days, I learnt there was no safe place for a pedestrian to step or manoeuvre without considerable forethought. The thrilling uncertainty of whether I might be mowed down, stampeded, or just led off to a place I never intended to go, miles away from where I started with no hope of ever finding my way home stayed with me. Everyone else again, naturally, remained cool and nonchalant adapting to the cultural and staggering health and safety changes effortlessly.
Finally, the riad stood before us. Just a door really from the outside, like something you might see in medieval times or in Shrek. It looked much like a dragon would be on the other side breathing fire but that was probably safer than being outside so a big chunky iron key was inserted into it and it clunked open.
To be fair to Hannah, she never books anywhere unattractive and this was my first ray of hope in hours that some style, order and wi-fi may return to my life. A beautiful courtyard in copper tones ran through the centre and doors and staircases led to other stories with beautiful balconies. A room was found for me immediately to lie down in, I put the heater on and lay back on the furry rug on the bed with a ginormous mirror the size of the whole wall above it. There were Hugh Hefner vibes and I considered the chances of the mirror falling off and crushing me in my sleep or the heater gassing me to death but decided I had may have bigger challenges to face in the coming days……
Photos from the wonder that is Jayne Sacco.