January 14, 2020

My first pressing concern was dietary.  I’m not known for having a sturdy digestive system unlike everyone else on the trip (naturally). A lot of my day is regularly spent in the bathroom – some days more than others.  Hannah had talked a lot about the amazing street food of Morocco and her excitement levels had increased the closer the trip got, the others were also excited.  

I had a plan though, to neatly sidestep this unnecessary risk and keep me and my bottom on track, a trip to the local shop was needed.  I rounded up protection and out into the alleys we crept.  A brave team of three.  Refusing to be drawn into the casual, chatty attitude the other girls had adopted for the jaunt, each of my steps was now carefully considered and my hearing tuned out of conversation and instead channelled into the night, on high alert for mopeds.  Traveller mode for me.  

The shopkeeper looked pleased with my purchase of 3 tubes of Pringles and 5 boxes of crackers, and I also shared in his joy.  I didn’t let the excitement overtake me though as I still had to navigate back to the riad and focus was needed. 

The next day was spent wandering the streets, a little less dangerous by day as at least you could see what was coming for you, and I learnt later in the day that there was a left and right system that no one had actually bothered to mention before [thanks Hannah!] which at least cut the risk of injury/death by 50%. I must admit, that once shopping began, and all the colourful shiny things I could buy unveiled themselves, my enjoyment levels increased significantly.  I imagine it was much the same as how Princess Jasmine felt in Aladdin….  a whole new world……  

A lot of the day, besides shopping, was spent watching Hannah cuddle baby tortoises. There were a lot of them around and what became apparent was that Hannah couldn’t walk past any of them without stopping for a lengthy bonding session, stroking them, staring at them, smiling at them, sitting with them….  endlessly.  At one point, I watched her as she sat on the bench, tickling a tortoise under the chin, looking up at the shopkeeper as he spoke to her enthusiastically.  Her expression was much like Mowgli when the snake hypnotises him in Jungle Book.    Knowing her as I do, I could tell she was considering something very seriously.  The shopkeeper tapped his chest, gesturing as if popping something into his shirt pocket.  Listening more closely, it became apparent that the shopkeeper was weaving a tale of how achievable it was to pop a baby tortoise into a cigarette box and into your shirt pocket and EasyJet him back to a beautiful, if not damper, life in Sussex.  “No problem.  Happens all the time” he continued.

I looked back at Hannah, waiting for her standard expression of “you’re an idiot” to come back but her mouth remained open, her eyes locked on the tortoises.    It’s times like this where we all need a friend that stops us going to prison for five years for breaking international species protection law, and I came into my own. 

The rest of the day was a blur of chaos, colour, avoiding street food / rabies and being thrown around in my first Tuk-Tuk ride which everyone else found exhilarating, naturally.  It was much like what being tumble dried feels like I imagine.  Talking of which, I missed my tumble dryer.  I also missed those hair nets that people working within the field of food preparation wear.  And the latex gloves they use when handling food.  

The other’s didn’t miss these things and eagerly tucked into whatever food they smelt that was close.  Under heavy pressure from the Petal & Feast team to let go of my personality, I said I would try street food.  One day after them, from the same vendor they’d eaten from, if they’d shown no symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea since consumption.  These were my terms and I proceeded on that basis.  The others enjoyed my cavalier, devil may care, approach.

The next day Hannah decided a trip to a Hammam was a treat not to be missed.  I googled it immediately and learnt it was much like a ‘spa.’   I was starting to think this was actually one of Hannah’s better ideas.  I looked to Trip Advisor for options.  There were a few to choose from and they were all looking lovely, luxurious and golden with perfect levels of ambient light.  Yes, a relaxing massage was exactly what the doctor had ordered.   Except Hannah wanted the ‘authentic’ experience, at the local Hammam.  Trip Advisor’s review started with, “if you’re looking for pampering and soothing music, then this is not the place for you.”  Well of course not, what true Petal & Feaster would want pampering and soothing.  “You will lie on a mat on the concrete floor, naked”… the review continued.  

“I’m out” I declared, looking up over the top of my iPad which I’d never been more grateful for.  Seven pairs of eyebrows raised themselves by return.  I didn’t care.  I just wasn’t in the mood for lying on a mat on a concrete floor covered in others people’s used skin with my naked body as a garnish today.  

So off they all trundled happily [naturally] whilst I spent some quality time on my fur blanket next to my heater in my room.  The next time I saw them all, they looked radio-active and greasy – they were all very, very greasy.  

They were redder than I’d ever seen any of them achieve naturally and shiny like mirrors.  They remained shiny for days.  I later learnt this is because all of their body hair had been rubbed clean off their naked little bodies using the equivalent of gloves made of wire wool. They were lucky to have left with their eyebrows but none of them cared [naturally] and were just happy to be so clean.

Again special thanks to honorary Petal, Jayne Sacco for these lovely pictures.

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