12 September 2013

Hoofing it through Marrakech


When we travel to a new destination we like to start with a city tour to single out the neighbourhoods we want to explore further. On our first visit to Marrakech we decided rather than take a traditional guided bus or taxi tour, we would go by horse drawn carriage.


The Concierge at Four Seasons Resort Marrakech arranged for the carriage to pick us up from the resort. Once we assured Ouisie she did not have to kiss the horses she climbed aboard, and we clip-clopped our way into the bustling city streets. 

One thing you want to avoid in the Red City: driving and cycling. Being on the road feels like a game of truth or dare. Marrakech driving defines disorganisation. The roads are a jumble of horse drawn carriages, mopeds, cyclists, cars, taxis, and donkeys, too. 

Our carriage driver liked to believe he had the right-of-way. Any vehicle that did not give priority to his mares was shouted to in Arabic. He further shared his woes to pedestrians who, in turn, shouted back at him. I am not sure what the locals were shouting, but feel certain our oversized carriage was at fault in most incidents.

When he was not shouting profanities to other drivers, he was shouting salutations to acquaintances on every street. In between he was turned backwards to wink and blow kisses to Ouisie. I placed my trust in the two horses who, at least, kept their eyes on the road. 

An upside to a carriage tour? Aside from plenty of local colour, great street photography as no windows to obstruct the frame.













At one point, the driver stopped the carriage at the side of the road. He proceeded to jump out, leaving the three of us and two unattended horses.
We watched as our driver crossed four lanes of traffic to give a hug to a lady friend. We still have no idea if she was a wife, sister or just a cute gal he spotted from his bench. A few minutes later he was back on the bench with no explanation and off we went with a clip clop

After forty-five minutes we turned off the main roads and entered the calm oasis of Palmeraie. High end villa residences are situated behind tall red clay walls.  We wanted to ride a camel on our visit, and since we would not get to the Sahara Desert on this trip, the palm grove in Palmeraie was a perfect option.


Camels are tied around the grove offering rides from 30-minutes to 2-hours. We just needed a short ride to tick riding a camel off the list. And so we met our mother and daughter cows (female camels). 


Ouisie was terrified by the camels and burst into tears when I mounted Fatima. After minutes of unsuccessful bribing and coaxing, Chef got on the camel with Ouisie clawing at his neck. We were off on our Arabian adventure with Ouisie howling to get off. 


A few bumps in, Ouisie agreed to join Fatima and me and the tears stopped flowing. We recited Dr Seuss' Red Fish Blue Fish's silly rhyme "Hump of a Wump of Gump" over and over. I praised Ouisie's bravery and she eased into the saddle.


We shared some giggles as we went bumping along, until the lead camel's tail swished and grazed her foot. 

Fear and tears returned-- just in time for our family portrait below.


After thirty minutes we were unsure if we had enjoyed or tormented ourselves. In trying to convince Ouisie to go on the camel ride, we failed to negotiate a price at the start. We therefore paid (at least) triple the guide book's price. 

Leçon 1: Always set your price before you start.


We bid au revoir to our camels and got back in the carriage. An hour clip clop later we three cheered at the sight of Four Seasons Resort Marrakech's entrance. 

Having, again, failed to ask the Concierge for the carriage price or discuss with the driver before departure we paid double the guide book's price. 

Leçon 2: see Leçon 1

Dusty and flustered we entered the pristine resort's lobby and felt happy to be home

A good scrub in the bath rid us of the scent of road and animals. As we sipped on a martini and looked through the photos from the excursion, Chef and I could not help but laugh at the absurdity and brilliance of it all. 


Upon waking up this morning Ouisie let us know that, " I am NOT going to ride a camel again today." 

It seems we may have created one lasting memory for Ouisie, albeit one she may wish to soon forget. As for Chef and me, we will long remember hoofing it through the Red City.

The adventure continues in Post #2


2 comments:

  1. What wonderful memories of traveling in a very exotic part of the world. We'll start saving our shekels to pay for the future therapy Ouisie will need from her terrifying camel ride!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed! We were so proud of her for enjoying a few minutes of bumps. The resort pool is by far number 1 on her list! x

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