I’m not a religious man; ask anyone that knows me.
Why do I mention this? Well, Nicky and Mike over at We Work For Cheese are running a month-long writing challenge. Yes, an entry every day in February.
So while I’m not a religious man, I’ll be over here, praying for deliverance.
Or to eaten by a shark in broad daylight in the high street.
It’s all good.
As I wake up in Marrakech for the first time, I'm pleased to discover that I'm a bit calmer than the day before, which was long and difficult.
The flight into Morocco from London Stanstead? Troublesome. The taxi to downtown from the airport? Fast and dangerous. The long walk along a tall-walled and seemingly endless alleyway to my house/hotel? Intimidating.
And my realisation that they really didn't speak any English? And that I would have to rely on my broad-but-hazy high school French?
Well, words failed me. Literally.
But then, I never enjoy the first day of a holiday much; I find the upheaval and change of scenery a bit disorienting and stressful. So far, Marrakech has proven to be no different than any other trip.
My top-floor room above a two-storey courtyard is bright, well-fitted and rather cheery. I shower, dress and go up a short flight of stairs to the roof. The view, while not spectacular, is encouraging; an old red-walled city with palm trees, blue skies, and sunshine.
Breakfast at this family-run riad is a solitary affair. My bad French alone could have guaranteed that, but it seems I am the only guest staying today. But the food is good. The fluffy egg pancakes are delicious and hot, the coffee strong and pleasantly rough, and the strange fried almondy things taste far better than they look.
I offer my thanks in Arabic (I have a handful of polite utterances at my disposal) to the beautiful young lady waiting on me, which goes down better than my attempts at French.
I am rewarded with a second cup of coffee and a lovely smile.
As I sit thinking about the day ahead, I peruse my French dictionary. As I pass a summary of restaurant words, I realise that I asked for the bill earlier, when I meant the menu. Oops. Not that they had a menu; they had breakfast. This explains the puzzled look I'd received from the daughter of the house.
I grin wryly; I know it won't be the final linguistic fumble of the trip.
I'd briefly considered and dismissed the language barrier, which as soon as I hit the airport I realised was a mistake. On a previous trip to the relaxed Arabic state of Tunisia, they had spoken half a dozen languages, three of which I could muddle by in, including English. So I'd assumed that Morocco would be similar?
Wrong. They speak three things: Arabic; French; and Nothing Else.
I'm not worried. My French will hold up. I think. It may even be fun.
The day awaits, and I feel surprisingly upbeat about it.
Continued in Part 2 - Ambushes In Waiting <--- THIS LINK WORKS NOW!
I cannot tell a lie; this is a re-run of a story I love.
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