With our confidence rising all the time, we could set our sights on attractions further away from our riad; shaking our heads at dubious offers of assistance and sometimes even laughing at the audacious claims of cheeky young locals. "C'est fermé!" or "It's closed!" is apparently a witty and helpful thing to shout at tourists as they walk along a street. At least there were no sexist slurs - our friend Beth had been on the receiving end of quite a lot of unwanted attention when she visited Marrakech with a female friend.
After checking out the lush Jardin Majorelle we visited the one of the amazing royal palaces, Palais-el-Badi:
- Front brakes completely disconnected
- Rear brakes also purely for decorative purposes
- "Moroccan singlespeed conversion" with gear ratio chosen using the rule "whatever stops the chain from falling off too much"
- Missing seatpost clamp, ingeniously replaced with padlock (Hah! That'll stop 'em!)
- Asymmetrical seat orientation; this actually suits the sidesaddle riding position adopted by most riders for easy ejection (see first two points)
- Cargo rack - this allows the vehicle to carry livestock and building materials with ease. We spotted a full-size front door being carried like this.
The scenery was spectacular, and quite astonishing at times, seeming more Swiss Alp than Moroccan Atlas:
Now, not being at all knowledgeable about ancient North African cleansing rituals, we cannot definitively say that our experience was the norm. If there is an expert reading this, does this sound right?
- Enter a small bathroom-like cubicle with no fittings beyond taps and drain
- Strip down to bathing suit
- Large member of the same sex enters the room
- Large person also strips to bathing suit
- Large person fills plastic buckets with warm water
- Large person pours water over client
- Large person applies soap to client
- Large person flagellates client with what feels like cheese grater (coarse side)
- Repeat steps 5-8 using ever-finer grating devices until all client skin has been removed
- Large person sloshes a final 20 litres of water over client
- Client dons dressing-gown in order to stop internal organs from falling out