Monday, 20 December 2010

Marrakech, getting lost in the Old City

We walked on and for a few minutes seemed to be followed by a spooky looking man wearing an ill fitting djellaba who stopped when we stopped and speeded up when we speeded up and we began to feel a bit uneasy about him. Eventually we shook him off but once again we had taken turnings and made route changes that didn’t improve our situation. Gradually we slipped out of the tourist areas into shabby parts of the city that were exclusively local but we remained certain that we must be getting close to the wall but then we came across a group of young boys who told us that we were walking into a dead end so we asked for their help.

This was a simple and elementary error because there is a warning against doing this in all of the guide books. They looked at the free give away tourist map that they must have seen hundreds of times before and appeared confused themselves and entered into an animated debate. We pointed to the wall and told them that that was where we wanted to go and then they marched off with our map and beckoned us to go with them. We were still confident that the wall must be just around the next corner so we made a mistake and followed them like sheep.

They kept walking and walking, stopping frequently to consult the map and then arguing between themselves about the right direction. It was all a game of course and one that they play every day of the week and they were walking us around in circles and deliberately getting us lost. Just ahead of us were a couple of tourists who seemed confident with their map and we thought this was possibly a good sign until they suddenly stopped and declared themselves lost as well. It was obvious now that the boys were no help at all so we gave them a few coins and dismissed them from our employment and the ran off to look for some more mugs.

In a busy main street there were some tour bus drivers who we felt sure must be able to give us advice but they either couldn’t or wouldn’t and in the next street two taxi drivers gave us completely contradictory directions.

We had been walking around in circles, completely lost, for about an hour by this time and Margaret and Kim were beginning to lose their patience and Mike and I were using up all of our chances to get the situation resolved. Luckily at last we came across a landmark that we could reconcile with the map and then we could see the Koutoubia Mosque so we knew that if we headed for that then we would find ourselves somewhere familiar and eventually to our relief we found ourselves at the Avenue Mohammed V.

After a drink at a cafĂ© where we made a vain attempt to try and understand from the map where we had gone wrong we completed our long walk around the city by returning to our starting point earlier this morning the Bab Agnaou but this time we kept to the main roads so that we wouldn’t get lost again.

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