Off down the N13 again, through Quazzane and on to Volubilis, site of Roman ruins. It had been a bit cloudy for the past couple of days, now the sun was slowly creeping out and the temperature slowly climbing. Even with a background of blue sky, I did find the ruins a little under-impressive. Some were still standing, but there were just piles of large bricks laying where they had fallen.Couln’t they stack them up a bit? make them look a little neater? Here like
most places in Morocco, I think it’s an attitude, no effort to maintain the place, weeds growing in amongst the rooms and the occasional depth-charge left by a tourists dog. For 10Dh each (84p) it filled a lunch break walk, but we wouldn’t come back in a hurry.
Back at the campsite, we ran into old camping acquaintances from Chefchaouen, John and Sue, who had just come back from the town of Moulay Idriss, reporting that they were underwhelmed by the little village and we wouldn’t be missing much by skipping it. Decision made, we chilled the beer & opened the wine and had a ‘down day’ chilling-out in the sun by the van.
As some of you may have noticed, I’m a little behind on the blog. I’m currently typing this from Midelt, just before the Atlas mountains, it’s 06:00h in the morning, having been woken again by the 05:30h ‘Call to prayer’ hollering which takes place every morning & another 4 times during the day. It’s one of those sounds that, once you have heard it, you will never forget. The temperature goes down to 10 degrees in the early hours, then (with any luck & a kick from Allah) up to 25 degrees around 14:00h. The main reason I’m a week behind is, I had trouble getting hold of the correct Moroc Telecom internet card, some shops didn’t have one, some were closed on the days we were there, other wanted to sell me a contract or simply didn’t understand what I wanted. I finally got one in Meknes for 60Dh (£4.80) with 4Gb pre-loaded, but I will need to top it up when the 4Gb runs out. The ‘illimite’ unlimited deal from Moroc Telecom is long since over and most of the shop owners looked at me with a blank stare “where have you been for the past 5 years!!”
There was a little confusion over the camping in Meknes, some blogs reported it as closed, my ‘maps.me’ also informed us it was closed, camping-car-infos…closed, the young lad running things on the Moulay Idriss site also confirmed it was closed. But in a newish Moroc Camping book John owned reported it as open, so he gave us the co-ords & we went on ahead. Guess what…closed! But somewhere in the back of my memory, there was a line rolling around that I’d read (somewhere) that you can park with guarded parking inside the city walls & I could picture the arch & castellated walls behind a MoHo…all we have to do is find it! With a little common sense and a lot of luck, we almost drove straight to it, N33.8895 W5.5535. 60Dh per night, it’s busy during the day but reasonably quiet at night & there was a police presence in this square all night, most of the night they were parked next to our van.
Smack-bang in the centre of Meknes, time for wander into the Medina, permanent market area. Still in search of a Moroc Telecom card at this point, we ask at a little shop with the Moroc T symbol. He didn’t have one, but a bloke, who just happened to be standing at the shop too, knew of another shop around the corner who could get me one, so we follow him. As we walk, he’s chatting away about his 7 children, he being Burber and will you come see the spice shop too? We sort out our requirements from Telecom shop #2, he doesn’t have one but will get one, come back in half an hour. OK onto the spice shop, there we get a full briefing on 20-30 types of spice & tea mixtures, 101 ways to use Argan Oil & then into the hard sell. It’s very difficult, after someone’s invested half an hour of their day on you, to flatly refuse to buy anything, turn and walk away. They too know this!! Very well!! That’s the rub, so we halved the quantities they were beginning to weigh up & get a way lightly. The shop was a front to an organisation that looks after Berber women, the ones presumably without Berber men, so we were OK with the ethics too, we have a big bag of tea & enough vegetarian Tagine spices to last us a year & they have our 300Dh (£24), probably way over the odds, but all’s well that ends well & lesson learned. We also bought 1kg of huge strawberries for 10Dh from one of the carts being pushed up and down the streets & they were delicious.
We visited the closed medina, the open medina, the market square and the mausoleum. In the main square we saw smart decorated horses standing to attention waiting for the tourist to straddle it and have a picture taken. Two Capuchin monkeys with equally photogenic opportunities, John later told me there were snake charmers after sunset, which we didn’t see. The open (retail) market was nothing special, you could buy anything they had for sale here anywhere in morocco, but we had a good long walk up to McD’s and a coffee.
Just behind where we had parked, there were two hawks sitting on a drainage pipe, but they flew off as soon as I got close, maybe I need a longer lens? The evening light was so warm, the colours just seem to bounce off everything. There were carriage rides to be had, we didn’t partake, we had a long day, we ate in the van, got tucked in & caught up with the Christmas shows we had recorded, John Bishops Christmas show 2015.
The Woolly Wanderers?
Just a question out there to anybody who reads travel blogs, have you any idea what happened to the blog ‘The Woolly Wanderers’ ? The blog has been updated at least every week then it just stops on page 356 Denmark. Very strange, if you know anything, please let me know….. https://woollywanderers.wordpress.com/
If you go down the pub today, have a pint of REAL ale for me…I’m all out and I could murder one…or three!!
Have a good Sunday. Wayne X