I caught a cheap Ryanair flight to Marrakesh, Morocco this afternoon. It was my first time taking the discount airline and I was wary as, even though they offer dirt cheap fares, I had heard many horror stories about how they ding you for extra fees for things like overweight or oversized luggage, boarding passes printed incorrectly, or any number of things.
Thankfully, I dodged all those things and was soon boarding the flight. What stood out the most was how they just hawk things throughout the flight: food, drinks, perfume/cologne, phone cards, scratch and win tickets. Yes, they sold scratch and win tickets on the flight – they actually announced it over the PA and held them up and waved them around. Ah, the world of discount airlines.
Once in Morocco I followed the somewhat intricate instructions of how to get to the hostel:
• Take the #19 bus from the airport to Place D’jeema el Fna in the centre of the souqs.
• Look for Cafe Argana
• To the left of the Cafe is a small square call Bab Fteuh. There is a pharmacy.
• Find the archway to the left of the pharmacy.
• Walk through and straight on until a boutique called Fnaque Berbere and Bazaar Chichaoua.
• Turn left and straight on. There is a large flower shaped archway.
• At the end of the street is a mosque and wood-carving boutique. There is a tiny tunnel to the right.
• Walk through it. This is Derb Rokni.
• We are the first door on the left – #23
I was very thankful that French is common here in Marrakesh and I was able to ask a couple of policemen which way to go in my broken french (which is WAY better than my broken Spanish).
When I arrived at the hostel, I met the other dozen people staying there. Everyone was super friendly and laid back and we all made plans to go out to dinner together later in the evening. I, however, couldn’t wait that long. I had been mesmerized by all the activity in the marketplace leading up to the hostel and desperately wanted to head straight back out there to explore and eat something before our dinner.
One of the girls in the hostel had recommended stall number 98, so I walked through the marketplace looking it. During my search, I was constantly accosted by hawkers trying to coral me into their stall to eat. “Hey, come on in… don’t be in such a hurry… number 74, remember me… where are you from?”
When I finally reached stall 98, I quickly found out why it had come so highly recommended. I literally sat down and within 30 seconds, five plates of food were dropped in front of me – fish, fries, bread, tomato salsa, green peppers and eggplant. He simply waved his hand and said 35 meaning 35 dirham which is the equivalent of about $4. No problem. I was so sick of trying to read menus of items I knew nothing about and here I got exactly what I wanted – a little bit of everything for cheap.
As I sat there eating alone among the locals, I sat back and took in all the culture around me. This was the first time since I started my trip where I felt I was truly on vacation and I was overcome by this immense feeling of joy. I was smiling to myself in this crowd full of people.
After a full meal, I headed back to the hostel and joined the others who were getting ready to head out for dinner. So, I went out to dinner again.
This time there were 9 of us and we went to a different stall. We ordered lamb, sausage, couscous, calamari, olives and bread for about $6 each. Oh, and fresh squeezed orange juice for only 4 dirham (40 cents!)
We ended the night having tea on a patio overlooking the marketplace before returning back to the hostel to chat for awhile.
Unfortunately, almost everyone is leaving early tomorrow morning as they’re either heading home, on to their next city or into the desert for a camel trek. No worries, though, as I have a feeling there will be a new batch of great people to meet tomorrow afternoon.
I can’t wait!