For the first time since ages ago I have a travel buddy.
I’ll call him Melbourne hipster.
We made a pact back in Turkey, where we met, to do Morocco together, something I was warned on no uncertain terms I could do alone.
As one well-travelled friend put it – ‘Morocco is Turkey on drugs.’
So still recovering from my 23-day straight stint of Olympic reporting I met Melbourne hipster in London at 3.10am to get the bus to the airport.
I hadn’t slept as I barricaded myself in the bedroom of the place I was purebred cat-sitting, in paranoid fear someone was trying to kill me.
Melbourne hipster hadn’t slept either, in fact he was still drunk from his leaving party the night before.
So over the course of the morning I witness his transformation from a drunk ranter to a horrifically hungover 21-year-old, who looks even more like death after we are smacked by a wall of moist air when we get off the plane in Marrakech.
Given we are both as disorganised as each other, our first challenge is to work out what language they speak and what their currency is.
In fact, I was so disorganised for this trip the only thing I was prepared for was the Turkey-style jibes of ‘Lady Gaga’ and ‘Shakira’ that seem to plague blonde females in Muslim countries and I couldn’t believe my luck when I was just given the cold shoulder and the odd sideways glance.
Ok, it helps that I’m travelling with a male and it helps even more that this male is a Greek-Australian who looks like a minted Moroccan, especially after I peer pressured him into getting rid of his asymmetrical hipster locks in favour of an all over number two.
That day was going well until my credit card got swallowed by an ATM and the guy at the bank wouldn’t open up to help me retrieve it, all at the same time as a young light-fingered local kept poking me in the chest and trying to ply open my money belt.
Luckily, Melbourne hipster has a rationale calming effect on me, as if i’d been by myself tears would have ensued.
Apart from the card swallowing incident, we managed to survive all the Marrakech tourist traps – including one where we were led to what we were told was a ‘colour festival’ only to discover it was some crappy pots of paint. Thanks Melbourne hipster (Nick Antonopoulos) for the photo.
It soon became clear that it was all just a ploy to get us to buy some overpriced scarves, which we avoided, though not before we were swaddled in them.
And despite our utter lack of planning, we only managed to get properly lost once while trying to find the Kaspar, which we wanted to visit primarily because of the song – ‘Rock the Kaspar.’
But in further proof of what a small world it is, just as we were about to give up the three uber organised, efficient and slightly dorky German backpackers from our hostel strolled past. Turns out we were deep in a cyber park where locals come to surf the interweb amongst the lush oasis in what is otherwise a urine-smelling, chaotic, grubby, colourful, sun-scorched city.
As for our hostel, it was called Rainbow Marrakech – fitting given the interior looked like a rainbow had just projectile spewed on it and an open-air roof, much appreciated when the mercury rose into the mid 40s.
It was also home to staff who didn’t speak to us at all, a bathroom that smelt like warm cabbage and the smallest bed I’ve ever slept on in my life.
But I can’t complain, you get what you pay for and it was $8 New Zealand a night, though we left wondering if you could really put a price on waking up without being in a pool of your own sweat.
It was the same kind of feeling as waking up when you’re really really hungover, something that you should not have to encounter given it’s a dry muslim country.
I must say though, my body is thanking me for the lack of alcohol and it’s by far the most sober I’ve been since I began backpacking.
Or perhaps it’s just Morocco, everything here is so random and out there there’s been a number of times Melbourne hipster and I have turned to each other and simply said – ‘where the hell are we?’