Eat, Pray, Love in Morocco

September 14, 2014

Every woman has that "thing". The thing that they can't resist buying. Obviously the most common of these are designer shoes, handbags, Chanel make-up... but I've always thought I was free of this particular vice (although those who've seen my lipstick collection may beg to differ).
However, over the past year it's dawned on my that, just like every other woman, I too have a "thing". Travel. There's something about the Skyscanner website I just can't resist. For someone who is usually incredibly cautious with money, I have absolutely no restraint when it comes to planes, trains and hotels. 
But this time, it was really my friend Saf's fault. She's one of those people that make everything seem like an amazing idea; in February she nearly convinced me to cycle from London to Brighton instead of getting the train - luckily I remembered just in time that A) it's a bloody long way and B) I actually don't like cycling. But this incredible enthusiasm is how, back in March, an innocent cup of tea at hers somehow turned into booking Yet Another Holiday. 
At the beginning of Spring, September seemed a really long way away. But then revision came around, and then exams, then travelling for a month, and August came and went and suddenly I had to pay the balance of the Surf and Yoga holiday to Morocco that I had spontaneously (and a little foolishly) booked half a year ago. But secretly, I was really looking forward to it. A month was quite enough time to recover from my last little trip and I was really itching to get going again...


First stop: Marrakech. By the time we arrived we were entirely exhausted; during the day we had got up at 2.30am, had my credit cards and Oyster stolen on the train, tried to check into the wrong terminal, had to pay for Saf's hand luggage and been reminded that Easyjet definitely does not provide the same level of service as Emirates. However, after we had checked in at our gorgeous Riad and been revived with some mint tea, we felt ready to tackle the city...

Marrakech is crazy. To describe it as hectic doesn't really do it justice. Just wandering around Jemaa el Fna, the main square in the Medina, you're hassled by men with snakes and monkeys, people trying to sell you dates and nuts and fresh OJ (which we were completely addicted to by the end of the holiday!), people trying to get you into taxis and force henna tattoos onto your arm. Saf and I instantly fell in love with it and spent the day getting lost in the souks, before returning to the haven of our Riad and relaxing on their roof terrace.

After a couple of days, a lot of OJ and some delicious food we travelled down to the coast for surfing and yoga. When I told people this is what I had planned they're first reaction was to laugh; I'm not really a watersports kind of girl and, actually, I kind of hate them. I don't like the way seawater makes my hair feel and I don't like swallowing it when I fall in and I don't like finding sand everywhere for the next three months - all things I conveniently managed to forget when I booked the trip!

The place we stayed was right on the coast in Taghazout. The views from our room and the roof terrace were incredible...

After a 7.30 start, we headed to the beach for our first day of surfing. It was immediately obvious that I wasn't a natural - no surprises there. Whilst Saf and Saffy turned out to be pretty good, luckily Lauren had never been before either so I had someone to flail around in the water with and share stories of being hit on the head by our boards. After about five hours, my arms ached in places I didn't realise I had muscles, I had a bruise on my head and had practically had salt water oozing out of me - but I managed to stand up so a day not entirely wasted! After the beach, we came home, showered and went to yoga. It turns out that holding a Downward Dog is neither easy nor enjoyable when your arm muscles are screaming out in pain - but yoga outside overlooking the ocean made it all bearable. Very Eat, Pray, Love.

It turns out that, when you manage to stand up, surfing it pretty fun. After a week, we were exhausted but seriously sad to leave to go back to Marrakech. We felt like pretty gnarly surfer babes.

We spent out last two days in Marrakech trying to get Saf an emergency passport when it turned out hers had been stolen - not a fun challenge when you speak no Arabic, very little French and you're in a country where the police don't seem particularly keen on English people. Still, after a wild goose chase round most of Marrakech, there was a definite sense of satisfaction when we finally managed to get our hands on the little cream Passport...

Now I've returned, it's somehow the middle of September and summer is definitely over. I've had a pretty incredible few months off but I'm looking forward to moving back to London tomorrow... and is it weird that I'm already a little excited about Christmas?

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