Pre Holiday Prep
My first adult holiday was booked on a whim. One night in October I was bored, and so naturally started aimlessly scrolling through cheap flights on Ryanair, when I came across free flight deals. Well …. You have to have a look don’t you. So off I clicked, when I found Marrakech. Now I’m going to be honest 11 years a go, with very little knowledge of the world and it’s name places I had to google where Marrakech was.
Maaaaaate I got so excited, when it came up on google images and I could see this whole new world I’d never seen before and I could go for free! (well we had to pay for hand luggage but for the two of us we got return flights for £60!) I rang my partner at the time got super hyper and booked them on a whim for next month. Hurriedly booked our stay at the ‘Riad Palais Sebban‘ and we were set. Well ….. Physically we were set.
Mentally, now that was a whole new ball game. Not only was this my first adult holiday I.e. no chaperone, but it was also my first time going outside of Europe to a place I’d never heard of, with my parents whittling that something bad was going to happen due to fear of the unknown.
But did I let that stop me?
Did I FUCK!
Instead, I did as much research as possible about Marrakech, it’s customs, it’s traditions and how to be respectful in a country whose culture differs from my own. I worried ALOT, I wanted to cancel ALOT, and many times felt I couldn’t do it. Which is ridiculous. Because anybody can go on holiday if they should wish too. It’s our stupid minds telling us otherwise with that good old ‘Pre-Anxiety Travel’ and therefore making us doubt our abilities. For me this was mainly because I feared that ‘unknown’
The unknown of being out of Europe
The unknown of being the furthest distance from my parents I had ever been
The unknown of the language barrier
The unknown culture
The unknown currnecy and it’s values
The horror stories on the fucking internet
And after a month of preparing, armed with my Lonely Planet pocket guide book, holiday insurance, and my parents warning to my partner still ringing in my ears (if Charlotte doesn’t come back, you don’t come back, their way of trying to make light of their huge fears and overprotectivness) I arrived at East Midlands Airport, ready for my first adventure.
Now East Midlands is one of my favourite airports in the UK, it’s not too big, has a bar and was at the time the only northern airport I knew of with an outdoor smoking area.
When I arrived, I couldn’t contain the excitment of getting my first stamp in my passport! I paid my visa fee, and off I popped with my hotel name in hand for the Taxi driver. Now the drive there is its own experience, as I soon learnt red lights mean bugger all. It was late at night when we arrive, so I got a quick meal and headed off to bed ready to be energised in the morning.
Marrakech: The Holiday itself
Having arrived late at night, I had very little understanding as to where I was in proximity to everything. Therefore with a tummy filled from breakfast, I stepped outside to a queue of taxis. Now in my naivety I simply asked my taxi driver to take me to the ‘main shopping area’ and having not specifically specified the Medina, promptly arrived at a friend’s of his shop ….
Therefore I got another taxi, and was given such an amazing taxi driver that he helped me for the entirety of my trip. I went to the Jardin Majorelle, out into the desert to see camels and dropped off at a local eatery before arranging a pick up time for tonight. He then came and took me to Mellah a beautiful Jewish market where I bought clay lipstick and solid perfume! Before whisking me off to the Medina to spend my evening.
Now the Medina was a beautiful, busy and chaotic place, with so much happening I didn’t know where to look. There was so many stalls, and everyone bustling around as it was EID the next day. There were entire families on motorbikes with sheep, ready to eat the following day, after the Mayors speech.
Something I find fascinating about the customs in Marrakech on Eid is none of the Sheep goes to waste. It is divided into thirds.
1 third to have with your family
1 third to share with friends
1 third to be given to the homeless
As it was Eid, in the morning we relaxed by the pool. I’m such a sun child, so was loving the fact I could sunbathe in November! After a few busy days it was actually really nice to do NOTHING. I get huge FOMO so I can struggle with the notion of doing absolutely sweet fuck all. But during this instance I appreciated it. I then spent the evening in the market, bought a cute new winter hat, had yummy mint tea and lamb tagine which was soooooo good at the Kasbah Café.
Having pre arranged with the journey with the taxi driver I was off into the Atlas Mountians for a guided walk. On the way I was unexpectedly taken to a Saffron tour who was a friend of the drivers and was able to taste to amazing safron, mint tea. I then carried on my journey, the walk was so beautiful. The guide even gave me a ‘shove’ up the steep bits as I was embarrassingly unable to pull myself up … For fuck’s sake.
Side Note: Now as a animal lover I was a little gutted that I didn’t see any monkeys, but was assured that in the summer they are in abundance.
Once the walk ended I was taken through a local village, where I ended up buying a rug… Now I hear you say
‘Surely you don’t have enough room in your HAND luggage for a rug’
And you would be 100% correct. But after being told it was what people put outside their bedroom windows stating what they want from life, such as marriage, children and career, for potential suitors, there was no way I wasn’t buying it.
Day 4 / Going Home
So not being one to sit around waiting for my taxi to the airport, I arranged with my wonderful taxi friend to drive nearly three hours to Essaouira. A beautiful coastal fishing village west of Marrakech, for a couple of hours. Savouring my final hours of sunshine. Then drive nearly three hours back to go to the airport. Armed with my brand new rug and wearing a pair of leggings, a pair of trousers, a dress, a strappy top, a cardigan and a coat…. to ensure my new rug fit in my hand luggage.
An unfortunate incident in Marrakech that turned into a hilarious experience
So As I mentioned in a previous post
I had an unfortunate incident whilst in Marrakech. It was my first night, I was in the Medina soaking up the hustle and bustle when I was approached by two women. Offering me and my partner henna. Loving henna, I jumped at this offer and agreed a price. It was so beautiful and done so quickly, the two of them positioned themselves between me and my partner. Once they finished I took out my purse to pay them. Then they grabbed all the money in my purse and ran off into the crowd.
I was heartbroken, how could somebody do that? Luckily being someone who over plans for everything and over analyses every single possibility and outcome should anything bad happen. My partner had money in his wallet too. So we got a taxi back to our Riad.
I was laid on the bed, sobbing, and I mean howling crying. I was so distraught that this had happened. My anxiety levels went through the roof, I was having a huge panic attack and just wanted to pack my stuff and leave. There and then. Though something that happens when you are crying that much and grasping for breath, is that you inadvertently push. And so during this incredibly traumatic time for me ….
I only went a farted….
I froze, and don’t think I even breathed. Hoping and praying my partner hadn’t heard … I mean it was loud enough to shake the fucking bed but I remained hopeful. You see we’d not been together that long, a matter of months, it was my first grown up relationship and we’d never discussed farting etiquette. I was still going to the toilet to do it, holding my cheeks apart to not make a sound. I was cringing so hard inside. Luckily he burst out laughing, and so did I. For what to happen, I laugh so hard I fart again. I can’t breath by this point my stomach is aching from laughing so much and I’m crying this time in happiness.
You see if I’d have let that one shitty experience bother me, and I’d have gone home vowing never to travel again. I’d have missed out on what was an incredible trip. One that I still look back at in fondness. I met a taxi driver who charged me whatever I wanted, in exchange for practising English. I discovered Tagine, I was able to use my GCSE in French and I got a beautiful rug that I still have in my bedroom.
Yes it was scary and yes I made some mistakes But that only guided me for the future. Because my mental health will not stop me.