Jun. 9th, 2005

Actually, I'm back, not bound, but couldn't resist the line from "The Road To Morocco"

We were in Casablanca for 20 minutes – the plane touched down there to pick up passengers for Marrakech at the bus-stop. From the air it looked like a pretty grimy industrial town, and the guidebook agreed. I’d have liked to see Rick’s Café Amercaine, but I know that Casablanca was filmed entirely in Hollywood. Marrakech was great fun – we spent a day in the Souks, and they were what I expected only more so – more smelly, more busy, bigger, more in-your-face. Kind of like the Barras in Glasgow except they also make the wares – the metal-working and dyers markets have to be seen (and heard, and smelled) to be believed. We had a great guide, who sheltered us from most of the more extreme hawking and guided us into shops that probably only gave him a 5% cut. Haggling was fun, too, and came more easily to me than I’d expected.

The mountains were more scary than scenic – the geology looks untouched from when the rocks cooled, and you can understand why Gladiator was filmed there, and Star Wars just round the corner in Tunisia.

I really liked the coast – it’s mostly undeveloped, and you get great towns like Essouira, which was founded by the Phoenicians, taken over by the Berbers, then the Arabs, then the Portuguese, the Arabs again, the French, then the Berbers. The architecture mixes all of that, with the added bonus that the street plan was laid out by a French architect inside Berber walls. Town planning was probably easier when you could raze everything inside the walls and start again (although that didn’t seem to work too well in certain parts of Glasgow). Moorish architecture really appeals to me. Every building in the old towns is undecorated on the outside, unpainted, roughcast walls (we asked our guide why – he said that you don’t see the outside when you’re at home, so why waste money decorating it?) but on the inside you get a palace (well, sometimes). The model of an interior courtyard built around a fountain, and high ceilinged rooms on two floors built into very thick walls would seem ideal for Scotland – as long as you had a glass or retractable roof for protection against the elements. I know what I want to build for the retirement house now (ok, what I want someone else to build).



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