*** RETRO POST ***
This is one of my posts, where I write it years after the event - just so I can tick off a few bucket list items.
On placement, the students where I worked (of which I was one of), formed a close group of friends. We decided that we should go on a holiday together. Initally, we wanted to go to Croatia, but the price was a bit steep, so instead, we chose to go to Morocco.
It was, in some ways, a perfect holiday. Surrounded by a great group of guys and girls, we had the perfect mix of adventurers and 'chillaxers' (yes I made that word up).
The highlights (well, I say they were the highlights, as I can remember them two years after the holiday) are summarised below :
All Inclusive Hotel
We stayed in the Hotel Riu Tikida Garden in Marrakesh. This was the first all inclusive holiday I've been on. (Been on one more since - but that was a stag do #notAboutTheFood).
I've always had a stigma about all inclusive holidays. What is the point of going to a new and exotic country - only to eat the basic boring food that you can get at home. Why not go outside and explore and see what the locals eat?
I now get why people do it.
The all inclusive food was okay. But when it came to food, we went for volume - because we were drinking loads - thats where all inclusive really gets its value.
Yes the drinks were watered down, but seeing as you could go the bar and get more, we weren't that bothered. :D
There was a resturant, within the hotel, that made authentic Moroccon food, which we had to book. We did go to it - and the food was really good.
On another note, the holiday reps by the pool, were getting groups of people to dance to this really 'cheesy' but 'catchy' tune - although we danced to this tune A LOT over the week, we did get a little sick of it in the end.
We were there during Euro 2016 and watched Daniel Sturridge score a late winner against Wales. The room went mental!
Souks were the market stalls in central Marrakesh. I don't have any pictures of us in the market stalls, but the photo below, although it looks like a Stock Photo, really does grasp what it looked like when we visited.
From what we could tell, there were two Souks. One for the locals, the other for the tourists. The tourist one sold the usual souvenir tat. We did get a quick glimpse of the local Souks, which were selling food (in the form of chickens - that were alive). We got shepherded away from that part of the Souks fairly quickly.
The one thing I do remember was the seller's tactics in how to get the tourists attention. They shouted phrases like 'ASDA Price' and saw who turned around. We guessed it was the way that they tried to determine who they could get the most money out of.
The other thing is always haggle! Although some places had set prices, there were a lot of market stalls selling the same thing - so, for those who do go, have a good look around before committing to a purchase. When you do decide, always ask the seller to get it cheaper.
In short, they were beautiful.
One of the good things about going on holiday with those who go travelling a lot, is that they don't follow the crowd - and can find an absolute gem of an experience - for a fraction of the cost.
Long story short, there was a trip to visit the Ouzoud Falls through Thompson (now TUI) - which a lot of our fellow holiday makers partook in. Instead, we went online, went through TripAdvisor, to find a more local tour guide - called Mamood (I think). He was frigging awesome. He studied International Tourism and really knew his stuff. Whilst every other tour guide had 20-30 people, the 7 of us had him - which made the whole experience so much better.
It was here where the monkey episode came about.
There's was a lot of 'street hustling' in Morocco, and here at the Ouzoud Falls was no exception (it might be because we were tourists, we saw it more? :/).
One of the things that theses 'street merchants' were trying to sell was a 'feed the Monkey' experience (literally). They had a massive bag of monkey nuts, and sold them to tourists so that they could feed the monkeys. (Mamood didn't approve of these guys, so what happened next was amazing).
One of the monkeys, got on my shoulders, and stayed there :)). It felt super weird at the time. Also, I was quite scared the monkey was about to pee on me (It didn't) - but I'm counting that as 'holding an monkey'. :)
We walked up a littler further, away from the street merchants - to find some monkeys - and the other guys gave them some bananas we took from breakfast that morning. I remember we had to be sneaky so that the bigger monkeys didn't see us give bananas to the smaller monkeys. (It looked like there was some authority within the monkeys).
Amazing trip, great company, highly recommend.
Thanks for reading :) x