IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE BEACH TODAY YOU’D BETTER ………
........not take your vehicle! OK, not strictly speaking a motorhome topic but perhaps one we should all be a bit aware of.
The pictures below were taken at a beach not a long way south of Sidi-Ifni, a favourite camping location for motor homer's ....... And yes, I have seen motorhomes on the sands.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.......................
OK Marrakech again…….but you will find these Spice Souks in every town in Morocco. Don’t just hurry by, looking the other way while taking a little peek. Stop, smell and step inside…… Seeing ghosts has never been a major preoccupation for me, but if ever I find myself frightened of phantoms I know exactly where to go..........to the Spice Souk in Marrakech, where Ahmed will create a secret blend of dried chameleon, iguana foot, sea urchin, hedgehog and fish bones. He'll mix and grind them together for you........ Later throw them in fire and breathe in the cleansing fumes, make a paste and apply to the requisite spot, digest in raw form or as a bedtime beverage. Dried chameleon and hedgehog may be some of the more obscure ingredients on offer at the Berber Pharmacies, but as I said for whatever ails you have they will have something to swallow, breathe, rub on or wash in. Too much stress and not sleeping? Try an infusion of nutmeg flower. Having trouble with migraine or sinus? Then a few tiny black nejillia seeds wrapped in a cloth and inhaled after a quick rub on your palm will blow your head off, make your eyes water and instantly clear your head. It's also great for snoring we are told.
Ahmed spots a shaving cut on my face and gives me a piece of alawn stone to rub on to aid quick healing. With a side-long glance he tells me that is also "creates new virgins", a topic I prefer not to pursue. Continuing with the theme he suggests that should I ever need help in the "men's department" he'll mix me a concoction of Moroccan ginseng tea with just a smidgen of Spanish fly, a tiny insect so toxic that they are sold in the most miniscule quantities imaginable, but even so, Ahmed assures me, "all the night gymnastic, by morning's man's dead".
A visit to a Berber pharmacy is as much ceremony as shopping. With a grin they will offer you a glass of "Berber Whisky" - mint tea - while they discuss what ails you, let you sample a little of this, smell a soupcon of that, before mixing your potion, over charging you and then try to sell you something else. But it's all part of the game.
When I first visited Ahmed almost ten years ago I brought three small blocks of concentrated ambergris, jasmine flower and musk, which still perfume my home and never seem to fade or reduce in size. But after setting fire to a piece of gourd and inhaling the smoke to try and cure a headache, the stench was so bad that I decided that perhaps modern-day pharmacy does have something to offer - and swallowed a paracetemol instead.
A visit to a genuine Berber Pharmacy is pure entertainment ...... with a bonus!
So, when you come to Joujouka for the festival, you’re not just following in the footsteps of Paul Bowles, Brion Gysin, William Burroughs, Brian Jones and some of the world’s most challenging artists. You’re experiencing the unique healing power of the music of the Masters in its purest possible form. The next Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival takes place from 14-16 June 2013. For the last six years Moroccan Sufi trance group the Master Musicians of Joujouka have held an annual festival for an international crowd of music lovers to experience their music in an intimate setting.
Inside the village the thatched houses crouch low in their gardens to hide in the deep cactus-lined lanes. You come through their maze to the broad village green where the pipers are piping; fifty raitas banked against a crumbling wall blow sheet lightning to shatter the sky. Fifty wild flutes blow up a storm in front of them, while a platoon of small boys in long belted white robes and brown wool turbans drum like young thunder. All the villagers dressed in best white, swirl in great circles and coil around one Wildman in skins.
Bou Jeloud leaps high in the air on the music, races after the women again and again, lashing at them fiercely with his flails -'forget not in your speed, Antonius, to touch Calpurnia' - He is wild. He is mad. Sowing panic. Lashing at anyone; striking real terror into the crowd. Woman scatter like white marabout birds all aflutter and settle on one little hillock for safety, all huddled in one quivering lump. They throw back their heads to the moon and scream with throats open to the gullet, lolling their tongues around their heads like the clapper in a bell. Every mouth is wide open, frozen into an O. Head back and hot narrow eyes brimming with dangerous baby.
Bou Jeloud is after you. Running, over-run, laughter..... someone is crying. Wild dogs at your heels, swirling around in one ring-a-rosy, around and around and around. Go! Forever! Stop! Never! More and No More and No More! ........... Pipes crack in your head. Ears popped away at barrier sound and you are deaf. Or dead! Swirling around in cold moonlight, surrounded by wildmen or ghosts. Bou Jeloud is on you, butting you, beating you, taking you, and leaving you. Gone! The great wind drops out of your head and you hear the heavenly music again.
Pan leaps back on the gaggle of women with his flails. The women scream and deliver one tiny boy, wriggling and stumbling as he dances out in white drag and veil. Another blood curdling birth-yodel and they throw up another small boy. Pan flails them as they push out another and another until there is ten or more little boys-girls out there with Pan, shaking that thing in the moonlight.
Bigger village drag-stars slither out on the village green and shake it up night after night. Pan kings them all until dawn. They are, all of them, Aisha Homolka .......... He is the God Pan.
The marathon is in reality a multi-day ‘ultra-marathon’ or ‘ultra’ run over six days following a course of between 150 and 156 (254km) miles, If that does not sound much then think about it, it’s the equivalent of running from London to Dover and back again, but in 120 degree heat and with a heavy survival backpack strapped on and with tormenting voices in your head screaming out for a cold beer!
The actual routes and formats change every year. The Race Director and his team spend a month meticulously planning routes that are held secret until the day before the event starts.
Competitors stay overnight in a bivouac village, comprised of tents that sleep about 8 competitors per tent. Once you get your 'bivvy' your bivvy team become your family, your support team, your nursing team and invariably they become long-term friends.
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME…………..
In countryside homes, it's not unusual to see whole rooms knee-deep in rosebuds and petals that are left to dry. Moroccan women use rosewater on their faces (it's great for combatting wrinkles!), and the dried buds can be mixed with ghassoul (clay) in facial and hair products. It's also used in flower water shakers at celebrations, and spice merchants add dried buds to ras el-hanoot, used in cooking.
Rosewater from El Kelaa M'Gouna is available everywhere in the Fez Medina and is very cheap (around Dh10 for a 200ml bottle). Moroccans make their own rosewater at this time of year, when you can see shops selling nothing but rose petals, and small zinc stills are widely available.
The "Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013" ranked 140 countries according to attractiveness and competitiveness in the travel and tourism industries. Among the extensive analyses, one of the most interesting rankings was how welcome tourists are in each country, under the category "Attitude of population toward foreign visitors."