John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Tuesday 25 March 2014

[Monday 24 March 2014]

19:55 Marrakesh
23:45 Manchester Airport
Premier Inn, Runger Lane North

Day 84 Numbers 33; John 15
Your tour manager will advise the departure time to Marrakesh airport, for your return flight. There will be a final card to complete and hand in at Passport Control at the airport. There are money exchange facilities in the check-in area of Marrakesh Airport, although you are now permitted to take up to 1000 Dirhams out of Morocco. There is a selection of shops and eateries in the departure lounge of the airport but the Duty Free shop does not accept Dirhams.

I woke to find that Janet had been awake much of the night with repeated runs to the loo.… Went out and following the direction pointed by the concierge found a pharmacy, but it was closed till 9am. I went back, reported to Janet, then went down for some breakfast; then at 9am went out again. The door appeared still to be locked, but the white coated pharmacist came and opened it. I explained what I needed — “Pour vous?” “Pour ma femme” — and got a box of sachets of powders to be taken in suspension in water. She took one, then went back to bed till 10am. Her last “necessity” had been ca.7am so she began to feel hopeful and a bit better, but very weary. I did stuff on the computer as Janet did the packing of the cases. She’d been planning to get a bus back to Jemaa El Fna so was a bit disappointed about that, but we went for a walk, turning right, along Avenue Mohammed VI, and were rewarded with a clear view of the High Atlas Mountains. On previous days they’d been obscured by mist. Janet found herself a seat as I walked quite some distance along to get an unobstructed view.

12:30:36 View from our balcony of the courtyard and pool of the Opera Plaza Hotel

13:43:38 Opera Plaza Hotel, entrance

13:55:10 High Atlas Mountains, seen approximately to the south from Avenue Mohammed VI, Marrakesh

13:56:24 High Atlas Mountains, seen approximately to the south from Avenue Mohammed VI, Marrakesh

13:57:26 Avenue Mohammed VI, Marrakesh

13:58:18 Sculpture on Avenue Mohammed VI, Marrakesh

13:59:04 Avenue Mohammed VI, Marrakesh, view in the opposite direction to 13:57:26

14:06:36 Park on Avenue Mohammed VI, Marrakesh

14:08:04 Park on Avenue Mohammed VI, Marrakesh

14:09:02 Théâtre Royal, on the corner of Avenue Mohammed VI and Avenue Hassan II, Marrakesh, across Avenue Mohammed VI from our hotel

We went back to the hotel room briefly. We only had ca.50 dirhams left, and Janet suggested we go out and get a couple of soft drinks. I figured we’d be able to do that at McDonald’s, so we turned left out of the hotel, crossed Avenue Hassan II, and went to the one just beyond the entrance to the Gare de Marrakech. For 40 dirhams we got a large Coke Light for Janet and a chilli burger, fries and a medium Coke Light for me. Then we had a look round the Gare de Marrakech. Very impressive, especially considering the fewness of the trains departing from there. Janet looked in the shop where she’d previously bought drinks and bought a bookmark with Arabic calligraphy for 10 dirhams of our remaining 12½.

14:38:14 Spending 40 of our last 52½ dirhams at the McDonald’s in Marrakesh railway station

14:53:12 Marrakesh railway station

14:55:24 Marrakesh railway station

14:55:38 Marrakesh railway station

14:57:22 Marrakesh railway station

14:57:22 — detail

14:58:20 Marrakesh railway station

15:02:56 Marrakesh railway station

15:03:06 Marrakesh railway station

15:12:20 Marrakesh railway station (“Gare de Marrakech”)

15:15:30 A view more easterly towards the High Atlas Mountains
“The city lies some fifteen or twenty miles from the foot of the Atlas mountains, which here rise to their grandest proportions. The spectacle of the mountains is superb. Through the clear desert air the eye can follow the rugged contours of the range for great distances to the north and eastward. The winter snows mantle them with white, and the turquoise sky gives a setting for their grey rocks and gleaming caps that is of unrivalled beauty” (Barrows, David Prescott (2004): Berbers And Blacks: Impressions Of Morocco, Timbuktu And The Western Sudan. Kessinger Publishing. p.73 — quoted in Wikipedia).

We returned and relaxed in our room for ca.1¾ hours till we had to go down with our cases at 5pm. I wondered whether our appearing with luggage and returning our door-key cards to reception later rather than earlier would be a giveaway that we’d gone against instructions, but no one appeared to notice; there were no comments or “looks”.
 Janet wrote: “At 5.30pm we set off for Marrakesh Airport. It was a lot quicker getting through Passport Control.” Both Janet and I had tripod seats; Janet’s was shorter than mine, and was short enough to be strapped to the side of my rucksack and not exceed the length restrictions for hand-luggage. I didn’t realise this on the outward journey, so didn’t have it when I needed it. Now that I had it, I didn’t need it.
 “Before our flight,” Janet continued, “we just had time to buy something to eat [but] we discovered we could only use dirhams (not enough left) or euros, so I had a right hoo-ha exchanging some sterling for euros! I’d not eaten all day. We had a hot panino each. It was filled with “ham”, mozzarella and tomato and was absolutely yummy.… Then we boarded the plane and it left early.… We landed in Manchester at 11.25pm, ahead of schedule.” Then there was the long walk to Passport Control. There was quite a bit of waiting till the baggage-claim carousel started up. There were the usual moronic types crowding near it, as if that would make their luggage arrive sooner. Our luggage appeared fairly quickly so I squeezed past them to get it, and when we got outside we found one taxi waiting. We arrived at our destination ca.12.30am. The layout of the Premier Inn looked unfamiliar; this one was “Runger Lane North”, so was the one we previously stayed at “Runger Lane South”? When I asked her, the receptionist told me that she was on duty till 7am. On arrival in our room, I made myself a cup of coffee, then we dropped into bed without cleaning teeth.

[Wednesday 26 March 2014]

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