Our Marrakech stint ended early Tuesday. Steve, Shawn and James are headed back to the States by way of a Madrid overnight stint. Dick is staying in Madrid until Friday. Cridlin is vacationing in Barcelona until Sunday. Bon journee!
And then there were six...
Jen, Bill, Roger, Willie, Smiley and me are Fes bound to experience more of Morocco. We board the "Marrakech Express" for the seven hour trip. Following a Moroccan recommendation, we spend an extra few bucks to go first class. We are seated in one compartment. The 'compartment' ends up being six seats facing each other with tables. The aisle splits 4 seats and the remaining pair. Once the conductor checks our tickets we spread out more. The ride is comfortable and relaxing! The refreshment cart comes through hourly with sandwiches, snacks, juice, and coffee. The coffee served in Morocco is primarily espresso. Whenever possible, I order it with milk, which is steaming hot. Cafe au lait! ooh-la-la! Starbucks can suck it! ;)
The only issue of traveling by train is the W/C aka bathrooms. If this is what the first class travelers are using, coach must be sharing a bucket. It's rustic to say the least. To say more, I was at least pleased that there was toilet paper. It's dingy! The space is raw as if they spent all the renovation money on the train car and skimped on the toilets. I'm drinking a large bottle of water throughout the trip so I make the unpleasant visit... 5 times. Smiley brought hand sanitizer (smart travel accessory). I bathe in it each time during the recovery period.
The seven hour landscape continually changes. We see shepherds guarding their flocks. Little towns mixed in with "District 9" compounds. From the mountains to a mini carnival to the sea, the view was ever-changing. The biggest surprise is that the country side is green. I expected the train ride to be more Lawrence-of-Arabia-English-Patient-Out-of-Africa. No sand!
March 8th is International Women's Day! Who knew? The train conductor gives Jen and me a rose and greeting card. America, step up! This IS a perfect holiday!
FES: We dodge a plethora of *helpful* guides/cab drivers. The riad has sent a driver to collect us. During the drive to the riad, the change of pace is evident. Marrakech is similar to the wild debauchery of New Orleans' French Quarter.... but instead of exposing for beads, you cover up to avoid snakes. Fes can be compared to the quaint and cleaner version of the French Quarter at Disneyworld. Unlike Marrakech, there are kids everywhere. Inside the medina (within the walls), kids are singing and playing. Men are sitting in the outdoor cafes. People have gathered in the square to watch the fountains change color. The pace is gentler and slower.
The corridors to the riad are isolated without many businesses to even mark the path home. Not the chaos of Marrakech but definitely double confusing. The riad manager sends her daughter with us to run errands. It feels very safe but that's a Moroccan mirage. It takes a nine year old's comment translated by Jen to bring me back to reality. My new Mac Air is calling attention to potential robbers. I wrap it up in a shirt to avoid local interest. No snakes but apparently their slimy counterparts.