It felt like it was going to be a long, hot drive to the coast and Essaouira, and the driver only had a few words of English and a big smile. The road out of Marrakech was very uninspiring, with human and ordinary junk scattered everywhere; perhaps if we’d gone first to the mountains it would have been a more delightful outlook.
We were both tired after an extremely early flight from Manchester, and I was particularly keen to get to the ancient riad accommodation and remove the black underwear barely concealed by Jess. She was nodding-off all the time, which was probably for the best as she wouldn’t have to witness the risky overtaking by our driver in the face of oncoming lorries and cars.
There were many police checkpoints on the route, but they always seemed to wave the tourist vehicles through, concentrating on giving the locals a hard time. Guns were always very prominent, and again I thought that it would not be a good idea to get on the wrong side of the law.
After a couple of sweaty hours in the back of a maxi-taxi, Jess asked the driver in her schoolgirl French if we could stop somewhere for refreshment. He was happy to break the journey, and after a further fifteen minutes we parked at a large hotel and restaurant complex.
‘I couldn’t have coped much longer in that vehicle.’
‘Nice to get a cold drink’ said Jess.
‘Not very exciting countryside so far.’
‘I hadn’t really noticed.’
‘No, you’ve actually been snoring at times !’
‘Don’t be ridiculous, a lady doesn’t snore.’
As far as I can remember the scenery after that stop was much improved as we left behind all traces of modern life, leaving only goats, a surprising number of trees in the arid landscape, and the occasional camel. With the boost given by our pit stop, and having finally worked out how to open the windows, we sped on through a unique and unfamiliar environment towards the Atlantic Ocean.
‘I’m excited about seeing the riad, it looked really special in the pictures.’
‘Do you think they’ll have all mod cons as well ?’ I wondered.
‘No, you’ll have to wash and crap in a bucket.........course they’ll have good facilities – it’s a luxury hotel.’
The driver eventually stopped again on the high road above Essaouira and the vast ocean, inviting us to admire the splendid view. It felt a long way from all the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, even though the drive had only taken about five hours, including the break for drinks. It was the last chance to take a breath of fresh air before once again being thrust into the chaos of a Moroccan town.