Monday, 19 October 2009


After our little adventure to the souk that had gone slightly awry we started to spend a lot of time at one of the best hotels in Taroudannt, the Palais Salam, where it was possible to use one of the two swimming pools free if you purchased a meal or a few drinks. Though it was now early June the heat could still be quite a challenge for pale folk from England, which meant the cool water in the pleasant surroundings of a luxury hotel was a welcome escape from the more difficult environment outside.

The hotel is set in the beautiful gardens of a 19th-century pasha’s residence in the kasbah, and surrounded by the substantial walls that would have once provided good protection for citizens of the town, but now pigeons are the main occupants of many small holes in the crumbling battlements.

There was no way we could afford to stay at this particular establishment, but for a few hours every day could pretend that we were part of some privileged elite, while the local population worked very hard to scrape a living beyond the historic walls.

‘This is the life.’

‘It makes our accommodation look rather shabby’ Jess replied.

‘I don’t feel so bad about yesterday’s little episode.’

‘Well, nothing really awful happened.’

‘Apart from ‘losing’ about one hundred quid.’

A smartly-dressed waiter brought the tray of coffee and Moroccan patisserie to our table by the main pool; I don’t know what they thought about tourists, but they always remained very polite and attentive, even though they must have realised we were not really the big spenders they were trying to encourage.

‘I didn’t see the Australian girl this morning’ Jess said.

‘Do you think she’s gone home already ?’

‘Either that, or the she’s still here with the charity worker.’

‘How are you expected to just go home and get on with your life after a tragedy like that ?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘All you can do is keep getting up every morning and try to follow a familiar routine.’

I watched a large stork flying quite low over the hotel, returning with some nest material to the trees not far away; even though there were many positive aspects to life in Morocco, I couldn’t help feeling that everything was tainted by human grime and the struggle for existence in a harsh, dry land, except for these majestic birds able to rise above everything on currents of hot air, like feathered pterodactyls surviving into a world of petrol fumes and the stench of dead flesh drifting from the nearby tannery.

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