This proven to be one of the most testing days that I have ever had whilst travelling.
We started with a morning free of lessons, most people decided to do a bit of shopping. Juliette was propositioned by quite a few men in the street. The bluntness of their Approaches was quite unsettling for her and caused a little unrest. We saw her back at the hotel have g embarked on a little retail therapy and arriving back with a huge tajin!
My own shopping consisted of a crystal that is used as a deodorant and a small porcelain drum. I fear I may have got a small boy in trouble as he may have sold it too cheaply. I paid a little over ���1 and his opening habit would have been Around ���10. With haggling I’d have expected to pay around ���5. We made the deal and a man came out of the store asked me how much I pAid, shook my hand and then started berating the poor boy.
In the afternoon we headed to the port to try out documentary blank and White shots. I really enjoyed this style of photography and I’m very pleased with the images I produce. I think this could be my niche.
Unfortunately, the afternoon was somewhat soured. At the port I met a man named Hassan who would act as a guide for me. We went around the port between boats , etc. The guy seemed genuine enough and we bumped into Kirsten who was shooting as well. She had met Hassan previously and had no problems with him.
When it was time to leave he asked me for ‘a little something for his family’. I was quite happy to give him a little money for acting as a guide. I put my hand in my pocket to get a 20Dr note. But when I did this Hassan grabbed my wrist and grabbed all the notes from my pocket. I had been to the bank earlier to get money for the night, so this was about ���50. He shoved the notes into his pocket and started to wAlk away. I grabbed his shoulders and pushed him against a wall. I put my hand into his pocket and grabbed all the cash I could feel. Unfortunately, this turned out to be about 400Dr (���40), meaning that he got away with ���10. In the long term that is nothing, but I was so annoyed. Amazingly he started to walk after me demanding money. I basically told him to fuck off. I can’t imagine what his thought process was. I’m twice his size and a good foot and a half taller then him. How had he expected me to react? To laugh it off?
Jon and Mike said that I handled it well and at least I got most of the money back. They were apologetic and quite taken aback for the bad experience and it was the first time on one of their trips that something like this had happened. It was of course not their fault in any way at all. I think they’ve been brilliant with the organisation of the trip. There is no way that they could predict that this would be the day that someone decided to be an idiot. The fact is that there are always dangers whilst travelling, and sometimes bad things happen. In the short term I’m down a few quid, in the long term I have a story for the pub.
In the evening we had a Moroccan cooking lesson from a woman named Zora. We were taken into the Market to buy the ingredients for a chicken tajine. Veg was bought fresh and we also bought apricots and prunes.
We then went to get the chicken.
The more squeamish of the group stayed in the street as a few of us went into the small square where the animals are kept and slaughtered. We went to a small stand with hundreds of live chickens. Zora selected a couple and the butcher pulled them out.
First he broke the wings of each chicken to prevent it from struggling. Then he weighed them. Once satisfied he held the chicken upside down and slit their throats with a long knife. The chickens were then placed into funnels with collected to blood. Only the chickens legs were visible sticking out of the funnels. The legs and feet thrashed about for a surprisingly long time before they finally succumbed.
The butcher then removed the chickens from the funnels and placed them into what appeared to be a giant sander. This removed the feathers from the birds. He then took his knife and slit the birds lengthways removing their innards. Finally he chopped the birds into quarters, wrapped them and handed the now prepared birds to Zora.
The above may sound gruesome, but it was over in a matter of minutes. The killing of the birds took seconds. As a consumer of meat, I think that it is important to remember that they were once living creatures. Chicken, beef etc does not magically arrive in the cellophane wrApped packages we see in supermarkets. This was an ideal reminder.
We then went to Zora’s school. We grated the veg and cooked them. The Prunes and apricots were prepared and stuffed with chopped almonds, peanuts , cinnamon And a little orange water. The chicken was placed int the huge earthenware tajin and put on a cooking fire inside the room. After a while the fruit was added. We also made samosa like triangles of Filofax pastry stuffed with veg, cheese and mashed potato.
After what seemed an eternity the food was ready and it was very good. Best tajine that I’ve had yet. Claudia was not feeling at all well by this point and had to head back to the hotel, whichwas a real shame as she and Juliette had made loads of the little samosas, but she never go to eat any! Afterwards those of us that weren’t after an early night headed to Taros for a few drinks before retiring at midnight.
I’m in the middle of a three hour drive to Marrakech, and writing this on my iPhone (hence the occasional crazy spelling). Marrakech is supposedly even more manic then Essenoria. God knows how I’ll react to the crowds when I arrive, but right now I just want to get out of this boiling hot van and have some cold water before I completely dehydrate!