Tuesday 1st June, Larache, Morocco.
This will be my last update from Larache. I had intended to move on to Meknes this morning, but made a last minute decision to stay here for one more night, in spite of not getting much sleep so far due to a noisy group of Moroccans who seem to occupy every room on the second floor, with the exception of mine. It seems even they get confused, and on a couple of occasions, have tried my door handle in the middle of the night. Also, all the clothes in my backpack were dirty, and I didn't fancy heading off to Meknes in stinky clothes. The cleaning lady here at the hotel has taken my laundry, I'm assuming it'll be ready in the morning. There I go assuming again!
Anyway, I figured that if I spend one more whole day working on my book, I can put it away for a while and come back to it next week again. I remember reading somewhere that if you want to make a living out of travel writing, you must remember that 'travel' comes first, and 'writing' comes second, meaning that you don't want to fall into the trap of spending so much time writing, that you're not really doing anything to write about. Good advice, I'd say. One of the main reasons I came to Morocco was to 'get away from it all' and finish my book, but now that I'm here I realize that there is so much more to experience, and spending the whole day in my hotel room, or in an internet cafe isn't the way to see Morocco. Having said that, I've spent the entire day today in my room and in the internet cafe!
I received an email from Danny, a great old mate of mine, asking me if I could retrieve his baseball cap, which he lost here in Larache about ten years ago. He and his then girlfriend (now wife, and expecting! Congratulations Danny and Anna!) were in Larache, and decided to go for a walk out to the cemetery that overlooks the sea. I can see the cemetery fom where I sit and drink tea. When they walked to the cliff edge, they were accosted by a group of deadbeats who grabbed at Danny's camera, and when they failed to wrench that off him, they made off with his cap. I know it was his favourite cap, but I don't think I'll be venturing out to that cemetery. I can get into enough trouble, without going looking for it!
Yesterday I caught a local bus out to the ancient Roman ruins of Lixus, about five kilometres out of town. The ruins themselves have been overgrown and left to crumble over the years, and the once impressive mosaics have either been vandalised or moved to a museum in Tetouan. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to wander amongst the old bulidings, past what was once the citadel, and around the ampitheatre, the one section that was still relatively intact. I spent a couple of hours there, just wandering around the site, kicking over stones and scrawling 'The Savage woz 'ere' onto the ruins with a big thick red crayon. There wasn't another human being within miles, which added quite an eerie atmosphere to the ruins. When I'd had enough, I hitchhiked back into town in a minivan, giving the driver the three dirham that it would have cost me if I'd waited for the next bus.
By the time I got back to the hotel, I was hot and bothered and ready for a nice warm shower. The temperature hit thirty-six degrees again today, and although it was still pleasant near the water, you could feel it out at Lixus. In Morocco, showers aren't necessarily included in the price of your hotel room, as I discovered in Asilah. So I paid my ten dirham, ran a nice deep bath, and soaked for an hour. If I have to pay for the hot water, I'm going to get my money's worth. And I was so clean by the time I got out of the tub, I shouldn't need a bath again for a week!
Hunger pains grabbed me last night about nine o'clock and I went in search of nourishment, which isn't as easy as it sounds, since most of what appear to be restaurants are merely cafes, serving mint tea or coffee. I explored the city's bustling medina for the first time, and filled up on bits and pieces from the little stalls. One onion crepe, which was nicer than you'd imagine, one plain crepe with cheese, three big cookies, a pot of tea, and two flavoured milks and a big bottle of water to bring back to my room. Total cost: about £1.50, $US3, or $AUS4. And in stark contrast to Tangiers and Chefchaouen, the only hassling I've experienced here in Larache- if you could even call it that- is from some good natured but persistent shoeshine boys, and I got around that quickly by ditching my boots in favour of my sandals.