It's yet another blue skies and sunshine day in Morocco! So that makes it a T-shirt and shorts day too!
We decide to start off with a stroll along the beach. Our target is the half-submerged ruined fort in the sand at the far end of the beach that I seem to recall a holiday programme a few weeks ago mentioning was the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix's 'Spanish Castle Magic.' I've no idea if that is true but it gives us something interesting to aim for.
I'm not really one for lying around on a beach doing nothing all day long. I can manage for small spells but will generally get restless and have to be doing something.
As we walk I think back over the past week and the diversity of the places we have been too. We've slept in the desert, stayed in the mountains, wandered around bustling Marrakech and now here we are, on a gorgeous day, chilled out walking along the beach with a refreshing breeze. So cool!
Seeing that it is a Saturday, there are a lot of families out on the beach. We pass a section where there is a basketball court being used to play a frantic game of football by the local lads. Further along we come to a section where we spot our first sunbathing Westerners. It's only a small section, obviously associated with a hotel or resort behind the beach on the other side of the road that runs alongside. But thankfully this isn't a resort town, so no high rise hotels along the beachfront to spoil the view.
It's all a very laid back place. Everyone seems happy to be here and it's easy to see why. We pass a few other people out for a stroll, just like us. There are also a few horses being ridden up and down. At one point we reach a guy who's trying to sell camel rides along the beach. Well, it certainly makes a change from donkey rides at Blackpool! It was all a bit too touristy for me though and with the memories of the bruises from our rides in the desert still fresh in our minds, we politely declined.
We eventually reached the end of the beach to discover that the only way onward to reach the ruined fort would have been to wade across a small peninsular to reach the beach on the other side where the fort was. Oh well! We didn't really fancy getting wet as we has already checked out of the hotel, so I settled for a few long shots of the fort from where we were.
We then strolled back, politely declining an old geezer on his camel with two baby camels wanting money for photos of his "bebe-s." Instead I take a sneaky one as we walk away with my camera facing behind me!
It's still rather hot and we are a bit parched so we sit outside a cafe by the beach and I get text updates from my mate who's at a Liverpool-Everton game that I was supposed to be at but hadn't realised that the date clashed with my holiday. Suffice to say, the weather was a lot nicer where I was!
We then head back to the main part of town and wander through the narrow streets taking the odd photo here and there. Paul mentions that there is a slightly dodgy part of town with a bit of a drug-related problem (according to Lonely Planet) so we try our best to avoid this. At one point we do spot someone rushing past us obviously completely stoned, his eyes saucer-like in shape and gibbering to himself. Later on, looking at the town map we realise that we had in fact walked straight through the area that we had intended to avoid. So much for sense of direction!
We then visit the small fort overlooking the harbour. It's something like a pound to get in and you get some great all round views from the top. There appears to be a school trip visiting at the same time as us so we have to jostle our way past hordes of kids who are trying to grab all the best viewpoints.
After all this, it's nice to sit down and grab a light lunch in a local cafe watching the world go by.
Then, once again, it's time to ascend the steps of our compact and bijou mini-bus and the journey away from paradise into the mad hustle and bustle that is Marrakech.
The journey back appears to go faster to me but Sarah, who is sat in front of me, still succeeds in doing a really good job of falling asleep in places where nobody else could. I correctly guess that her head is going to loll to the left first.
We find ourselves back at the same hotel that we left a day earlier (though it now seems longer than a day) but not in the same rooms, which is a relief as I won't have to be wrestling with the fold up camp bed anymore. In fact our room even has a small suite attached with a sofa and armchair pushed into the corner. Thankfully we also have hot water (some people didn't the last time we were here) though the toilet is in a separate room from the shower and sink, which is a bit unusual.
We pop out to a local off license around the corner. This turns out to be and unmarked shop down a set of dingy looking stairs into the basement of a building. A bunch of local men are just coming out as we head down and one of them makes a big point of showing me all the booze that he has bought. "You rebel," I thought.
Before the sun sets we head off to the main square. It's even busier than it was the last time we were here. There are a lot more events going on too with crowds around each. We watch a boxing match; see snake charmers, acrobats and performing monkeys. We avoid taking pictures of any of the animal-related entertainments as we have read that they all have sad, cruel lives and we don't want to encourage that type of tourism. Unfortunately lots of others in the square have no such reservations.
As it's our last night together as a group, Mohammed books dinner for us in a restaurant by the main square. It's basically an “eat as much as you like” buffet affair but the food is good.
We realise afterwards that weirdly, given that it's the last night, nobody thinks to get a group photo. The streets bustle with activity. It's a warm, muggy evening and we slowly stroll back to the hotel after to walk off the food.
Unfortunately, it's going to be a relatively early start the next day as we need to get to the airport with a few hours to spare.