Morocco, it feels like coming home (Saturday 4th August) We’re finally in the air. There was a moment or two there I didn’t think it was going to happen. What with all the traffic on the way up to Gatwick, worrying if Mattie Matiz would get us there, then arriving to find our meet and greet wasn’t there waiting for us, despite my phone call when we got to the M23 to let them know we were nearly there. Then there was the departure gate debacle.
We’d had our lattes, been to the loo, bought our water and sweets for the flight (don’t start tutting now, you have to have sweets for the flight to stop your ears popping. Ok so technically you don’t have to have Minstrels as well as fruit sweets you can suck but I did share with The Commando), we’d even had a cursory look at the duty free but our flight still wasn’t showing on the board even though the gate was due to have opened. The Commando gets a bit antsy when things don’t happen with military precision and, after a little while, he sent me off to check out another board in case the one we were sitting under wasn’t working properly (as if that would actually happen but I like to humour him). I left him where he was and went across the departure lounge, arriving just in time to see the Agadir flight change from ‘gate opens at 15:07‘ to ‘waiting.’ I turned to look at The Commando and he was walking towards me so I didn’t bother hanging about to see what gate it was going to change to just started back in his direction.
“It’s gate 107,” he said marching off with me following at his heels. “Typical it’s always one of the furthest gates.” We speed walked down the moving walkway (I know it would be more exercise if I hadn’t but I’d never have kept up with The Commando otherwise), down the escalator, not standing still of course because he thinks it’s a race to get there for some reason, along another walkway, still at top speed, down a corridor, round the corner and then there it was, gate 107. Whew, we were the first ones there too! But, as we got nearer we could see the sign didn’t say Agadir, it said Antalya. What was going on?
I asked the woman at the gate, “Why does it say Antalya and not Agadir?”
She looked at me like I was an idiot, “Because the flight is for Antalya not Agadir.” “But the board in departures said gate 107 for Agadir.”
“No, it’s definitely Antalya. The flight has just finished boarding,” she said slowly, as if to a particularly dim child.
“Is the next one for Agadir then? The board did say gate 107,” I said hopefully. Notice at no point did I ever consider that The Commando could have been wrong. I was convinced either the woman was or the board was.
“That’s impossible,” she said, looking a little contemptuous now. “I’ll just ring to see which gate the Agadir flight is going from.” You guessed it, it was right at the other end of the airport, gate 48. Not only had we dashed all that way for nothing but now we had to dash all the way back again, against the flow of traffic and with no moving walkways or escalators (given that they were all going the wrong way).
Of course The Commando was even more worked up by this time, absolutely convinced we would miss our flight or not get our speedy boarding. Now we were all but running (I think he would have been running if I wasn’t there slowing him down) until we finally got back to the departure lounge. I took a glance at the board as we whizzed past it and can confirm it did actually say gate 48. Oh well, there was me saying I wasn’t going to get much in the way of exercise today. How wrong could I have been?
By the time we actually made into our correct gate (the second people to arrive) I was boiling hot and stripping off layers of clothing. I’m actually typing this on my iPad at thirty odd thousand feet, looking down on clouds and blue sky over somewhere or other (I have no idea what country is below right now, Spain I would guess). The Commando is asleep in his window seat and the man next to me is watching a film on his iPad. In a minute I’m going to have a little catch up with Mr Grey on my Kindle as I haven’t had time to do any reading for a while. How times have changed eh? Not so very long ago if you wanted to write something on a plane you had a pen and paper. If you wanted to read you had a suitcase full of paperbacks. Maybe I’m becoming a techie.
There is something about this country that stole my heart the first time I came here, more years ago than I care to admit to, and every time I come back it feels like I’m coming home. The smells, the sounds, the people they all make my heart sing. We got to our hotel, The Royal Atlas, just as the sun had gone down. The streets were deserted because it’s Ramadan and, as soon as the sun goes down, everyone goes home to break the fast. During the thirty days of Ramadan no food or drink is allowed from sun up to sun down and the days are supposed to be spent thinking about Allah, going to the mosque to pray the required five times a day (five times a day is normal all the time but not everyone does, in much the same way as not everyone goes to church on Sunday at home).
You’d think that thirty days of fasting all day would be very good for those who would like to lose a few pounds wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong. Often people actually put weight on during Ramadan because, once the sun goes down, they all rush home and have a big feast, often eating far more than they would have done if they’d eaten three normal meals during the day.
There’s a lesson in this for dieters. If you get too strict with yourself, eat hardly anything for breakfast and lunch, come dinner time you’re likely to be so famished you’ll find yourself having a big binge. Better to spread the calories throughout the day more evenly and make sure you don’t get too hungry. Also, if you don’t eat enough, your body can go into starvation mode, it literally thinks you’re starving and tries to conserve every calorie it can. You don’t have enough energy to exercise plus your body is working against you and burning as little as it can manage. It a recipe for weigh in disaster. Despite trying so hard and eating so little you don’t lose weight. To avoid this pitfall, do your research and find out how many calories you need to eat a day for your height and weight to lose a sensible amount each week (no more than two pounds) and make sure you actually eat them. If you’re exercising too, take that into account. It’s useful to find out how many extra calories you’re burning (there are plenty of online resources to help with this) and ensure you eat at least half of these too.
Anyway, lecture over. I’ve just had a nice walk along the promenade in front of the beach, sat for a while in Camel Cafe (our favourite haunt) with a diet coke and then a coffee (have to make sure I’m drinking enough out here, especially as flying is very dehydrating) and enjoyed watching the world go by with my Commando. We’re back in our room now, sitting on the balcony, listening to the sea and looking out over the pool and the beach, which is floodlit at night. I’m going to go for a nice long walk in the morning and see if there is still free wifi on the beach (we couldn’t see when we were out there earlier which is worrying. I don’t really want to pay hotel prices). If you’re reading this there obviously was. Best get to bed now.
A walk on the beach (Sunday 5th August)
The Commando is not going to let me sit around on this holiday, that’s for sure. After breakfast (three little croissants with loads of coffee and fresh orange juice in case you’re wondering) we went for a walk along the promenade to the point where it turns towards the harbour at the end. We then walked right down to the hard sand along the water’s edge, all the way back along the beach to the point where it turns again then back up the promenade to our hotel. Apparently, according to his Garmin this was seven point two kilometres, I’m not sure what that is in real money but it must be heading towards the five mile mark. It took an hour and a quarter. We did stop to grab some bottles of water in one of the little shops along the way. It’s very warm so water is of prime importance.
While we were walking we saw an elderly man walking along the edge of the surf who actually made my mad walking style look normal! You may find this hard to believe, I know The Commando did, but I promise you it’s true. He was marching along in his swim shorts and with each step he swung alternate arms right up over his head. To think The Commando has been moaning at me all these years for swinging my arms too much. He was moving at a fair old lick too, faster than us, although we weren’t going at top speed. Good on him I say, he didn’t care what he looked like and was obviously doing it to keep fit. I have to say, for a man who looked to be in his seventies, he was in pretty good shape. There is a lesson in there somewhere I think.
After our walk we shared a pizza at Camel Cafe and took on some more water. The whole beach front is lined with cafes and restaurants but we keep going back to Camel because the service is so friendly. Another reason is that the beach front wifi seems to have disappeared (maybe the hotels didn’t like it because people weren’t paying for their wifi) and Camel has reasonably good free wifi. I forgot to take my iPad with me at lunch time but I will be taking it later so I can post this. The waiter recognised us from last May and was very attentive (although that could have something to do with the blonde hair). He spotted The Commando’s running magazine and they had a bit of a chat about that. Moroccans love to run and the beach is full of them in the mornings before the sea mist has burnt off and later, when the sun has gone down. I joked that Commando was built like a Moroccan Man, tall and slim with long runners legs, and that that was the only reason I’d married him in the first place. As we were leaving, I was presented with a little bunch of sweet smelling roses. I was quite touched.
We wanted to spend the afternoon by the pool but towels had been liberally spread around, although there was no evidence of any towel owners in a lot of cases. It seems the Russians have taken over from the Germans in the bagging the sun longers game. Personally, I prefer the Germans, at least they’re cultured and not rude (both to hotel staff and other guests) although, with the huge men and their nineteen seventies fashion sense plus the extremely remodelled (plastic surgery must be a favourite Russian pass time), very thin but top heavy women, we have something amusing to watch at least. Eventually we found two sun beds, a little far from the pool bar and pool but we didn’t really mind that and we spent a lazy afternoon with me reading Mr Grey’s third book and Commando snoozing and occasionally picking up his running magazine. I think I may get up early and spread some towels out tomorrow.