Our last day had arrived and we decided to take one final dive into the Moroccan culture.
We signed up for a cooking course recommended to us by our riad owner, Maddie.
Up bright and early we arrived to a rustic little riad down the road, fireplace heating up the room for us, kitchen equipment already out and coffee on the table - we were off to a great start. Greeted by our chefs for the day we together decided on 9 dishes to make.
We had skipped breakfast, for me this is unheard of, it's without a doubt my favourite meal. And Joe has the biggest appetite I've ever seen in my life, so we nodded gleefully and definitely weren't complaining about having lots of food! With recipes chosen and planned we were taught basic Arabic to use whilst getting the ingredients.
Our little dictionaries had our scribbles in and holding them tightly we headed out into the hustle and bustle of Marrakech's unseen markets.
Very different to the souks being more of a local, fresh produce market, the smells were overwhelming to say the least.
We went to the long stands selling fruit and vegetables first and it's wasn't easy to be heard, there's no 'first come first served' basis. It seemed like you just shouted, made a huge fuss and when they still ignored you just grab and start packing them which finally gets their attention.
We weren't very keen on this method and stood around for 10 minutes unsure what to make of the situation, I tried to look cute and innocent and it didn't seem to work. Eventually I attempted (poorly) to say a few words, the man smiled let out a smokers chuckle and must have grasped what I was trying to say as we got the right things. Guess I'm a natural linguist!
And as we got deeper, you could tell from the noises and the smell what was coming.
I glanced down at what was next on my list, 'chicken'.
I am a huge animal lover, and before this experience I would have sworn that it would have turned me vegetarian. But we were greeted by a friendly old chap, he could tell by the jaw opened look on mine and Joe's faces that this was definitely not something we were used to in our local Tesco Express.
Thankfully we didn't witness the killing but we returned 5 minutes later to be given a skinned chicken wrapped and bagged.
You can watch them, if your into that kind of stuff.
If I could, I would have bought all the rabbits and set them free.
After a good 20 minutes we hid in the spice shops to get away from the stenches, I tried to jump and get in Joe's picture. These are the best market stalls, they sell every imaginable spice, seasoning and oils.
Our whicker basket full we headed back. On the menu were some traditional dishes tajine, kefta, couscous and pastilla.
Joe started us off by making a fresh mint tea... (He's learning)
And dealt with the chicken...
I felt bad just watching so helped him out as sou chef.
The Berber Omelette was definitely a mutual favourite.
A delicious pumpkin mash with veg.
After all our food was ready we were left alone to eat our feast in their pretty courtyard. We had missed breakfast and were starving and proudly did a very good job, gobbled most of it up.
Following lunch I got a chance to play with a very pregnant friend, she was huge, about to pop. I hadn't touched any of the cats the whole holiday with Joe's strict instructions, he doesn't really understand the whole nature loving and nurturing vibe but had managed to sneak them some scraps from breakfast. This was a delight for me and we went back to visit her just before our flight the next morning, hoping to see kittens but she was still wobbling around aimlessly.
In food comas we rolled back to our riad for a few quick games of chess and drafts.
And as the sun began to set we went for our last dinner in Marrakech *weep weep* :'-(
We discussed how outrageous and amazing our trip had been.
Sadly we said goodbye to Marrakech, as a place my pictures and words will never do it justice, you just have to go. It's shocking but at the same time there is something very beautiful and magical about it.
Go with someone who you will have a laugh with and who will protect you from crazy motorcyclists. Embrace the culture, there are a lot of very poor people, and seeing how geniuinely happy 20p makes them is shocking. Beware, if you aren't brave, Marrakech and it's cultural beauty isn't for you.
It's a safe place, but be street wise and learn how to barter. Couples arguing over the price always goes down well. Knowing basic french and arabic is very useful too. You can use each other to tell a story to the seller. Something like good cop bad cop, I was the bad cop most often! My Grandpa gives the best advice, If someone offers you something for 100 dihram you say, "NO! 300!".
Also really enjoy the culture, stay in a riad not a hotel, try all their traditional dishes and definitely go to the spas.
A perfect holiday, thank you Morocco, you looked after us well!