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Marrakech part 2

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bit belated, but let’s get back to Marrakech and give a more upbeat take on my trip there.

Truth is it started rather frustratingly. Marrakech is a huge city and trying to find my way to the hotel was ‘difficult’, to say the least. I made the mistake of trusting a local guy on a moped, who when I told him the name of my hotel (Hotel Essaouira) assured me he could take me there, ‘no problem’. After an hour of being taken through the streets I ditched him and finally found the area I was supposed to be in, but not my hotel. I inquired at another and was given a price of 150 dh, well above what I pay and so negotiated a price of 100 dh. As I was sorting my stuff into the room, a friendly English speaking Dutchman offered his assistance and we got chatting…

Sweet Moroccan tea, love it!

Sam (the Dutchman) was in Marrakech for the marathon. A keen cyclist, we swapped stories and shared a meal together, strolling onto the main square and eating at one of the food stalls, something I would not have done on my own. I was very inspired listening to Sam, as his passion for competition so much reminded me of how I used to be and he also suffered from the same doubts, which we discussed in detail. It’s strange how the people I’ve met so far on this trip all seem to be (or have been) affected by depression and self doubts and I feel that it is no coincidence that I am crossing paths with them.

At just 4 dh a glass, we both drank lots of juice!

It was good to share time with Sam as the trip has been pretty lonesome this last few weeks. I decided to stay on in Marrakech until after the marathon, primarily so that I could take photos of Sam taking part in the event and offer what limited support I could. His main goal was to break the 3 hour barrier and after our discussions I think he was in the right mindset to do so.

Come the day of the marathon (Sunday) and there was no doubt in my mind, he was totally focused and as we say ‘in the zone’.

Sam at the start, totally focused and ‘in the zone’

It was great to see and as I watched the competitors start, he set off at a good pace (a little too quick initially, but then got into his race pace) and I made my way back to the hotel. I would return later as he finished the event.

First off were the wheelchair athletes.

It was difficult getting into a position to take pictures at the finish, as there were so many people up against the railings. I manged to grab a couple of shots, but nothing spectacular…

Still focused and cruising home, the target easily met.

I was well pleased and although I couldn’t find Sam at the finish amongst the 6,000 people, we both celebrated later. He had smashed his PB and finished in a time of 2:54, but more importantly had remained fully in control all through the race.

I have made a new friend and I know we will stay in contact, because I’m sure we can both help each other as we move forward. This really makes up for the low point I initially felt about Marrakech and truth is I did get so much out of the city. Another lasting impression will be the Rastafarian who ran the cafe next to the hotel, no surprise he’s a Bob Marley fan who went on to tell us that is how he learned English, from the songs. He was a complete mountain biker and runs tours in the mountains and also is involved in teaching, giving back to the community. I do hope one day I may return and take him up on his offer of showing me the best trails, it would be nice to see Morocco on holiday!

More soon when we come up to date in the next post…

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