Thursday, 2 May 2013

On the Marrakesh express

This is most unlike me. Us. It's most unlike us.

For a number of years, our idea of a holiday has been quite simple and described using these five words: get away from it all.

Quite what It All is, we've never been quite sure. But we aim to distance ourselves from it at least once a year. So our holidays have involved going somewhere quiet, relatively private and lacking in both hussle and bustle. Climate doesn't enter into the equation.

There's a reason why we're not fussy about the weather at our intended destination. I am, by nature, north-west European and don't go in for heat. Warm weather is just so damned un-British. You get all sweaty and unpleasant. You have to worry about what the sun's doing to your pearly white flesh. I have Irish ancestors. We don't worship the sun, we run away from it in fear.

An early holiday with Katie, not long after we got together, saw us spending some time on a beach. And while she went a deep golden brown, I opted for Shade of Lobster and spent a significant proportion of the next fortnight screaming, "Don't touch me!" in a strangulated falsetto.

Which is not what you want to be saying in the early stages of a relationship.

So if, on holiday, I look out of the window to see rain lashing down, I generally say, "Marvellous," out loud,  reach for a good book and put some John Martyn on the stereo. I am a man of simple, temperate tastes.

Which is why it's all the more puzzling that we've booked two weeks in Morocco in June.

I've checked and, yes, this is an African country. It's bordering the Sahara desert. We'll be just outside Marrakesh, home of the beguiling Jemaa el-Fnaa, the busiest market square in the continent.  A heady mixture of spices, souks, mosques and ancient, history-soaked streets await us. We'll have the Atlas Mountains off in one direction, home of ancient Berber tribes. I will eat quite a lot of lamb dishes.

All of which sounds lovely. But I'm going to melt.

I'm told that everywhere will have air-conditioning. It's a modern country, after all. But you still have to walk from one air-conditioned bit to another air-conditioned bit. And I don't think the ancient souk is going to be quite so well-equipped. Thinking about it, in order to be respectful to the locals, it occurs to me that you need to cover up a little bit. So the Speedos are out of the question, which, on reflection, is probably a good thing.

I've just looked at the temperature for Marrakesh. A couple of hours ago, in the early evening, it was a balmy 26 degrees celsius, or 79 degrees in old money. But with undisguised glee, Katie tells me that she's researched the typical daytime temperature for June. By all accounts, 40 (104 in fahrenheit) is about par for the course.

Seriously. I am going to melt.

The famed Berber storytellers, who gather in the market square at night, are going to have a new tale to tell. About the pale ghost from the north who simply burst into flames one day.

This should be interesting.

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