We had a trip to Morocco in mind for some years, since Frances used to go there on buying trips for Moussa, the wholesaler she worked for in Cambridge. So we hatched a plan.
It turned out to be the most enjoyable and relaxing of holidays. Frances knew the country, she planned the trip from a guidebook I’d bought and booked all the hotels – all with swimming pools except for our riad in Fez. And she and Marc did all the driving and navigating. We went to parts that were new to her, however. From Fez we went across the Atlas Mountains and south into the desert, then west along the south side of the mountains, across to Marrakesh and back along the northern flank to Fez.
I’m glad we went now because Morocco is changing. Everywhere we went there were signs of property development – half finished apartments blocks, new suburbs and development plots. But Morocco still feels authentic – women in bright Berber costume riding donkeys loaded with fodder, families out for an evening stroll, women washing clothes in the river. Even the importuning stallholders and merchants seemed more polite and agreeable than in other touristy places we’ve been.
Everyone we met was invariably friendly and helpful. And it was a pleasure to speak bad French without being sneered at.
Malachi was a good traveller, rarely complaining about the long car stints. In the car, he listened to an audio book or Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. It was hard to prise his earphones off him, but once we got him to river or wherever he was delighted to throw stones or chase frogs and to guide us round the maze of alleys in Fez or buy a wool jacket for himself or a pair of baggy, multi-coloured harem pants.
The high points of the trip were our night in the desert, the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakesh and and the oasis of Fintt.