|Who needs Bogart anyway?|
The man at the ticket office suggested a place called Benguerir instead of Casablanca. Little disappointing for our silver screen dreams, but only fifty minutes away instead of a trek longer than our flight home.
'Is there much to do there?' MD asked hopefully.
The Ticket Man laughed. 'No! You stay for one hour. Then you come back.'
We looked at each other. It was 60 Dirhams for the two of us - about five quid - so we decided to give it a go.
Our train was divided into carriages that had been tacked together from what appeared to be the wrecks of six or seven different trains. We found a six-seater compartment that seemed to be women only. It was hugely genteel. Second Class, where we sat, boasted air conditioning. Outside, a couple of little boys played football up and down the corridor. MD helped a lady to put her bag into the rack, unhappily cutting her finger in the process. (I only found this out later. MD - not wanting to turn her kindly gesture into a possible litigation issue - discreetly mopped the blood away.)
The landscape as we travelled was oddly similar to Courcheval, albeit red-brown, rather than snow-covered. Scraggy trees were dotted about and the occasional donkey, but hardly any other signs of life. MD fretted about us riding blindly into the middle of nowhere and some 'one-horse town', a phrase not heard since the days of the Wild West.
An hour later, we were there. Leaving the station we found: nothing. The train station was in fact a short journey from the air base, so there weren't even shiny guns to look at. The place was deserted apart from a cart-driver and his one horse. MD, chuffed about her earlier use of Wild West terminology, bought our tickets for the return journey and then went outside to hire the cart. It had gone.
|Majorelle or Oundelle?|
On arrival back in Marrakech, we headed to Yves Saint Laurent's garden, the Majorelle, for a bit of shade, some cheery pottery and an ice cream. Inspired by the sunshine and (I suspect) heatstroke, MD began making suggestions for a reinterpretation of the garden back in Oundle. In particular the colourful pots. It's true, they're charming, but I fear they wouldn't stand up to English countryside climate.
Making the compulsory scoot round Yves' gift shop, it felt as though we'd wandered into the Armani store in Milan in boardshorts. The shop assistants tittered dismissively when we asked how much something cost and, when I dared to pick an artefact up with my hand, one came up to stand so close behind me that I could hear him breathing. I smiled at him, flung the little wallet casually back amongst its fellows - completely destroying the clean lines of the display - and accidentally trod on his foot as I withdrew to reorganise their soap presentation. MD, for her part, snuck up behind him to stand in his way as he retreated, causing another completely accidental collision.
Having satisfied our anarchic urges, we left - not even shutting the door behind us.