Nicholas Quirke was focused on relaxing and enjoying his last full day in Essaouira. This meant getting out the sketch book and sitting on the roof terrace in an attempt to render the skyline in pencil. It was not an easy task and he discovered his sense of perspective defeated him and when Kamal, who had kindly offered to go out to the Brigade to collect the Police report arrived with with Holly and the document, it seemed the perfect time to give up and go to get lunch. He asked Kamal where the post office was and they agreed to show him. Along the way he saw Hassam from the Vegan Restaurant he had frequented who treated him like his long lost Father. He had planned to eat there and after purchasing stamps and posting his postcards he returned and was treated royally. Holly and Kamalj joined him, they laughed about writing a series of children’s books ‘Holly Helps’, and ‘Kamal saves the Day’. When he left and said goodbye and paid he was given a wrist band and Hassam said goodbye as if he was parting forever from his father, Nicholas thought he might never escape from the embrace. More shopping, tea and capturing the final images of the beautiful, haunting city. As they prepared for their departure the next day there was a knock at the door. it was Kamal and Holly, bearing gifts of Fennel seed for Nicholas. How generous and kind. They stayed a while and Nicholas learned more about Holly’s skills and shown pictures of Kamal’s amazing mountain homeland but again he was tired and once they had left he retired to finish packing for the flight the next day. 

Nicholas Quirke was facing the inescapable truth that he invited chaos into his life and invariably drew those around him into it. He was looking forward to their morning at the Souk, apparently the largest of its kind in Morocco, at Had Ra. They were meeting Kamal and Holly at Bab Doukkala to get transport to the souk which was 25 Kilometers away. They got a taxi, it was sunny all looked positive. The market was phenomenal and quite unlike anything he had seen before. He noticed immediately that there was barely a woman in sight as they made their way down the street. This was clearly the domain of men and it was noisy,  It was crowded, noisy and full of astonishing sights and smells, as alien to him as the Hiedelberg Project in Detroit had been to him a year before. Everything was on sale from Peacocks, Camels, Cows, plastic bottles and pipes, to Oranges and Olive mountains.  It felt like chaos and looked terrifying and as Nicholas tried to capture the mayhem in the streets using his camera and his phone, his mobile was stolen from the top pocket of his jacket. it cast a pallor over the day as it dragged everyone into his mess and it took over the event. They went to the police and the detective, who was sat in his office,looking like a bandit smoking a cigar and holding court with his guards, advised they needed two photographs, his passport and a photocopy and proof of address,none of which he had on him so they had to go back to Essaouira. Nicholas was seeing a side of Morocco he had not expected and began to enjoy the world he was now exploring as once they had dropped off their shopping and a sick Richard and negotiated with the taxi driver to collect them later at Bab Mrrakech , he had photos taken in a studio, had lunch and then discovered a photocopiers. Ready for the police they took the taxi back to the Police Station, only to discover it was closed. Kamal and Nicholas explored round the back of the station which looked like it was someones home and they met a young girl who took them to Omar, the guard on duty. Everything was completed but they would need to return in the morning when the chief had signed the report. It was a strange bond of friendship he now shared with Holly and Kamal and was already looking forward to seeing them when he returned. Back in Essaouira there was a short break during which Nicholas went shopping before Richard and Eileen’s guests, Diane, Tig and Nabil arrived. Nicholas was exhausted by his experience and the energy that the theft of his phone and the drama surrounding it had given him began to dissipate and he found himself unable to contribute much to the gathering and at about 9 pm he took himself to bed and to sleep. 

Nicholas Quirke was not happy with his technology on 8th December when he had been unable to connect to the internet and publish his blog from the 7th, which had been quite a day and had provided him with some amusing anecdotes as by the end of it he was exhausted after having walked a total of 23 kilometers in the Sun and wind. His day started with an altercation with a local Berber barber who had enticed into the little salon to tidy up his goatee for the agreed price of 40 Dhiran. Despite it being a relaxing experience and enjoying the scent of the pomades and oils he was pampered with, Nicholas was not happy when the wily barber then asked for 150 Dhiran. He argued that they had agreed 40 but eventually crumbled and ended up giving him 100. They had also met with Holly and Kamal to walk to the ranch at Diabat tho see the horses and further on to view the mournful ruins of the Sultans Palace. On their return they stopped at Ocean Vagabond, where hungry and hoping for supper he discovered the Vegan option was limited to chips and he found himself playing the Vegan Victim role, always an enjoyable moment for him. He met with more of Richard and Eileen’s friends and was delighted to be reacquainted with Diane and Aly. Though tired he ended his day trying to get his blog out but frustrated by his failed efforts went to sleep in the hope of more success in the morning before he and Eileen left for Marrakech. He tried to get out his podcast, blog and update but again he was thwarted by the data flow. It was an early start as it was a 3 hour journey to Marrakech by coach and one he was looking forward to. Plans to see The Marjorele Gardens, Jemaa el-Fna Square the Souk and the Saadian Tombs were made. They were determined they would not succumb to any attempts to defraud them of money and were rigorous, once in Marrakech, that prices would be negotiated before they spent. Their first visit was to the Marjorele Gardens, the Berber Museum and the Yves St Laurent Museum. The gardens were exotic and beautiful, as were many of the vain butterflies who posed in their finery against the blue buildings.  Lunch in the grounds and then they headed to the square to see the snake charmers, the monkeys and the chancers.  Nicholas was trying to curb his people pleasing but before he could protest, he found himself with a snake wrapped around his neck, staring into the eyes of a cobra and having 400 Dhiran asked of them. Eileen stood her ground and they got away with only 100. The Souk was colorful and lively though they eventually found themselves commandeered through the streets to a venue they realised they did not want to see and as a result they missed the opportunity to see the Tombs or the Ben Youseff Palace. Their last act, before tea in L’Adresse to see the sun begin to set, was to negotiate a fair price for a woven bin, Eileen’s bargain of the day. It had been a fun day and they were full of talk on the journey back to Essaouira and already making plans for Nicholas’s return and a night in Marrakech to catch the sights he had missed. Home to bed ans another early start on Sunday.

Nicholas Quirke was not going to give up on the amazing views he had lost from the organised hike the day before and decided he would head out early and capture some of the key sights. Eileen lent him her bike and he headed north, out through the Medina and on towards the shore and the sewer works. As he cycled, he thought about his odyssey and once again felt excited to be on a journey and visiting his fifth continent in the space of the year. Being in Africa reminded him that he had been in New York and seeing ‘The Book of Mormon’. Nicholas was genuinely thrilled to be on a bike heading off into the remote but known landscape, recapturing the images that had prompted him into indiscriminate use of his camera. It was sunny, the beach was deserted and he felt a sense of joy to once again having no immediate commitments and he could live completely in the moment.  As he cycled back the seat got lower and lower. till he felt like he was riding a kids bike. A group of street children found this most amusing as the chased him down the street jeering and crying out “Monsieur, Monsieur!” Shades of Sebastian and ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ again. He was back in the Medina in time for lunch and met Eileen. Richard and Jamie for a bite to eat in a lovely rooftop bar Taros.  Nicholas was surprised as he bought a  fridge magnet and a postcard that the shop keeper gave him no change from the 20 Dhiran. He questioned the cost of the postcard but the merchant was unrelenting and said that it was 10 Dhiran! Nicholas was affronted by this daylight robbery but realised that it was the equivalent of a £1 and though he let go of the money he could not let go of the offense.  He was ready to picket the store and stop people shopping there, Richard and Eileen did not think this was a good idea. Nicholas was in his element in the kitchen, cooking a Chick Pea and lentil stew for everyone’s supper before they headed off to the ultra cool Mega Loft for a smoothie and some laid back live music. The evening was rounded off with more chat and laughs and Jamie sharing his happiness with being in Morocco, a feeling Nicholas definitely shared.

Nicholas Quirke was enjoying a full, active and sociable day on the 5th of December but by the time he sat down to collect his thoughts about the day he ended up feeling a little deflated by events that took over his evening. The morning had started well with Eileen, Richard and Jamie taking him out with a walking group exploring the outskirts of Essaouira’s landscape and sea shore. It was an eccentric group of Ex Pats, British, Dutch, German that made their way along a dusty road that led to a sewage works. No one was expecting that, and the stench that arose from cess pools was too much for some of the sensitive walkers. They fought their way through the bush encountering cows, donkeys and a tortoise before the landscape opened up onto a wonderful, empty seascape of sand, blue skies and sea. Nicholas took the opportuinty to take over a hundred photographs on this walk, including the beautiful rock pools and arches wrought in the rocks by the waves and ones of the group before and after the 5 mile walk. Nicholas made his own way home and inadvertently found himself in Essaouira’s red light district with a plethora of women all offering their services, ‘Monsieur’ they cried reaching out their red painted nails towards him. For a brief moment he felt himself to be Montgomery Clift in Suddenly Last Summer. He decided to take some lunch, a lentil and mushroom tagine, at the Vegan restaurant where he had been treated to a rogue takeaway and was reminded that it was a year ago in New York that he had enjoyed his finest dining experience at a Korean Restaurant with Jenny Fisher . It was delicious and satisfying and as he waited he tried to see the photographs he had taken but struggled to find them, he was perplexed but thought he would sort it out later. He and Eileen went shopping in the early evening and he purchased a few items including a TinTin carving and some gifts. Back at the Ryad they were expecting a couple of friends and a builder, the smell of burning plastic began to filtrate through the home and it was discovered that there was a fire in the junction box.  They lost all electricity and they sat chatting in the candle light as Kamal arranged for an electrician to come. Within an hour and half the situation was resolved and they sat talking till quite late with Kamal and his partner Holly. Once they had gone Nicholas discovered to his horror that the 111 photographs he had taken that day were blank and he had no record of the walk and beautiful sights he had seen. This was a dispiriting situation which was added to when he learned that his lodger was giving him notice and hoped to be gone before Christmas. Ir was with a heavy heart that he went to his bed.

Nicholas Quirke was woken at 6am on 4th December by the haunting sound of prayer deep guttural moans and whines carried through the morning air and dragged him from his bed and bedroom onto the terrace, where, in his Jahballa nightwear. looking like he was going native, he watched the day dawn amongst the rooftops of Essaouira’s Medina. Once everyone was awake they set off for breakfast at the Vegan restaurant where the night before Hassam had provided Nicholas with an unorthodox takeaway. They were returning the plates that his supper was served on but sadly it was closed and they went to an alternative cafe. His agenda for the day, beyond exploring the city was to resolve the past 5 months issues with his GoPro, he had a notion it was connected with the memory card and he was determined after enjoying the artisan shops and streets and alleyways of the Medina that he would have some success. They went beyond the walls of the city and Nicholas was entranced by the shabby streets that stretched down to the shore. They shopped for groceries, bought some household necessities and got a taxi back. The shopping was loaded onto a carouser and a poor ancient man pushed their bulky buys hesitantly through the narrow crowded streets to Richard and Eileens home. After a short break he set off with Eileen and Jamie to find a memory card and a  missing cable for Jamie’s PlayStation. Progress through the streets were slow as they looked at potential purchases and were stopped by a variety of shopkeepers who ether knew Eileen or were trying to sell their wares. Hassam from the restaurant stopped them and chatted and thanked them for the plates. Success for the Memory card, though it proved to be very expensive. but they failed to satisfy Jamie’s requirements. The excellent news was that the Samsung disc sorted his GoPro problem out and he could film again but to make life more difficult his mobile phone refused to download his photos. His insides rioted with rage but it was indiscernible to his friends as they set off for supper at Beach and Friends, a relaxing beautiful location on the shore. On their way Nicholas was lured by the sight of a Fez into another shop and another purchase and another step closer to the Moroccan look Once home he was able to sort out all his technical issues, handle an attack of cramp, revisit his day in New York in 2017 with Diana and Michelle, before retiring for the night.