First impressions of Marrakech? Well, yes it’s exotic. I walked into the Medina today with the intention of getting lost and I succeeded. The Medina is the ancient walled city with its maze of lanes and streets that anyone not from here will find impossible to navigate. My inauguration also included an unsolicited motor scooter ride to a place I did not want to go for the price of €10. I’ve arrived in Morocco. The day involved walking and walking while entirely lost and finished with dinner on a balcony overlooking Place Jemaa El Fna where the Berbers charm snakes accompanied by constant drumming and the voices of hawkers selling their wares. Welcome to Morocco.
I don’t know what to say about India so far. I was warned: “Nothing can prepare you for India.” You’ll love it; you’ll hate it.” On and on. Well there hasn’t been that kind of shock or that kind of emotion. We cycled, more or less around the coast from Pondicherry to Ramanathapuram through some very off-the-beaten-path areas where little English was spoken and road signs often had no Roman script. People were welcoming and supportive and while we had to make do with less than ideal accommodation, the food was always good and we were always treated well. I have not been shocked. I haven’t hated nor loved India. I’ve liked it and disliked it but nothing too extreme. Perhaps it’s the area of the country; I don’t know. One thing, though, is that there is no café culture. There are no places to just hang out, to sip a glass of pineapple juice and watch the world go by. You are either on the noisy, crowded street or hidden away in your room. This is unfortunate because it can be an interesting world to watch go by. We hired a car and driver to bring us and our bikes to the very southern tip of India where the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meet, to Kanyakumari, an Indian tourist town. There are many many hotels and many many people shopping at the stalls full of t-shirts and toys and such. No one is just hanging out. There have, though, been colourful temples and the streets are definitely very much alive. Here are some photos of the journey so far.