Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Lessons From Marrakech

Our tour guide
I've just been for a lad's weekend in Morocco. I can highly recommend the guided walking tours in the Atlas mountains. It's a long way for a short time, I know. But fear not ecomentalists; I offset my carbon footprint in several ways. First, we travelled home from Heathrow via National Excess. Our genial driver ('No ticket? This bus leaves in one minute, mate') found us a space on the roof between chicken-carrying baboushckas, and students with halitosis and Ipods playing The Prodigy. Secondly, I left behind non-essential items, like my mobile phone, and the wife.

Morocco is an interesting lens through which to view Blighty. I've been reading a lot about waste of all kinds recently, but apparently food is a biggy; 20% of all UK carbon emissions, and if you came to a barbecue at my house, that statistic wouldn't surprise you. Compare this with Marrakech. There is a huge square there called Djemaa el Fna ('place of a thousand scams'). We sat down to eat there and Brits that we are, didn't complain when they bought twice as many dishes as we ordered. We left a lot.

But as we left the table some enterprising locals pounced on the remains of our meal and spirited it away. Nothing got chucked, even the 'small fish of a thousand bones'. Why don't we do this? I would gladly give the large collection of Black Cherry yoghurts and half a Curly-Wurly at the back of my fridge to anyone who asked. What's more the supermarkets won't give excess food to local homeless people because of their fear of litigation, unless the homeless one concerned carries the appropriate insurance. Can you spare a few coppers for the premium, guv?

In Morocco this efficient approach to life doesn't stop at food. They even dispense with expensive power-hungry alarm clocks. Instead there is an obliging chap who climbs up a tower at 4:30 and wakes everyone up. Oh, how we laughed the first time that happened. There is also a thriving moped pool which sees little Hondas everywhere, groaning under the weight of three or more Marrakechians who wave cheerfully as they neatly deflect you into the gutter. Oi! Where's my camera?

Inspired by all this, I'm going to make a few changes close to home. This afternoon I shall be bartering for the weekly food shop at Waitrose. After that I'm off to buy a loudhailer with all the money I've saved, and a stepladder long enough to reach the roof. I'll be up there at 4:30 tomorrow to surprise the neighbours. I can hardly wait to see their faces.


  1. You might find the stepladder gone when you're finished

  2. On a serious note (sorry) buy some chickens and feed them all your left over food then eat them (not immediately, help yourself to their unborn though (eggs)).

  3. Better take a torch I have it on good authority that it is still pitch black dark in many parts of the world at that early hour,good climbing !

  4. Ubergrumpy may have salved his carbon conscience but I'd bet the average Moroccan would swap his scooter for a top-line BMW (as would most Brits, sadly).

  5. Top-line donkeys are the way to go in Atlas mts. Nice guide! Did she show you her shrine?

  6. Yup, but alas it was closed to non-moslems. I felt like a right donkey