Morocco – 14th of June

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Our plane arrived in Morocco around one in the morning, we were all exhausted. We got to passport control and had to fill out these little forms about who we were, where we had come from, where we were going…you know, the usual. One problem though, we didn’t know our address in Morocco! The guys behind the desk were not happy, we were getting stressed, we tried to explain to them that we were here for charity so we weren’t really sure where we were going and no one had told us the name of the hotel we were staying at. This went on for about ten minutes, we genuinely thought we were never getting in the country, but then somebody remembered they had their pre-departure pack. The name of the Village was in it so we were saved!

We were met at the airport by one of our guides, Abderrahmane or Abdul for short which is much easier. We got in the mini bus and headed to the hotel, where we went straight to bed because by this time it was half two in the morning and nobody was a functioning human being.

The most important thing about hotels in hot countries? Air-conditioning. What did we not have in our room? Air-conditioning. It was so hot i didn’t even bother lifting the covers I just passed out on top of them. The room was a very uncomfortable stuffy sort of heat when we woke up in the morning. We were also really disorientated as we tried to figure out whether or not there was a time difference here.

When we got to breakfast and saw that we were the only ones there we decided that there was definitely not a time difference. Unfortunately for me the only thing at the breakfast I could eat was yogurt, but they were very yummy yogurts so that made up for it a little. Imogen and I decided to try out the famous Moroccan peppermint tea, and it wasn’t to bad. It had a faint taste of blue soft mints and I thought that it would be very nice as an iced tea.

After almost leaving Charlotte (one of our new Welsh team members) in her room due to a miscount, we set off from Marrakech to our village which we all now knew was called Marigha. We would not be forgetting that anytime soon.

On our way to the Marigha we stopped in a larger village to visit the Saturday market and we were given a tour. The market was huge and so busy. They sold everything there from baby bunnies and chicks to shampoo and conditioner, they even had small restaurants where people could take meat that they had bought and get it cooked, or just buy ready cooked food. There were stands full of nuts and seeds and some of the biggest watermelons I have ever seen.

We arrived at Marigha around about lunch time and they told us it was going to be a half hour to forty-five minute walk up to the main part of the village. This was an extreme exaggeration as it only took us around five to ten minutes to get to the main house. Here we unloaded the truck that had carried our bags from the mini bus to the village and went inside for lunch. Lunch was brilliant, we were presented with a huge plate of vegetables and rice, and on the side we were given a plate of meatballs which were delicious. After this we were given fruit and some peppermint tea, which was much nicer than the one we had tried at the hotel.

We were taken to a house where we would be staying for the first night because our house was not ready for us yet. The house was beautiful. It was not what I was expecting at all from what they had told us at home I had been expecting a dark little hut with no running water or electricity and a hole in the ground, with a bucket to wash with. This house was wonderfully decorated with tiles and fancy lights and even had a proper bathroom with a shower!

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After we had had a look around we all took a much needed nap before Abdul took us for a walk around the village. He took us up to the top of the village to a four hundred year old castle which was made from nothing more than clay, stone and wooden beams. We also got to see the site where the school was and he explained how important the project was for the village and how it would help the children.

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We went back to the main house to have dinner and some camomile tea or “sleepy tea” and Abdul and Rabia told us what we would be doing on the site. I went back to the house feeling excited but definitely ready for a good nights sleep especially with breakfast being at half past eight in the morning the next day…

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TO BE CONTINUED

 

Morocco – 12th – 13th of June

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We began our journey to Morocco with an 11 hour bus trip to London from Aberdeen. This was not as bad as I had originally thought it was going to be as we had bunk beds on board the bus to sleep on instead of being crammed into tiny seats. I managed to get a good 5 or 6 hours sleep on the way down so I was looking forward to our day in London.

Originally our flights to Marrakech were due to depart at three in the afternoon but they had been changed to later that night so we had a whole day free in London to go sight seeing. We started off by heading to the Childreach International offices at Hand Court so we didn’t have to carry our bags around all day with us. While we were there we were shown a short video from the vice president of Childreach’s partner organisation the Assafou Association; he welcomed us to Morocco and said a few words about the village and the project we would be working on.

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From the Childreach offices we headed to Trafalgar Square and stopped to eat some lunch. While we were sitting on the steps in front of the National Gallery two drunk men decided that the heat was just to much for them and jumped into one of the fountains in the square. The security guards could do nothing but stand and watch in horror; they did not want to go in after these men. Eventually they cooled down enough or the joke wore off because the men climbed out of the fountain and continued with there day as if nothing had happened.

After our lunch we headed towards Westminster, we stopped at Downing Street to have a look through the gates and met a very nice police officer there.  I had never realised how tightly surrounded Westminster Abby and Big Ben were by other buildings, I guess because I had only ever seen it once before in person from the other side of the river or on the TV.  We had another break after Westminster in St James’ Park, it was an extremely hot day. We all decided, after about half an hour of sitting on the grass, that ice-cream was definitely needed so we went on the hunt for an ice-cream stand. It was not long before we found one but to my dismay they only did ice-cream in cones, which being a Coeliac was absolutely no use to me at all. When I asked if they could just put the same amount of ice-cream into a coffee cup instead they said that wasn’t allowed and that if I wanted a tub I would have to pay almost double for a Sunday which was not what I wanted, queue Coeliac rage mode. I went to the next ice-cream stand and they told me the same thing, so I settled for a Solero.

Buckingham Palace is a lot shorter in real life than I thought but I am pretty sure it goes back for quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong I still think it is an impressive building, it just looked a lot bigger on the footage from the royal wedding than it does when you stand right in front of it. We were going to head back to the Childreach offices after Buckingham Palace but on the way to the subway station we walked past Hyde Park and decided to look around. By this time we were definitely sunburnt, apart from Imogen because she was smart enough to put sun cream on that morning.

Back at the Childreach office we got a talk from some of the people who work their, it was amazing to see how passionate they were about the charity and to here about some of the other projects. We did a workshop in child rights where we had to pick the right that we thought was the most important and explain why. Childreach do this workshop with children in some of their projects around the world to teach them that they have rights whether they have been good or bad, which surprisingly a lot of children do not realise. We were also shown a trailer for a film that will be previewed this year and is set to be released next summer called “Sold” which Childreach have worked very closely on, about child trafficking. The film makers say: “We hope our film, SOLD, will inspire a global movement to address this crime domestically and internationally.” Watching the trailer for this film brought tears to my eyes and I am looking forward to its release.

If you would like to know more about the film or watch the trailer please visit their website at: http://www.soldthemovie.com I greatly recomend that you do.

I think it is safe to say that the Underground’s self service ticket machines brought out the angry Scot’s in all of us as they refused to take our Scottish bank notes! Eventually we thought it was best to suck it up and pay by card but don’t you think for a second that we didn’t mutter and mumble under our breath about “legal tender” and “it has the queen’s head on it doesn’t it” and ” we may swell be independent when you treat our money like this”!

After a very crowded train ride to Gatwick airport, we finally arrived at the North Terminal and met some of our Welsh team mates.  All we had to do now was check in and wait for our flight! This was not as easy as it should have been due to the size of our bags we had to put them in the oversized baggage, but nobody in the airport seemed to know where this was. Thankfully we found it and went through customs, got some food and my last Banana Split for two weeks! Before we knew it we were sitting on the plane and ready to go, Morocco here we come…

 

TO BE CONTINUED