Ever come back from vacation needing another vacation? A week ago I returned from accompanying Adrián on his annual pilgrimage to visit his family. This year we took my mom for added fun, with the goal of taking her to the South of France. The plan was to land in Madrid, spend that day resting, then pick up a rental car and drive to a little town in the Pyrenees just across the French border. It looked like a good idea on paper. It even looked like a good idea on Google Maps. But you know what? It's a whole lot of driving. We didn't get to our hotel until 10:30 at night. And that was pretty much the pattern for the rest of the trip. The next day, we stopped at a little mountain farm and for some reason bought a kilo of Pyrenean cheese (is it just me or does that sound dirty?), which we then schlepped across about 2000 kilometers, lovingly storing it in the fridge at our hotel in Arles, where we spent three days. Arles is very interesting, packed with Roman ruins... and it turned out we just about killed my mom by making her walk from amphitheater to theater to forum to baths. Then, horses and flamingoes in the Camargue, bad bouillabaisse in Marseilles (where I made her cry because I was grouchy), Barcelona (okay, we actually had a good time there, though we forgot the cheese at the hotel. I hope they enjoyed it)! Finally, Alicante to see Adrián's family, then up at four a.m. to get her to Madrid on time for her noon flight back to the States.And then, because in the planning stages it seemed like an excellent idea but ended up more in the "what were we thinking" category, we headed to Marrakech for three days, Adrián barely recovered from a stomach virus, me about to fall victim. But here, in keeping with the theme of the blog, is a fabulous cellphone video of our visit to the ruins of El Badi palace. If you listen, you can hear the muezzin at a nearby mosque and the resident storks (look hard, you'll spot their nests) clattering their beaks.
But in spite of the delicate state of his entrails, Adrián was none the worse for wear after supposedly finding a bug in his soup at a stall in the plaza Jemaa el Fna. He was funny. I make brilliant observations like "I hear a cat" or "ooh, the light!" Yeah, and I spent 12 years as a TV reporter.
It's in Spanish. Here's a translation:
J: Adrián, you want to say something to me?
A: I ate a bug in the plaza, but it was really good...
J: Yeah? (He, of course, let me finish my soup after finding the alleged bug)
A: ...it had a very traditional flavor.
J: Flavor of what?
A: Flavor of... I don't know, but it was very traditional, very ancient, almost from the middle ages. It was a bug from the middle ages.
J: I hear a cat but I don't see it. (Are cats halal? Maybe that was the "chicken" in my tagine.)
J: And what else, besides that?
A: (Yawning) I'm having a lot of fun, all of this is really interesting, it's an incredible culture, and, well, I don't imagine it's the last time we'll come ('cause, you know, he's having so much fun). Look, a dog. (Because it's not like there's anything else to look at on the plaza)
J: A Moroccan dog. (I am on FIRE with the witty observations! Did I mention I used to be a TRAVEL reporter?)
A: The only dog I've seen. (Uh oh... are dogs halal? Maybe THAT'S what's in the tagine!)
J: (Turning camera on self) Well, I don't know what to say either... ooh, the light! But, uh, yeah, it's very interesting and ... yeah, that.
So, thanks to our leaving the real camera under the seat of our rental car, THIS is the only record of our trip. Maybe that's a good thing.
Let me know if you run across an errant third of a wheel of cheese.