On the first day of 2006 we are off to North Africa to do some "research" for Roman Mystery 14, The Beggar of Volubilis. We fly to Marrakech, way down south, but will spend most of our ten days further north, on the Atlantic coast between Tangier and Rabat. The Riad Amira – where we're staying for our first night – looks like this on the website.
That evening – if our BA flight is not delayed, and if the taxi can find the riad, and if the riad has our room – I hope to drag Richard out to the famous Djemaa el Fna, with its snake charmers, tooth-pullers, acrobats, storytellers, musicians, clowns and pickpockets... I hope it will look something like this:
If we survive that, we'll explore the souks and kasbahs the next morning, then catch a train to Kenitra, just north of Rabat. There I hope we will be picked up by the grandmother of one of my young fans. Gentiane is an artist who runs a guest-house beside a lagoon near the little fishing village of Moulay Bousselham. On a map of Morocco are where the yellow arrow is pointing.
The red dot at the top of the triangle is Tangier, the red dot on the Atlantic is Rabat and the red dot on the other inland apex of the triangle is Fez. The little blue dot which the arrow points to is the lagoon called Merdja Zerga. As well as exotic birds, there are supposed to be lots of sandy windswept beaches nearby. Not so good for swimming this time of year, but great for walking and thinking. Also, I will get a feel for the geography of the place, the tastes, the smells, the feel of the air.
Here are five things I hope to do:
1. Visit the Roman ruins of Volubilis. And any other Roman remains in the near area.
2. Spend a few hours in a hammam, the closest thing to a Roman bath you can find today.
3. Visit the tannery in Fez. Apparently not much has changed there in 2000 years.
4. See a flamingo in the Merdja Zerga lagoon near our guesthouse.
5. Drink lots of mint tea.
The Beggar of Volubilis is out now in paperback...