Back at the end of October, I shaved my head. This was partially for the wonderful Teenage Cancer Trust, to raise money for the work they do as well as for an amazing Halloween costume – Eleven from Stranger Things!
I shaved my head earlier in the year, mainly to see what it looked like, but I was away in New Zealand, so nobody knew me without a shaved head and I rarely looked in mirrors on my travels and when I worked on a farm there. As soon as it got too long, I shaved the back and sides and returned to my previous haircut.
This time, I am back in Birmingham, with a job and normal life going on around me. I have also decided to grow my hair back to long.
I shaved my hair to 12mm and it has already grown (in six weeks) to around 40mm!
So it has felt different. At home, I spend a lot of time in front of a mirror, so I got used to my new look very quickly. Despite the fact that I don’t wear make up to work and I am generally a very confident person when it comes to my appearance, I feel more obliged to wear make up and dangly earrings to make some effort to look more feminine.
More make up!
I think this is most likely due to the fact that I am quite masculine anyway and I get mistaken for a lesbian a lot. This isn’t directly a problem – but if someone I would like to date is assuming I am not interested in their gender at all, it isn’t convenient.
Not that that has happened, but you never know.
I suppose it is also partly because some people tend to be overly wary/ intimidated by particularly masculine girls and get somehow offended by a girl who is not obviously feminine. While I don’t care about this that much, I would rather not be hounded by people telling me I look “like a man” or I look “too masculine” with the short hair.
But honestly, all of this is in my mind, because everyone who has seen my before and after hair has been very complimentary. Apparently, it suits my face.
This is what I remind myself of every time I lament how a new spot can’t be easily hidden or when I feel unattractive.
Practically, short hair is both good and bad. It dries in a heartbeat, which is ideal for someone who is always late and hates early mornings. It also requires zero maintenance.
That said, I chose the wrong winter to do this *looks out at the nine inches of snow*.
Now that I am growing it out, it has reached the uncomfortably long stage and I know it will only get “worse” from here – at least for sixth months or so. So now begins phase two: attempting to style out the weird things my hair does as it grows back to shoulder length and beyond. Hopefully I have enough hair products!
We got up reasonably early and made our way to the bus station. We made a quick stop for our usual breakfast at Patisserie des Princes, before continuing on.
The pollution in Marrakech was more obvious since we had been out to the mountains, so we were glad to be heading away again.
At the bus station, we were accosted by a friendly man, who led us through the station to a few ticket desks and then onto the correct bus.
The bus took a while to get going, so we sat there in the hot, loud station, politely decline the various wares we were offered by sellers who kept wandering into the bus. It’s a captive audience, I suppose. It reminded me a bit of the people selling crisps and drinks to those on buses in Samoa – those buses were way cooler though!
The journey was around three hours and horribly hot and uncomfortable.
They did have one stop where one could buy a drink or go to the toilet, but I felt so rough that I didn’t want to move.
We arrived and walked through the slightly less nice bit of Essaouira and entered the lovely, cool, old town. The streets there were mostly empty, apart from those with shops, but had a much more relaxed atmosphere than those in Marrakech. We continued on and found our amazing riad. This was the most expensive of our accommodations for this trip – and still only £23 each!
The view down!
Our room in Riad Al Zahara
Our really cool shower
It was called Riad Al Zahara and it was stunning. The room was a few floors up, it was large, it had its own bathroom and a ceiling fan! We also were given free water and chocolates.
It was once we were in the room, that I realised that I still had the room key from when we were in Marrakech! Luckily, we were returning there the next day! Oops!
We explored the terrace – a beautiful area on the roof with great views and a wonderful breeze. It was just stunning up there.
View from the beautiful terrace
A lovely door
After getting way too excited about the riad and our coastal location, we practically ran out to visit the sea.
It was amazing! Not perhaps as warm as expected, but by no means cold. The waves crashed in around us as we looked down a beach that apparently went on forever. We had a lovely long walk, before heading back, trying to avoid getting sand in our eyes as gusts of wind swept in.
Sam wading in the sea
What a beautiful place
We had nearly got the the edge of the beach when we were stopped by two local boys, both working in tourism. We spoke to them for ages, well, we mainly listened. You know how it is.
Eventually, after carefully avoiding handing out our numbers or hotel name, we “agreed” to meet them at a cafe that evening. We had other plans.
On our way back through the beautiful streets, we stopped for the first, and last, ice cream of the Moroccan tour.
That evening, we found a highly recommended and slighlty odd restaurant to have dinner. It was strange fusion food, which was mainly nice. We especially enjoyed the unusual decor. Recommended for the adventurous!
After dinner we tried to get drink on the terrace of our Riad, but sadly it was closed. In fairness, it was very windy and very dark.
After an incredibly comfortable and not at all hot night’s sleep. We awoke and climbed back up to the terrace for an amazing breakfast!
We couldn’t get enough of the terrace
Posing on the terrace
We loved the terrace so much, we didn’t want to leave, so we came back after checking out and bought drinks!
I had the only alcohol either of us had in Morocco in a glass of white wine. Tasty! We had a great chat and admired the incredible view in our sunny, but not overly hot, surroundings.
We both still had some money left, so went out to do some more shopping before we left the beautiful seaside town. We found a lovely quiet market street, with beautiful arched shops set into the town wall. I bought a pretty tagine-shaped tealight holder and Sam bought a few things from the same shop.
The gorgeous shopping street
The man then offered to show us some wooden products, made out of traditional wood, in the shop next door. We obliged and he showed us some beautifully carved pieces. I was completely in awe of a clever puzzle box that he showed us and so I had to buy it. It was too clever to pass up.
We found a vegetarian place for lunch, which had pretty decent food. I was quite slow eating though, so Sam went to get our bags while I finished up. We began the walk back to the bus station, lamenting the length of time we spent in Essaouira – our favourite place on the trip!
While navigating on my phone as we made our way back, I proved that I could no longer take a holiday without falling over and tripped down a small set of steps. Luckily, there was not much damage.
We reached the bus station in time to board a slightly nicer bus than the one we had taken to Essaouira and began our journey back to the mad, polluted, eye-opening city.
The journey was much nicer, although we of course hit traffic in Marrakech – we found some questionable music on my phone to pass the time though!
We exited the bus and walked back to our riad as the sun set in a spectacular orange show. The walk was reasonably long, so it was dark by the time we got in and slipped our old room key sneakily back onto the table in the foyer and made our way upstairs to our final room in Hotel Aday.
We spent the evening relaxing and packing and drinking freezer-cold drinks that we bought from the hotel. After the cool streets of Essaouira, Marrakech was stifling!
We had to be up early to get back to the airport, so we slept early too and left after a minor kerfuffle with finding someone to open the front door!
We were determined to get the bus to the airport, and even turned away two taxi drivers, but as time went on, we realised that the bus was late, so found one of the drivers and got a taxi for the same price!
We had checked in online, but despite this, we were made to wait and queue for check in, to get some sort of stamp. This was thoroughly annoying, given how we had to pay to check in early online. Hooray for Ryanair.
Eventually we got through the queue, passed passport control and security with minimum fuss and got into duty free.
With our last scraps of dirhams, we went to Starbucks for breakfast. This seemed like a good idea.
I had a cheese crossiant. Which I ate with a plastic fork.
I was very hungry, as usual, so I was eating quite quickly.
I paused briefly about one third of the way in, and noticed that one of the prongs of my fork had snapped off. So I went to pick it out of the remaining food.
It. Wasn’t. There.
Somehow, I had managed to eat so fast, and with so little chewing that I had EATEN A PLASTIC FORK PRONG.
Not my finest hour.
After Sam had convinced me that I wouldn’t die, we boarded our plane and flew back home.
Morocco was such an incredible place to visit, with such a different landscape and culture to anything I had previously experienced. This is why I love travel – it broadens your sense of what it means to be a citizen of this planet.
My advice for anyone wanting to visit Morocco in an adventurous way – don’t fall into the trap of staying in Marrakech the whole time. Marrakech is great, but there is so much more to Morocco than that and Sam and I barely scratched the surface!
Going to Morocco and only seeing Marrakech is like going to England and only seeing London – it’s fun, but doesn’t give you a full picture of what the country is like.
Many many thanks to my wonderful German farm buddy, Chris, for recommending Essaouira and Imlil to me – visiting these wonderful places totally made our trip!