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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Jamaa el Fna

When I booked a holiday to Morocco one of the first things that made me incredibly excited was the thought of all the beautiful food!! Home of my beloved cous cous, I couldn't wait to tuck in to a tasty tagine. Prior to landing in the hot African country, my girlfriend informed me I would be in foodie heaven in Jamaa el Fna.

Jamaa el Fna is right in the hustle and bustle of the old medina and is surrounded by the infamous souks selling everything from rugs to lamps and all other kinds of one off treasures. Once the sun sets on the square the food markets come out to play and the chefs take to their cooking stations. Prior to taking the dive and eating some local cuisine we tended to have a drink on a rooftop café and watch the square come to life.
 

 
My girlfriend stuck to her notorious black coffee habit, whilst I enjoyed my usual holiday choice of drink, Orange Fanta.


 
We ate from the food markets on a couple of occasions. Our first meal consisted of... Bread & Olives...

Followed by Cous Cous Royale (the daddy of all cous cous dishes with chicken, lamb and spicy sausage)

And eaten alongside a lamb tagine.
 
Dinner was then finished with a cup of complimentary mint tea.

Princess loved her cup of tea...

And also enjoyed taking photos of me taking photos of our food. #moderncouple
 
The other time we ventured to eat at the food stalls was a bit more adventurous.  We ate an almond tagine at the same stall we had previously eaten at...

But then went next door to a very busy stall.

There were no tourists at this eatery and it was full of locals chomping on some delectable dishes.
 
As we took a seat these little sleepy sheep kept staring at us. Actually they weren't very sleepy, they were very much deceased and ready to be eaten.
 

The chef chopped near enough every part of the sheep and made sure nothing went to waste.

In the meantime his very young assistant enjoyed boiling the heads one at a time whilst posing for my camera. A young Arabic Jamie Oliver anyone?

 
The dishes arrived in front of us pretty quick and fast. First up was sheep brain, stewed neck and cheek.
 
 A plate full of lung, tongue, stomach, breast meat and a bit of penis was then given to us.
 
Luckily they gave us some side dishes of tomato salsa...
 
and Spinach & Garlic...
 
Before our table looked like this little delightful feast.
 
Not one to be shy with food, brain was first on the agenda.
 

If asked to describe brain, I would characterise it as smooth and creamy, almost like an overly ripe avocado. The taste wasn't too bad as it was flavoured with some herbs and spices. After a few bites it became quite sickly though as I'm not that big a fan of creaminess.

Then I proceeded to just eat random scraps of body/head parts. Bon appétit!

Needless to say we couldn't eat all the food, but we gave it a good try.
 
 The guys at the stall were happy to use my camera and took this lovely family photo of us next to our new adopted Moroccan mother. This lady was shouting and waving her arms during the whole time we ate and also broke up a fight, right in front of our eyes. Ain't nobody messing with Moroccan Mama!
 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

JAWS


 According to Eleanor Roosevelt you're meant to "Do one thing every day that scares you". When working a normal nine to five job that can sometimes be a bit difficult to do, so whenever I travel I always try and do something that's a bit adventurous/scary. I've sky-dived, bungee jumped, petted tigers & cheetahs, ridden elephants, ridden helicopters & hot-air balloons, jet-skied, parasailed. The list goes on. HOWEVER I have, well up until recently, had never cage dived with sharks before. When I visited Cape Town last year I booked myself and a friend onto a Great White Shark Cage Dive but the weather wasn't too good and the sea swells were "too dangerous" for the boat to sail in so ultimately it was cancelled. As the weather is better in April, I was in much better luck this year and I was able to see the sharkies up close and personal albeit missing my friend from my previous trip.
 
As I was flying solo this time around I had a lovely driver pick me up from my hotel at 5:30am to transport me to Simon's Town which is where the boat was docked. At the time of pickup it was pitch black, but as we set sail the sun decided to wake up and greet us with it's presence.
 
 
We then had an early morning meet and greet session with a pod of dolphins.
 
 
As we sailed closer to the dive sight, the dolphins rather wisely disappeared though. 
 
 
The skipper took us to Seal Island, which is home to roughly 60,000 Cape fur seals. All of these are up for grabs on the Great White Sharks' menu as they circle the island waiting for their prey to slip up and make a deadly last splash in the water.
 
 
 
After sailing very close to the island with a few rogue waves we had our first casualty of the day. And no it wasn't a seal. It was a poor English woman who became sea sick and threw up her Frosties over the side of the boat that she had eaten for breakfast that morning. Delightful to watch and listen to. On a more positive note, it was then time to anchor the boat and staff briefed us on the cage dive. Three simple rules were shared. Number 1 - keep your hands inside of the cage. Number 2 - keep your feet inside of the cage. Number 3 - enjoy. When it came to asking for any volunteers to go first, I obviously put my hand up like an eager school boy. As I was on my own and you had to go in the cage in pairs, I had to share the cage with an old French man who didn't speak a word of English. C'était parfait!
 
My dive attire was very flattering...
 
said nobody. Chuckles were had all around at my expense.
 
This lovely smelling fish guts was thrown in to the sea...
 
by this guy to bring the sharkies to the party.
 
As the sharkies turned up...
 
I took, what could have been, my final selfie.
 
I then entered this very cosy cage...
 
 whilst these big fella's swam around me.
 
 
 
 
 
 
And just to give you guys at home a view of what I saw, here with the help of my underwater camera, you can see Jaws and his mates a bit more up close and personal.




 
After a couple of hours out at sea, with people taking it in turns to go down in the cage, we then retreated back to shore, passing many little fishing boats along the way. Today's life lesson was that sharks aren't really as ferocious as they seem. Maybe if you pissed them off, then they'd bite a limb off to recompensate, but otherwise they seem a pretty chilled member of the aquatic family. Another thing ticked of the bucket list.