It feels a little strange, we are in a Country that does not ‘traditionally’ celebrate either Christmas or New Year, yet we are surrounded by shops that have all the festive decorations on display, not in excess like in Europe, but they are there, along the Promenade in the Restaurants and Bars, in shops and even some of the stall holders in the Central Market had decorated their stalls. Even some of the Motorhomers here on the Caravan Site have made an attempt to get festive by decorating their vans, but sadly, for me at least, as Shazza is always a bit “Bah Humbug” about Christmas, it does not feel very festive.
We have made some good friends in our neighbours, the ‘Energy Providers’, or now that we know each other much better we shall now refer to them properly as ‘Arlette’ and ‘Gerard’ but more about them a little later. Monday (22nd), we were on a mission to finally locate the ‘Carrefour’ Supermarket, from our first attempt we knew that it was going to be at least a half hour walk so we set off early before the heat got too unbearable to cart around heavily laden rucksacks and shopping bags. I tentatively suggested using the electric bikes as once through the initial ‘valley of death’ there was a nice long and wide pavement, however, Shazza wasn’t sure that we would negotiate the first part all in one piece and once there, if we survived, we didn’t know how safe it would be to leave the bicycles outside, albeit chained. So we made the decision to walk their and then if needs must we could always get one of the hundreds of little ‘orange’ petit taxis back to the campsite. This time we found the ‘Carrefour’ and laughed at ourselves, if we had turned right, instead of left, on our first aborted attempt we would have found it, tucked a few feet ‘behind’ the Moroccan Supermarket we had eventually shopped in !! However, I don’t know who described it to us as ‘large’, perhaps something was lost in the translation, okay it was not a ‘corner shop’ but neither was it the large ‘Hypermarket’ that we had anticipated ! In fact, it was a little disappointing, for although it is a ‘foreign’ supermarket as opposed to a Moroccan one, all of the ‘Fruit and Vegetables’ were locally sourced but at hugely inflated prices. We left with just a couple of items and at least now we knew that there would be no need for a re-visit, we could everything we needed from the ‘local’ shops and the Central Market which were just a few minutes walk from the Campsite. Not being heavily laden we chose to walk back rather than get a taxi, this had the advantage of also serving as our daily bit of exercise !! We did very little for the rest of the day other than relaxing in our sun chairs and just watching the little bits of activity going on around us. At exactly Half Past Two each afternoon the French Petanque Club would wander down to the ‘Boules’ area, just a short distance from our pitch, it was quite funny to watch as some arrived on Bicycles with their stools or fold up chairs under their arms, some even arrived on their little motor scooters, the site isn’t that big !! They would then spend the next two hours engaged in battle, it must have been a serious affair as we never heard any laughter, a few ‘Sacre bleu’s’ and ‘Ooohs’ and ‘aahs’ but that was it, then at the end, a lot of cheek kissing and shaking of hands and they disappeared again. I did suggest to Shazza, that we go out under cover of darkness and paint a giant ‘Union Jack’ right across all three ‘Boules’ pitches but she thought that they may have guessed at who the culprits where, I guess she had a point !! To round off the day we walked down to the Promenade and took a front row seat at our regular pavement Cafe to enjoy a ‘Nus Nus’ and watch the sun set. It just so happened that Arlette and Gerard were already there, we sat a table next to them and together enjoyed basking in the warm evening air, people watching whilst we waited for the sun to do its thing.
We got up On Tuesday morning, the first order of the day was to visit the ‘Central Market’ to get the ‘stuff’ that Shazza refused to pay the prices for at the ‘Carrefour’ the previous day. Shazza enjoyed these kind of Markets because as I may have mentioned before, you do not ‘barter’ for food produce, although, depending on how much you purchase from one vendor they do occasionally knock a few Dirham off, or round down the oddments.
Shopping done, I just happened to say, in passing, that with all this stuff to carry how inconvenient it was that in a country ‘Full’ of donkeys there wasn’t one around when you needed one, Shazza smiled as she dangled a carrot in front of my nose !!!!
Now then, back to ‘Arlette’ and ‘Gerard’ our French neighbours (formerly referred to a.s our Energy Providers). They do not have a ‘Motorhome’ they have one of those ‘Esteril’ pop up Caravans, which they tow with what we thought was one of those VW type people carriers, which we were later to discover is in fact a ‘Campervan’. They live in the Caravan when on a site and use the Campervan either as daily transport or to go off for two or three days to explore. However, because they do not own a ‘Motorhome’, they are ‘shunned’ by their fellow Countrymen, and women on this Campsite !! How ridiculous is that ? Gerard is a quiet spoken man, he speaks no English at all but through a lot of ‘gesticulations’, and assistance from ‘Arlette’, who does know a handful of English words, we actually communicate very well. Now ‘Arlette’ is the total opposite, I call her the ‘Duracell Rabbit’ for she never stops talking, and at a rate of knots that would put to shame any self-respecting semi-automatic weapon !! She is also extremely funny, through her mimes, gesticulations and smattering of English she has actually had the three of us, yes Gerard included, in hysterics many times over the last week. I do have to give her lots of credit though, Shazza could remember a little bit of school taught French as well as the few extra bits she had learnt from some of our previous French holidays. she has been listening, sometimes quite intently to Arlette and has been able to pick up ‘most’ of what she has said and then, the bits, that I didn’t quite happen to catch, lots of bits as it happens, she interpreted to me !!
They invited us to play ‘Petanque’, fortunately we each had a brand new set in ‘Big Momma’, which we needed to dust off, having never been used !! Petanque is like cricket in that it is pretty easy to play and the rules are simple, however, try explaining how to play the game to a complete novice !! We elected to learn the easy way, just play the game. First it was ‘Men versus Women’, and is if their would be any doubt about the outcome, we ‘spanked’ them, not literally of course, over here that would get us arrested !! Then it was Gerard and Shazza versus Eric and Arlette, well we had to let them win didn’t we, yes, twice as it happens !!
So, we lost, twice, but not disgraced and we returned to our vans, joined forces in the middle ground to enjoy the customary Four O’clock Aperitif and nibbles, what a stroke of luck, Gerard’s favourite tipple also just happened to be ‘Jack Daniels’, Arlette liked Whisky and Shazza stuck to her Martini Rosso, so the ‘Vin Rouge’ remained well and truly corked, well there’s always another day, week, month…………..!! As is also getting to be a bit of a habit on such occasions, the Nibbles ended up being the evening meal and Four O’clocks nearly became ‘Breakfast’ !!!! We knew that we would awake on Christmas Eve morning with sore heads………………………….