Isn't the definition of stupidity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Then why....why would I even think of going away for a long weekend to Marrakech with the kids? Why do we go anywhere? It's hard enough to be home with the 4 kids, let alone travel anywhere. This time was gonna be different because we took the train. Unless it's not. Not on a train! Not in a tree! Not in a car! Kids! Let me be! (Gratuitious Green Eggs and Ham interjection.)
If you have not been on a train in Morocco you might not know:
1. There are no seatbelts to constrain you from doing any phyical activity that you deem necessary. This is not limited to: hiding under the seat in the dark, stained, dustbunnied foot odored crevices, balancing on top of the tippy top of the chair back, obsessively opening and closing the sliding door to the cabin or doing headstands on the seat. Trust me. I know.
2. This leads to the fact that there is no great place to give your kid a time out on a train. Everywhere is much too exciting and new to be considered punishment.
3. While you can't smoke in the cabin of the train, you can head to the cancer ward that is conveniently located right outside the bathroom and light up. This inevitably will be the time that you urgently need to pee, but Abdul gets there first and is "indisposed" in there for the next 20 minutes because of his wife's tasty tagine the night before. Just enough time to second-hand smoke a half a packs worth of cigarettes. Hack, hack, cough, cough.
4. The kids love the novelty of the bathroom because when you "flush" the toilet and the little bottom flap opens you can see your waste actually fall and hit the tracks! Really....is there any better entertainment for 10 and 11 year old boys?
5. When they announce the stops in Arabic (which you don't understand anyway) AND the speaker in your cabin is broken and makes it almost impossible to decipher what they are saying and adds alot of fun to guess if you're getting off at the right stop or not. Then scurry and quickly collect your luggage and 4 kids and hope you don't have to wait 2 hours for the next train if you were wrong.
So much for that fantasy I had of a restful 4 hour train ride where I read my book and look adoringly at my perfect Ikea catalog children (who can never do wrong because they can't talk or move after all) and we all hold hands and skip to the hotel. Smiles everyone....smiles. (**Fantasy Island flashback moment inserted here. If you were born in the 80's please disregard and read on. I know I'm old and you have no idea what I'm talking about**)
So the riad that Craig wheeled, dealed and booked is totally gorgeous and the whole place is ours! It's in the middle medina in this old building with a courtyard in the middle, a dipping pool (the water was frigid, but that didn't stop the kids), 3 bedrooms and a rooftop terrace where it was posted not to sunbathe nude. Ember was pretty disappointed. So the kids stood in awe of its beauty for about 2 seconds until they staked their claim on which bed was theirs, who could be on their bed and breathe their air, etc., etc., etc.
So after a brief respite in the riad and a dip in the pool we head to the medina. It's one of the biggest and best in Morocco. Not only does it have loads of Moroccan wears, it's also got snake charmers, toothpullers, performing monkeys and ladies that will henna your hands and feet, even if you don't want them too. As we were strolling, I had my avocado ice cream in one hand (seriously delicious.....REALLY) and well.....I guess my other hand was free and a great canvas. In enter the crazy henna lady who grabbed it and started furiously henna-ing me. She did my whole hand in under 20 seconds. Apparently she's done this before and it doesn't take her 20 minutes to do a hand like someone say at a girls camping weekend who has no artistic talent at all and doesn't realize that the henna kit came with a template that all you had to do was copy it until she threw the box away. (I know that's a run on sentence and I don't care.) Jade and Ember are already freaked out about the medina because they get kissed by total stangers because of their unintentional blondeness, now they are fearful of roaming bohemian women bearing henna! After this scarring trauma, we headed to a late dinner at a restaurant. Ordered our food and waited for the longest 2 hours of all time. I prefer not to recount the details....so I digress.
Day two starts with camel riding. No they didn't spit, but they are taller than you think and the ride is bumpy and very cool! Everyone is happy....until it's over and there is the jostling for position in the taxi back to the medina (please refer to my post the suckage part 1 for further intricate details on car fun with 4 children). Then more walking in the medina to a museum where the kids can run around, lunch and a horse and carriage around the city. It sounds fun...I know it does. Even typing it it sounds great. However, with 4 kids in tow it's far more exhausting than can be captured in words. Now I could pantomime it pretty accurately...
So, day three we get up, pack up and leave earlier than we originally planned for the train. The riad was beautiful, the city exotic and musty, the food painfully slow, but delicious, but it's just time to go home. Sometimes it's just the best option. And of course we wanted to make an early escape to avoid the crazy henna lady. I wonder if the girls will have post traumatic stress disorder when we return to the states and they encounter a crazy perfume spritzer in the department stores.