Saturday, 30 April 2011


As a regular visitor to Morocco, I have often been to the Argana café/restaurant. With its position next to the Souk and with two terraces overlooking Djema El Fna Square, plus an excellent menu of really good food at really reasonable prices, it is popular with locals and tourists alike.

On the ground floor is a pastry shop and then there is a wide sweep of marble stairs leading to the first floor and another to the second-floor. Both these floors have plenty of seating both covered and terraced and so it has a large capacity. All the times that I have been there it has been pretty full. And it should be mentioned that it is spotlessly clean, which is not always the case in Marrakesh.

I have very fond memories of the Argana.

The first time that John and I visited Morocco together was at Christmas-time a number of years ago. We first stayed at a secluded hotel in the Atlas Mountains and then travelled down by taxi on Christmas Day for our second destination of Marrakesh. It was beautifully hot day, nearly 30°, and we ended up on the first-floor terrace of the Argana for lunch.

It was there that we surveyed, in sheer wonderment, the diverse activities going on in the square: transvestite belly dancers, snake charmers, drum players, medicine men, henna artists and much more. So much entertainment that I had never seen before. I think John had kebabs and chips but I know I had Salad Nicoise. Fed up with the cold weather and over-commercialism of Christmas back in England, it was deliciously different way to spend Christmas Day.

The weather changed in Marrakesh after that day. It became colder and it rained a lot, so swimming outdoors was out of the question. And it was this that prompted me to visit a hamman (the Morocco version of Turkish baths) for the first time and I discovered, to my delight, but although it was a scary experience stepping into a dark, humid cavern, it was absolutely fantastic to be scrubbed and massaged, covered in mud, and almost drowned when buckets of water were chucked over me. Not surprisingly, I went every day after that first visit.

With my wet hair covered, turban like, with a large Moroccan scarf, I would meet John afterwards at the Argana, sometimes with people I had met at the hamman, for a delicious hot chocolate and, of course, it being me, a ciggie.

These are memories that I will never forget.

But on Thursday, some misguided, delusional, fanatical man or woman, placed a bomb in this lovely cafe and blew it up. How clever! Didn't even have the guts to stay there to be blown up him or herself.

What a contribution this person has made to a world that is already facing countless difficulties! What great act of heroism this was! How admirable to kill and maim dozens of people, leaving families and friends distraught and grieving!

Well stuff them. Stuff all terrorists. I am disgusted. And of course, John and I will be going to Marrakesh again soon. And if the Argana is in any way open for business, we shall be going there. Do what you will, terrorists, you will never win.

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