Monday 18 January 2010

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Hotel Balima, Rabat, Morocco

Up bright and early on Sunday we check out of the Riad Meknes and pile all our possessions in the back of a Grande Taxi for a whistlestop tour of the Roman ruins at Volubilis. It is a scorching hot day and I’m grateful to be able to ditch the jeans and extra layers for once. The Romans were here in the fourth century BC and bailed around 280 AD when the locals got a little bit too tasty for them. They were a long way from home I guess. We deliberated over coming here – seen one Roman ruin, you’ve seen them all, right?

Glad we made the effort, and armed with our official guide, another Abdul, though mercifully (for him and for us) this one is not on crutches. Though why he’s wearing that jumper in this heat is anyone’s guess. He gives us a great tour, and we bake in the sun, take pictures and oblige him when he begs us to imagine the scene a couple of millennia ago when the Romans were cavorting around, drunk out if their minds and eating so much they made themselves vomit.

Abdul demonstrates the Roman bathing technique

We’re back in Meknes in time to board the 14:21 for Rabat. Some wanker tries to charge me 80 dirhams for three kebabs. How much each? I ask him. Er, 26. No mate – I threaten the walk out and he settles for 60. Which would kind of fall in line with the 20 dirhams some American dude told me he’d just paid for his. It must be something to do with railway stations, or your proximity to them. The train itself is nice. I guess that must be the French influence - funny how it is only ex-British colonies where you see people hanging out of the windows and fighting for space on the roof. I wonder how far the Romans would have got if they'd thought of trains?

Two hours later, we are in Rabat.

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