Behind the scenes: Morocco
With James Threlfall, Marcus Payne, Robin Kitchin and Mike Wilcox
One vast assault on your senses, an explosion of colour; Morocco was not your average skate mission.
We were greeted at Marrakech airport by a distinct lack of a hire car, though this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The best laid plans may mean well, but in practice hurtling a van around the back streets of Marrakech’s Old Medina to a dodgy map probably wouldn’t have been the wisest move, especially as our eventual taxi driver could barely find our riad. It was worth the struggle though, as an amazing sanctuary awaited with rooftop views across the Medina.
Sleep, camera set up and some crazy good mint tea (courtesy of the legendary owner Khalid) was all that was needed as we headed into the streets of Marrakech.
We were hit immediately by a wealth of kindness from all angles. Curious locals, children, workers; the energy that complimented the hustling environment was unequivocal, as was the mutual interest in exploring another’s culture. What else was very clear from early on is that skateboards and skating are not all too common in Morocco’s capital. James and Marcus were accosted at every opportunity, giving the offending parties their first experiences on a skateboard. It was fresh, uplifting and a highlight of our skate trips to date.
As the team moved through the city we began to find a series of ledges, stair sets and riding opportunities. And, with the turn of the afternoon, a few local skaters came out of the sun drained shadows and were fully amped on seeing foreigners discover their scene. There was a good feeling in the group; this was a different kind of adventure.
Day two had us head towards the coastal town Essaouira. It was 2 hours away, but worth it. On route Marcus spotted an amazing flat bank off the main road, nestled by a small row of shops. There was no-one around, but as soon as the boys started looking at what was possible, crowds gathered. Kids came from no-where to grace the top of the bank, and Marcus cleared a path into the sketchy ground beneath. James tweaked a tuck-knee boneless, whilst Marcus kick-flipped in. It was a spot we hadn’t seen on edits before, and the boys were pumped.
Travelling down what appeared to be an endless road, it seemed like we were heading to dreamland, a place where time would be irrelevant. Life became a little more grounded as we caught first glimpse of the surf destination. It may not have been firing in the water that day, but we were on the hunt for slabs of a more concrete nature.
The front had pretty much a plaza of ledges, surrounding the promenade. It was much more apparent that skating was known and lived with here, and the boys were made to feel at home. A long day ended with some big smiles across the team’s faces, and a sleepy ride home ready for the final morning of this 3 day mission.
An early start had us back in the Old Medina. A bit of flat land in between the winding streets, skitching lifts and getting some aching legs moving was the order, before checking back at some spots we’d seen on day one.
Just off one of the main roads was an empty fountain in amongst the vibrant green of trees. Sun shone through the surroundings, creating a haven of light and dark. Sketchy paths in, making things slow underfoot weren’t ideal, but the boys persisted. It was an odd sort of utopia, with no-one else on hand but challenges throughout. We had been given a moment of freedom in an otherwise crowded escape.
Thank you Morocco, we’ll see you again sometime.