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Meknes, sick

Published Sun 25 April 2010 21:23 (+1200)
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Wells in the Meknes granaries of Moulay Ismael
Wells in the Meknes granaries of Moulay Ismael
Meknes granaries
Meknes granaries

So after the previous day's long crowded train, and a hot noisy night's sleep, I got to see the interesting imperial granaries of the city of Meknes, built by Moulay Ismael to be his capital city, and well-organised to defend against the inevitable tactics of the Berbers in the mountains who he was fighting – cutting off the water sources.

He had a big stone-lined man-made lake to buffer a bit when that happened, and then once that ran out they could turn to the artesian wells down below the floors inside the big solidly-built granary storehouse.

The granary, which was filled through the windows courtesy of a grain tax, and was then used to feed the people back, when required (ie. the city was under siege). There was even a bit of space for horses in it. Apparently he had 12,000, so maybe the grain would all be needed to feed them instead of the people :).

Outside the King's palace in Meknes
Outside the King's palace in Meknes

We walked back towards town from there around the walls of the royal residences, past mouldy citrus trees around the perimeter – I later saw some dweebs carefully watering the leaves of the tree, which explained how they got mouldy – and the occasional sentry post.

The long walls surrounding the King's complex are a pretty decent size, but all have these curious pigeon-sized holes in them, much like those shown in the old mosque wall the previous day but not usually so many or so regularly placed. Apparently they have a dual purpose – firstly they come about because that's where the scaffolding poles were when they were making the wall, and secondly they help maintain a bit of airflow.

The non-prison

We walked to the other site on the tourist route, which are often claimed to be an old underground prison for some hard-done-by ethnic group, but I agree with the Lonely Planet that that's almost certainly bullshit – there's no sign of cells, manacles, or anything that you could use to manage or contain prisoners – it's just a big empty set of arched spaces, so much more likely to have been another dry-goods store.

And then with the shrimps

So anyway, that shrimp omelette from the previous day is presumably to blame for me then very suddenly and unpleasantly feeling the effects of food poisoning. Rushed to bathroom, walked on a bit, realised it was going to carry on, rushed to taxi and back home.

We'd already checked out, but our tour had arranged that we could continue to use their bathroom that day, and so while the others went to get camel-burgers (apparently very tasty – they bought me back one, which I really really could not manage!) I fished my travel kit stuff out of my bag and started the antibiotics, and sat around in the lobby making the place look untidy.

The kindly man from the hotel came over to see if I was OK since I really didn't look it (tourmate Helen described it as “having [my] sick face on” which summed it up well :)), and when I made the universal “bad tummy” motion, he offered I could go lie down on the couchettes in the breakfast room and rest, which was nice of him.

By the time the rest of the group got back to the hotel my head was spinning, but at least the blockers had taken effect, so I hopped on the minibus for the fascinating site of Volubis.