|Generic French Businessman|
Expenses would have to be kept to a minimum and focus maintained. I would fly Ryanair. Arrive on the day of the event itself. Stay in a crappy hotel. Eat as cheaply as possible. No extravagances. No drinking. No tourist shit. Avoid all situations that involve haggling.
Delay and bad seat draw
It began badly with a two and half hour delay and a middle seat on the aircraft. I'd had an upset stomach the night before and it decided to rear its head the moment the plane began to taxi. I held my breath and concentrated. Five minutes, ten minutes. Watching the seatbelt light and hoping it would be turned off soon. I scanned the toilet doors, working out how many seconds it would take me to get there.
Fifteen minutes. I pressed the button to summon a steward for the first ever time in my life and asked if I could use the bathroom. Negative - we were still elevating, levitating or doing something. A few minutes later, envisioning ending up in some Moroccan jail due to disorder on the flight, I made a break for it - but at the exact same time a woman behind me did the same with her son. Both toilets now occupied. I waited in the aisle. I made desperate eye contact with the steward. He seemed to understand the severity of the situation. After the two longest minutes I can remember, disaster was avoided (just). The rest of the flight passed uneventfully but with a lot of opportunities to purchase scratchcards.
I arrived in Marrakech probably the least prepared I had ever been for a poker trip. Having never visited the city before, I had no local currency, no phone data and no map. I did at least know the name of my hotel which made me more organised than many of my fellow poker players are when they arrive (mentioning no names!).
My hatred for airport taxi drivers is deeply ingrained, so after picking up a few notes of local currency I followed the signs for the bus. I knew the casino was near the Sofitel and the driver nodded when I mentioned it as I purchased my ticket with my schoolboy French. Smooth.
We drove down some wide palm lined streets. I could not see the Sofitel and the driver did not motion for me to get off. Soon we were at the Jemaa el-Fnaa, the tourist centre of Marrakech. This was too far. The driver shrugged. It turned out that Sofitel was pronounced The Sofia 'Otel and he just assumed everyone wanted to go to the central square.
We travelled back towards the airport and I saw the decrepit sign of my hotel nearby. I convinced the driver to drop me by the side of a dual carriageway and schlepped it through the miasma of the traffic to the hotel lobby.
My room was massive and contained a single bed and no other furniture whatsoever. In certain places they would call this minimalist and charge you a fortune. I expected my room to be basic but this was just... odd.
I was already late, so I headed off the the casino with a ten minute walk through the Hivernage district of Marrakech. A bevy of horse and carts ferried passengers around. At certain corners the horses gathered and pooed a lot, swishing their tails in the heat. Meanwhile the drivers smoked cigarettes and shot the shit, touting for business when anyone who looked non-local walked past.
With the aroma of horse manure in the air, I arrived at the glamorous Casino Marrakech and it was time for some poker.