Thursday, September 18, 2014

Marrakech

On our 2nd day in Marrakech, as we walked through the souk on our way back to our Riad (local small hotel) I saw a man with the widest round eyes I have ever seen in real life. He was looking around the busy market, the explosions of colour, the sounds the smells. Our first taste of the souks in the Medina had felt just like that and the amazed look is probably how we appeared the night before as we first walked through the same market.

 

We arrived into Marrakech airport at 18:15. The arrival hall was packed with a line that snaked back and forth. Resigned to a long wait, we did the one foot in front another shuffle, that such a line necessitates. As we reached one corner of the zig-zag, a stretch of the guide ropes had dropped and people started coming straight on instead of joining the zig-zag line. Glaring at them got no response and Andrew's attempt to re-affix the guide rope failed, so we left the people behind us to fight their own access/merging battles. As we made our way down the straight two things happened. Two young guys behind us kept hitting my small backpack - leaving no personal space so a bit of glaring, following by an 'accidentally' swinging bag, then a polite request to desist was followed up with some short sharp words from us in English and French. Luckily about the same time a guard opened the guide rope and pointed Andrew and I to a newly opened immigration desk. We charged toward that desk and effectively bypassed 90% of the people in the original line. So you win some , you lose some.

 

After changing some money and retrieving our bags (we were the 1st people through from our flight) we went into the arrivals halls and found our pre-arranged transfer driver. He took us into the city a few kilometres away as our heads swivelled from side to side looking at the new sights.

 

We were met on the edge of the Medina (old city) by someone from our excellent Riad Al Mamoune and we were lead through the mass of humanity that had congregated at Djema El Fnaa Square (more about that later) and then through the teeming souk (market). Brightly coloured leather, fabric, lights, spices were everywhere.

Having dropped out suitcases we went back down to Djema El Fnaa to have a meal at the market stalls that are set up each evening. The following evening we sat above the square and watched the set-up process. Carts carrying stalls were wheeled into the square where gradually a night market appeared.

 
 

As day turned to night the snake charmers and ceramic sellers disappeared, to be replaced by dancers and storytellers.

Each stall has a few young men that try to get you to eat at 'their' stall. They are masters of language swapping between Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish as they stalk their prey. The do accents, they spout sayings from "free air-conditioning", "guaranteed diarrhoea free for the last five year" or "remember stall 77, it will send you to heaven". If you try to ignore them they say smile, it not so bad, or is your husband treating you badly. They are certainly persistent.

The carts of orange juice sellers were also professional attention grabbers, and passing them them without getting cajoled was next to impossible, but all good-natured and fun. The freshly squeezed juice is also well worth buying.

 

We had an ok meal at a random stall and then checked out the happenings around the square.

One thing we have noticed, and it is hard not to do so, is the number of donkeys - everywhere. In the medina, in the countryside, in the traffic...

 

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