Friday, November 27, 2020
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Monday, November 23, 2020
After our second day in Marrakech we learnt how to identify the brown signs high overhead which marked the way to the Square. The return trip to our Riad was not so easy. Not once did we travel the same route. Twice, upon entering a new lane way youths standing on the corner yelled "You cannot enter. It is forbidden. Street closed because of Mosque!" Wanting to respect their culture we promptly turned back and they offered to show us the way only to once again confuse us in the lane ways and request money to point us in the right direction. We only fell for this ploy once. Marrakech was a daily challenge but one we are pleased to have met.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
The reddish brown clay and chalk walls surrounding the ancient Medina span some 19 kilometres and seeing them we could appreciate why Marrakech is sometimes called The Red City or The Ochre City. Contrasted with the blue sky they were constructed from 1126-27 over 800 years ago. Their purpose was protection but travelling both within and beyond them we could not help but question whether today they are walls of protection or confinement. Inside the walls contain palaces, mosques, museums as well as poverty, confusion and chaos.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
One edge of Jemaa El Fnaa is lined with souks, traditional North African Market stalls. It was the colour that hit us first. Yellow, deep blues, vibrant greens in the pottery, the leather goods and the spices. As we approached the souks the smells invaded us; cumin, cinnamon and vanilla. Hands reached out to greet us. “Where are you from”, the common hook. Every trader wanted us to enter their stall. Before we knew it we were buried deep within the souks agog with the sights and sounds avoiding the carts when a local called out “Balak” meaning “get out of the way”! The alleys narrowed and the darkness increased and we found ourselves at a dead end with several locals approaching us offering to show us the way out. “Thank you but No!” We turned and meandered until daylight and the fragrance of the spices returned.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
We saw the main square in the Medina, Jemaa el-Fnaa several times during our stay in Marrakesh and each time it was different. In the morning caravans selling orange juice, water and dried fruits dominated. In the afternoon locals vied for customers for photographs with their monkeys or their snakes, for henna treatments or more traditional souvenirs; wooden camels, scarves or Moroccan plates. Cavernous cafe’s with verandas shading chairs facing the Square allow the tourist to escape the heat of the day, have a drink and observe the chaos from a distance. It was at night when the square really came alive. Food stalls, barbecues, African drummers, dancers and soothsayers with a backdrop of a golden sun setting behind a mosque exaggerate the commotion with shadows. Many of the cafes have rooftop dining areas providing a ringside seat to the spectacle.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
It was our first morning in Marrakech and with the assault to our senses from the previous night still fresh it was time to brave the streets on our own. Jemaa el F’naa, the famous market square, was our destination, apparently only a 15 minute walk away. With some apprehension and as much of a mental map as possible, the Riad vanished as we turned the corner. The tourist map was buried deep in my camera bag. All the travel blogs warned not to take the map out in public as it was a signal that you were lost, a prime target to a Marrakechi that you needed directions for a fee. This advice was puzzling to me. Without the ability to read the map I knew I would most likely be lost anyway. Chances were that even with the map in my hand the maze that is the Medina would be unnavigable.
The photograph of the laneways with this post is one of my favourites and perhaps provides some indication of how easy it was to get lost.
Monday, November 16, 2020
We were not game to take any photographs of our harrowing taxi ride but the photo with this post provides a glimpse of the chaos which was to come. Ciao J.