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Marrakech

April 16, 2007

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We weren’t crazy about Marrakech, maybe because we had a rough start, but we are glad that we saw it. Perhaps it was not our cup of tea because we are not shoppers or because it was so loud, frenzied and filled with tourists and people trying to attract the tourist dollar. Nevertheless it is legendary, so we were glad to
hire a guide and take in the sites of the famous souks and such. We still have the romance in our consciousness from old songs like “Marrakech Express” from our younger days that made it a “must see”.

We had heard from several people in Fez, who went to Marrakech first, that they did not like it, but I was still expecting to enjoy it. Like Fez, it is very busy, maybe even more so as it feels like a big city. There are donkeys here too used for transport, but many more cars and motorbikes adding to the chaos (since Fez medina has neither which helps). Plenty of people like Marrakech, so perhaps we just needed to see it through the eyes of someone who loves it.

The bustling, colorful, aromatic atmosphere is exciting and gives you much to look at and absorb like a giant exotic flea market. I was shocked to find out that slaves were sold in the square where Mozart is standing by the baskets up until 1960! Ugh!

Mozart picked out a pink traditional outfit with jewels that she insisted on wearing most of the rest of the trip early on our shopping excursion in the souks. By this point she needed a fresh outfit, so it worked out good.

The spice shops in Morocco are so very interesting. We did not really want or need anything, but they were fun just to look at as we have never seen anything like them. I love how they pile them up like a cone and other displays. One spice seller got out a lizard of some kind to entertain Mozart even though he knew we were just looking.

We saw more craftsmen working, even children sometimes. The crazily dressed watermen are quite a sight, not to mention the infamous snake charmers. It does not all have the full shock value that it had when we first arrived in Morocco, but there are some things that are unique to Marrakech.

Djemaa el-Fna is the focal point and main square in the medina of Marrakech, so we made sure we did not miss the obligatory sunset tour of the madness from snakes to guys putting on a show dressed as women belly dancers. The open air food stands are interesting to look at, even though we had no intention of eating there. Since I am not crazy about massive, crazy crowds, I was glad to move up to a nearby rooftop cafe where one can observe it in a more relaxing, detached way.

We were feeling kind of sensitive and quiet after our profound experience in the Sahara, so the big city crazy vibe was not that compatible to our frame of mind. We enjoyed our time in the riads as much as anything in Marrakech and we met a lovely couple from the UK at breakfast one morning, that even invited us to stay on their rural property near London when we visit that area.

We did attempt to go see some gardens and sights, but it was so crowded that we ended up just telling the taxi driver Ali to take us back to the riad. I am sure they were beautiful,but we have seen a ton of Arab architecture and gardens lately and this was just not our time for them. We caught glimpses of the city as we drove and walked around. We were going at a pretty intense pace with a child so reading, spending time in the pools in our riads, eating delicious food, watching the breeze blow the curtains back and forth while resting in bed and contemplating a perfect rose was as important as anything else we did in Marrakech.

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