Friday, 6 November 2009


It was a struggle to reach our riad in Marrakech because the passages and alleyways were so cluttered with rubbish, and people coming and going from the market. The area did not look promising at all, and some kids even threw stones as we finally arrived at the solid wooden doors of our accommodation.

The transformation from the outer world to an inner space of serenity and luxury was extraordinary, and we were quickly made welcome with some chilled fruit juice. The layout was very similar to the riad in Essaouira, with a central courtyard open to the sky and several floors with balconies overlooking a modest fountain.

We had been given more or less the whole first floor of the beautifully renovated building, and there was no sign of other guests, though they were perhaps out exploring the city.

‘Let’s try and get a little rest Jess, we can go out later.’

‘We need to think about getting out of this bloody country.’

‘I know, it’s just that I’m not keen on the airport option, the security was so tight there.’

Jess lay on the vast bed and turned to face the wall, while I just sat looking at the vines and creepers spilling like a green waterfall over the marble balcony. I wasn’t really sure what to do, it seemed likely that the police would catch-up with us sooner or later, and I didn’t fancy explaining how bottling the policeman had been the only way of saving my lady.

I stripped-off and went into the large shower that was more like a substantial room in itself, and it felt good to wash away all the sweat and muck of our journey through the mountains. Omar had been a very friendly and helpful chap and seemed happy with his modest profession, driving tourists in that old, immaculately presented Mercedes.

After a couple of peaceful hours we set off for the Djemaa el-Fna, the huge main square, all the time trying to steer clear of any men in uniform. It felt quite easy to lose yourself in the crowds, and also to get seriously lost, as all we had was a very basic hand-drawn map from the riad owner.
It was around seven in the evening and the souk was still very busy; my eyes were drawn to a stall of multi-coloured handmade sweets, which were almost totally covered in black flies. I thought about the mostly orderly and hygienic market at home, but this kind of thing didn’t seem to concern any of the locals here.

Jess would normally have been enthusiastically exploring the endless variety of stalls and shops, but was unsurprisingly unable to shake-off the terrifying experience of the night before. We came to a small square where there were many caged lizards, rodents and birds, which I started to look at more closely, but then noticed that Jess was already walking ahead and out of reach.

I caught up with her not far from the entrance to the Djemaa el-Fna, which was buzzing with all kinds of activity and music. There were many tables with temporary seating serving-up food for locals and tourists, and the mixture of smells, smoke and noise was intoxicating and almost frightening. It was the lack of order and reserve, as we would understand it in England, which was so disturbing and also alluring.

Jess was standing near a snake charmer, and she didn’t even flinch when one of his assistant’s put a large cobra round her neck, though it made my heart skip a beat just watching. I gave the man a few dirhams and we continued our stroll, trying not to bump into people or be flattened by others.

‘Can we just get some food ? I’m starving.’

‘Of course, let’s go into one of these places high above the square’ I replied.

‘I don’t care where, I’m going to collapse soon.’

We chose somewhere more or less at random, which was serving both local and international food; we could have done with an alcoholic drink, but as with Taroudannt such options appeared to be extremely limited, except at the hotels. Our table had a fantastic view of all the human theatre being enacted in the noisy arena below, though Jess was still very quiet.

‘We will get home, won’t we ?’ she said eventually.

‘Of course.’


Frieda Babbley said...

You're blog is so cool and so gorgeous. I love it. I'm a new fan and follower.

A Good Moroccan said...

That's great, Frieda.

The Book Resort said...

Incredible! Gorgeous photos!

A Good Moroccan said...

Thanks for visiting !

Erika Jean said...

Good luck getting home ;-)

You have a lovely blog, you writing sucked me right in!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

A Good Moroccan said...

Thanks for coming over, Erika.