Mopeds and donkeys
28.03.09 — Marrakech 10:00pm
A day in the Medina–cries of “bonjour”, “hello” and “saluté”, people and smells, light streams through the roof slats, perilous corridors, souq mosques behind curtains, leather and metal, fabric and silver. Food, hastily cooked on rusty grills, smoke drifts across the souq, wood turned in tiny workshops, thé de menthe brewed on tiny stoves, shared between friends. People, sounds everywhere, movement, mopeds, donkeys, bikes, pushing, pulling, horns honking.
The souqs were everything I remember, but without the level of hassle I remember, making it a very pleasurable experience. We headed north through the main souq, coming out of the north gate. We visited the Ben Yousef Medersa which was an amazing building, hard to imagine 800 religious students in such small cells, the detail in the main courtyards was phenomenal.
We followed up our Medina morning with another trip with our friend Christian. We took the road to the south to a lake half-an-hour outside Marrakech, Barrage Cavagnac. There we had lunch, looking over the lake to the foothills of the Atlas mountains — the view was superb and only slightly spoiled as the rain clouds descended on us again.
Returning to the city we headed into the souqs again for some more mayhem before our appointments for hammams and massages. I had an excellent full-body relaxation massage, bizarrely to the soundtrack of The Godfather and A Fistful of Dollars. I stifled laughter as she pummelled me into submission. A very nice massage, one of the best I’ve ever had.
Our final meal in Marrakech was in Restaurant Jame, a little family-run place on Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid which was quite difficult to find, particularly in the torrential rain. The tiny streets of the Medina quickly turned to muddy rivers as we negotiated huge holes in the street (they are replacing the sewers slowly, leaving gaping holes in the street).
The restaurant was a delight, and dry. We sat in the converted riad garden and each of us ordered a tagine, myself a lamb and fig dish and the others a lovely looking vegetable dish. Delicious. The harira soup was spicy and thick, and we followed it all with an orange salad and the obligatory thé de menthe. A fantastic way to finish our time in Marrakech. A wander around the Djemaa el Fna, the sounds, smells and sights still fresh in our minds, was the perfect nightcap.
Marrakech and Morocco have been a different experience for me on this trip — my first visit here in 1997 was amazing, but there were occasional frustrations and upsetting attitudes from a few people, which have not been in evidence this time. It has been an extremely relaxing and easy-going experience this time — Morocco has welcomed us with open arms and we’ve embraced it entirely.