July 03, 2008

A-Ssalaam âlikum fi Mrkesh. I'd love to be able to write this post in Arabic, but clearly 3 weeks of language classes just isn't enough to become fluent in a language! I spent only 3 nights in Marrakesh, just off the Jmaâ el Fna which is the main square in Marrakesh. The 'in the shade' temperature was around 43C (109F), and in the sun it was closer to 48C (119F). Needless to say there was a lot of sweating, and even after drinking 3.5L of water and juice a day I was still thirsty.
Marrakesh is one of the main cities in Morocco, and also the most touristed. It's clear from all the hassle given to the tourists in the souqs and main areas that people in Marrakesh are used to ('stupid') tourists. I must admit that I was able to pick out the new arrivals by the fact that 1)despite the 48C heat they continued to walk in the middle of the road instead of in the shade (where it was only 43C) and 2)the gawking that was done when a donkey would go by carrying a big load of some product. Not to say that I didn't stand out as a tourist having light skin.
I'd been in Morocco for long enough that I was able to enjoy the cheap food at night, and the $0.30 orange juice served in the main square. I think I probably would've gotten very sick otherwise. The main square, the Jmaâ el Fna, is a hive of activity especially when the sun starts to go down, probably because it's just too hot to do anything while the sun is out. The square is full of orange juice sellers (drink with caution if you're new to Morocco), date sellers, food stalls that sell everything from tajine to harira soup to goat brain, snake charmers, musicians of all types, fortune tellers, magicians, Tuareg traders from the Sub-Sahara selling all sorts of eggs, skins, and traditional medicine, monkeys, Gnaoua musicians/dancers, story tellers, henna painters, and even a man who pulls teeth! It really is a site to behold, and continues until people leave, sometimes as late as 4AM. UNESCO has even declared the site and "Intangible Heritage Site".
Marrakesh really is a fascinating city, and I can see why it's so popular for tourists. It has the 'exotic' Orient feel, but also the Western comforts if that's what one is looking for. I'll be back to Marrakesh, and to see more of Morocco, Insha'allah.


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Anonymous said...

fascinating photos, seems like a very exotic place