Never underestimate the power of a good shower (rhyme not intended). I’m sitting on what feels like the softest bed at our little Marrakech Riad called Riad l’Heure d’Ete, just steps from the city’s famous Jemaa el fna square. The Riad is much simpler than our last one, but still beautiful and comfortable, and has a nice terrace where we had tea earlier. Oh, and of course the shower. The glorious shower that isn’t shared with a toilet, where you can actually stand and have water hit you, and where there’s a little knob that lets you adjust the heat. Yes, heat, the shower has hot water! It feels like such a luxury now.
Marrakech is incredible. The best word that my tired mind can come up with to describe it is exotic, but I’m sure a million words perfectly crafted together wouldn’t do it justice either. It’s exotic in that there are monkeys running around and snake charmers sitting cross-legged on the ground with enormous snakes seeming to respond to their flutes and drum circles and pick pockets and everything else you could possibly imagine. It’s so different from Rabat, and so different from Fes, and so different from anything I’ve ever seen before. What they call the Medina is entirely different from the one we’ve been living in. Sure, it’s walled, but cars can drive inside the walls on paved roads, and everything seems very developed, especially for tourists. There’s no chickens or donkeys or other things like at. Our Medina is very set up for living, whereas this one seems to have another purpose entirely.
We arrived on the train around 8:45pm, paid way too much for a taxi, and then got dropped off on a busy pedestrian street with instructions of “go straight” to find our Riad. The instructions were completely useless as the Riad was anything but straight ahead, but we wandered up the busy street, doing our best to ignore all the salesmen calling out to us. Marrakech is definitely infinitely more touristy than Rabat. In Rabat we are the total exception, and people sort of know us and recognize us around the Medina. Here we blend right in with all the other tourists, and are treated that way too. I guess we looked a bit lost, because a man popped up beside us and ended up leading us to our Riad, asking after for 50MAD. We gave him 20, and stepped into the Riad before he could object.
Like I said, the Riad is beautiful. We have a really nice room with a huge soft bed, and there’s a little courtyard and the terrace is amazing. We got settled in and had some tea on the terrace before heading out to the big square.
After a few twists and turns, we found ourselves in this enormous square, alive with people. There were lights and smoke and music and drums… It was incredible. We wandered through the crowd past snake charmers – yes, real live snake charmers, and monkey trainers, and eventually fell victim to the beckoning smells of couscous cooking nearby, as well as the beckoning call of its salesman. They have all these little stalls that actually have little stall numbers that work as addresses, where they have restaurants set up selling couscous, tajine, and all the other famous Moroccan food. We hadn’t had couscous yet because Moroccans don’t eat it during Ramadan, so we were eager to try it. We sat right in the middle of the square at a little table and ate the most delicious couscous with the famous Marrakech fresh squeezed orange juice, and did our best to soak everything in.
Once we finished eating, we walked around the square and wandered in and out of the souqs, which are undercover and completely lit up to best show off all of the merchandise. If we weren’t heading out on a camel trek tomorrow, I would have been shelling out dirham after dirham for all the cool things they were selling, but there’s no way I could carry all that through the Sahara! In the square there were also these drum circle type things, sometimes involving what looked like magicians of some sort. We tried to steer clear of the bigger crowds since they’re hot with pick pockets, but could still enjoy the little spectacles being put on inside the circles.
Eventually we had to come back in since we have an early morning tomorrow. I wish we could stay longer, but I do think I have a pretty good feel for Marrakech. Since it’s Ramadan, night time is the best time to see a city anyways, and it was so incredible to see it tonight! It’s hard to believe that everything’s still going on outside while we’re tucked away at our little Riad!