Hello, Summer! And, yep, this lucky K got to spend its unofficial start in Morocco…The probable origin of its name is from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur (n) akush, which means “Land of God”. Hailed as the “Red City” Marrakech (the french spelling), is an important and former imperial city in Morocco. It has a population of almost 2 million (smaller than Casablanca) and comprises both an old fortified city (the médina) and an adjacent modern city (called Gueliz).
Why here? The markets, of course! And remember that marathon I missed due to my ski-ing injury? Well, I had to re-do Marrakech without a bum hip holding me back. So here it goes….my top 5 Highlights (a separate food post is forthcoming!):
1) The Square: The city has one of the busiest squares in Africa and the world, Djemaa el Fna. The square bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers, and musicians. By night, the square turns into food stalls, becoming a huge open-air restaurant with busy life (see more on food next time!).
Sellers were persistent here, not merely touching you, but grabbing you and pulling you close to their merchandise or handing it to you. There was this moment of being tired and trying to plan out our next moves when a woman interferred and offered henna. “Not now, I am having an argument with my boyfriend.” She said, “Maybe later,” but then proceeded to grab my hand, put some cheap henna on it and informed me this would help me get married and have lots of babies. She asked me where I was from, and I told her “venus”. The fella and I chuckled and couldn’t help but laugh at the humor of it.
2) Morning Yoga. Remember my rusty knee and the fact that my half marathon is coming up and I was feeling
a LOT of angst about not being able to follow through with my training schedule? Coupled with the angst of sharing a SMALL space with the fella and being with one another 24/7 and NOT being able TO RUN I figured I would about combust….
That didn’t happen….THANKS TO Chaz, at
I downloaded three episodes to my IPHONE and did one each morning. And each 30 minute bout left me a bit charged, but centered. And believe me, Marrakech is not the city you want to be jogging in around anyway. There are too many motorbikes, mopeds, electrical bikes, pedestrians, carts, horses and carriages and all sorts of merchandise, dirt, dust and lack of green pace as well as poor paths to enjoy a proper jog anyway. The yoga was perfect, and perhaps I should have done an hour session one morning.
3) A rock-climbing hike in the valley. First off…I guess I am used to marked trails. You’d think a path to 7 little waterfalls would be easy to find, but it’s not, due to multiple confusing trails that lead to surrounding shops and marketers waving you in what is either the direction of the path, or the way to their store. It was like the final stage of a video game attempting to hop through streams, locate the correct path, and dodge sellers along the way. And once on the path, multiple dodgy bridges, rocky passes and wet streams ensured that a little technical precision was called for…..but, the AIR! the sight of the VALLEY…and the sense of freedom was well worth the trek.
4) Market Bargaining. You’d think after getting my feet wet in Istanbul, and then diving in in China that I would be a pro at this. Well, maybe not a pro, but definitely not a novice either. The highlights of my market time truly were getting to hob-nob with market sellers. This one young man selling herbs and spices showed me this concoction that cleared the sinuses in about 5 minutes, and was said to cure snoring. But then, we shared a 30 minute conversation about culture, economics, learning languages, and being a woman in his culture. Such stimulating interactions. And the buys? I have a few top loves…Decorated BBQ skewers, an hanging lamp (intended for my patio for the summer and my table for the winter) and a lovely bold RED serving plate.
5) Urban Adventures with Intrepid Travel. Have you ever checked out this company? This past year, I’ve been able to join multiple tours with them and always find them sincere, intentional, and so educational. The personal style allows a socratic method of experiencing a place, a people to ensue, and aspects that remain dusted over by commericalized tourism can emerge. We participated in a historical walking tour as well as a cooking course, and accentuated the time there. (See a Post on Chicken Tangine Soon!)