Marrakech did not have particularly auspicious beginnings.
My flight was at like 7-something in the morning, so I did not sleep, which I know is never a good idea, but I keep doing it anyway. And I couldn’t sleep on the plane, because of course.
So I got to Marrakech Medina airport and went to withdraw some dirhams for the bus and hostel, and, whoops — couldn’t. I’d transferred some money and had not taken into consideration the weekend + MLK holiday, so my money was still stuck pending.
I had enough euro to exchange for the bus, at least — though I’d just exchanged a fuckton of random currency into that euro, so ate like twice the exchange fees — and the hostel was chill about “pay us whenever before you leave,” but it still left me rattled right off the bat.
And no matter how much you prepare yourself for the constant assault of the taxis/hoteliers/merchants/scammers/etc etc — you are not really prepared until it hits you. Especially when you’re a tall blonde girl with half pink hair and a suitcase, very obviously cluelessly threading her way through the medina. By the time I made it to the hostel, I was seriously debating not leaving it again, and kind of regretting my decision to stay four nights.
But, as happens occasionally, it ended up one of the best times of my travels so far, and it’s always because of the people I meet. I like to think I’m friendly enough, and usually chat a bit with whoever I’m sharing a fucking bunk bed with or whatever, but I lucked into a room of ridiculous kindred spirits, talked for a couple hours with two new friends from Germany and two from Detroit, and made plans — which as often as not just fizzle, but we managed to not be assholes, and spent early the next afternoon at the ruins of El Badi Palace, built in the late 16th century, with two of my four new BFFs (that I had no idea existed 24 hours prior).
I had no idea really what to expect, but it was amazing. Lots of the old tilework had been partially excavated/uncovered, which really gave an unsettling idea of how impressive it used to be. And how lush; I know Morocco isn’t really a full-on desert, and has cool, wet winters, but the orange trees, man, as a Florida girl…
And one of the coolest things was that right when we got up to the tower, the call for prayer began around the city, and while I am about as far from a religious person as it possible to be, it really gave me chills. If I ever figure out how to embed video here without upgrading my account, I will. Also there were neat views and neat shadows.
After that, we threaded our way through the souks of Jemaa el-Fna to find a restaurant that seems to be only known as “the lamb place.” Dudes, I don’t like lamb, I barely like meat in general, and having just a kilogram of lamb set down on the table in front of us with some bread and loose cumin should have been offputting, particularly pulling it off the bone, but shit, it was delicious. And it was beautiful, warm in the sun and cool in the shade, blue skies a breeze.
We weren’t, like, angry at this particular moment in time, to say the least.
Eventually we made our way to the gardens of, I think, the Koutoubai Mosque, which was near our hostel. There was a group of dudes playing music in the gazebo, accompanied by some very friendly fellow who was most definitely on many drugs, but it was an awesome place to just sit for a little bit and relax.
Some of us may have relaxed more than others. 🙂
And finally, we ducked into the Saadian Tombs for about 20 minutes, just before they closed. Lots of beautiful architecture, lovely flowers and a really fucking fat pigeon.
SO THEN — this was not a not-tiring day — we rejoined the other half of our newly-formed weird little fivesome, wove our way back through the souks to some little travel agency in the medina, because apparently going to the Atlantic coast of Africa on a day trip with a bunch of dudes you really don’t know is a thing to do. And, it turns out, it’s an awesome thing to do. But this post is long and bloated enough as it is.
After walking through the dark, labyrinthine alleys — and as soon as we reminded ourselves there really wasn’t any danger, stumbling onto quite possibly a freshly dead man — we fought the gauntlet of dinnertime in the souks — which, call me ethnocentric, but, “Five years, no diarrhea, guarantee!” is not really a ringing endorsement — and got chicken tagine. Of which I was not a particular fan, but whatever the sauce was they served with the bread made up for it.
It was a good day. 🙂
Next post: Essaouira!