El albergue

El albergue

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Marrakech Diaries - Day 1

Marrekech is sometimes called the City of Red... understandably so!

Well, here we are in Marrakech, Morocco! Right now, we’re sitting in a friend of a friend’s living room, listening to birds chirping outside as we wait for him to bring back the fresh mint he went to get for the tea he promised to make us.

Coming through the chaotic streets in the back of the taxi on our way here reminded me of Bangladesh… we are definitely not in Spain anymore.

But it’s exciting to be here. We have no clue what we’re doing… but we’re going to be experiencing a lot of new things these next few days. To be honest, it feels a little surreal, as though we aren’t really in Morocco. Maybe we just need to get out and walk through the city a little…

We had a great plane ride over though. We happened to sit next to an older man from Asturias (in the north of Spain) who was traveling with his family, and he talked to us quite a bit, telling us about his travels and his kiwi farm, and even inviting us to come stay at the family bed and breakfast. At one point, his daughter came over from her seat with some home-roasted hazelnuts that he had grown and the grandma had cracked open with her own hands. They generously shared with us too – those nuts were delicious!

After filling out disembarkation forms and getting past the chatty man at passport control, we managed to exchange some euros into dhurams and find out way to the shuttle to the city center. When we got off in front of the crowded central square, all we could do was wait for our new friend (of a friend) and hope he would find us in the middle of the bustle and noise. What a sense of helplessness! We didn’t have to wait long enough to get anxious though, because we weren’t there for more than a couple minutes before he showed up with his little motorcycle. We introduced ourselves, then Kels and I followed him through meandering mobs of pedestrians, cars, and motorcycles as he tried to find us a taxi. He finally found one, gave the driver directions, and sent us on ahead of him… which might not have been the best option, because the driver apparently charged us more than double what he should have. When our host heard about the extravagant overcharge, he got a little upset. “Ah well,” I said, “c’est la vie.” I guess the fact that I used that phrase really tickled him, because he’s been saying it on and off since then, every time with a big grin.


After hanging out at the apartment and sharing wonderful fresh mint tea with our host and one of his friends, out other host finally got home from work. We hung out for a while, chatting and such, then headed on over to the medina, or city center, to look at the market and get dinner. When we got there, the market was throbbing with life. From food stands with swinging electric lights, to the street vendors’ clusters of exquisite lamps sending forth the quivering light of candles, to the rings of drummers and musicians pounding out their beat, to the inventive fair games attracting throngs of young and old alike, to the queer home remedy vendors selling dried lizards and ostrich heads (among other things), sights and sounds and images washed over us in waves of energy and light.

Oh if only this photograph could capture all the lights, energy, and
movement of the central square!

We wandered around for a while, soaking in the atmosphere, then we turned aside to a restaurant that our hosts like to frequent – one says that the food is both cheap and good, an unbeatable combination. And indeed, a truly unbeatable combination it turned out to be.

We had lamb tajine – a slowly stewed lamb that melts in your mouth with veggies that have roasted with it in a special earthenware dish, everything perfectly flavored with a rich blend of spices, featuring saffron and cumin, among other things. And when we dipped chunks of bread in a chili sauce and then the tajine juices…. it. was. delightful. Oh, but then, there was also the avocado “juice.” Oh man. Was that ever good! It’s an avocado blended with milk and a bit of sugar into a heavenly, creamy drink that invites you to drink more and more and more. It made me want to try making avocado ice cream….

Finally, a leisurely walk home talking about everything from reverse culture shock to Moroccan marriage practices, and here we are back at the apartment. One of our hosts has sweetly given us his big bed and is on a mattress in the living room. Such generosity!

No comments:

Post a Comment