El albergue

El albergue

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Marrakech Diaries - Day 2

We got invited to a Berber-style breakfast this morning! Our host’s friend had us all come upstairs to his apartment, where he served us more lovely mint tea to go with little anis breads, whole wheat flat bread, and Moroccan crepes that we either spread with Laughing Cow cheese or dipped in juniper honey from the Atlas Mountains and an almond/argon oil blend. It was so good! And even though they were often talking in Arabic between themselves, we didn’t feel out of place because our gracious breakfast host gave us some pictures from the guided tours he takes through the mountains or desert, so we got to look through those and wish we had time and money to experience all those beautiful sights for ourselves. Imagine it – 8 days trekking with a small group of tourists, cooks, camels, and guides, camping out under the stars… how awesome would that be!

Kels and I headed out on our own to the medina, just us and the map. No phone or anything else to help us if we got lost amid the twining streets with no street signs. We felt truly adventurous.

The Jardin Majorelle was like a miniature paradise of perfection.

First stop: Jardin Majorelle.
This garden is a gorgeously manicured collection of plants from all over the world brilliantly accented with bright yellows and blues. We spent a quietly shady hour or two slowly wandering around the paths, staging mini photo shoots, enjoying spots of sunshine, and actually feeling nicely at home among the other tourists.

I only wish we could have gone inside this mosque...
Second stage of the journey:
We meandered through a couple gardens on our way into the city, enjoying the view of he beautiful muezzin, or mosque tower, standing out over the city center. Once we got to the medina, we made our way through the assorted snake charmers, musicians, storytellers (we laughed when we saw one man playing a donkey with shoe soles in a headband for ears), and henna artists, slowly working our way to one of the many orange juice vendors.  And yet again, we got to experience a tasty treat as we sipped our chilled, freshly squeezed juice. I don’t know what made it better than pretty much any other orange juice I’ve ever had, but it was like bathing my taste buds in happiness.

So delicious.

Part three of our solo tour:
After getting suckered into buying a couple things in the souks (oh, how persistently persuasive these people can be!) we ended up getting a little lost. But we managed to get back to the main plaza via a rather giant, wandering circle and buy ourselves some delectable dried dates and figs. Oo boy howdy, were those dates good!!!

 The fourth and final stage of our walk:
We stopped by a local grocery store, partly out of mere curiosity and partly because we needed a few things to make pancakes for our hosts – we wanted to thank them by sharing a little of our own culture with them. We also ended up buying ourselves a couple treats too… How could we resist getting lovely Moroccan cous cous and muesli!

For dinner tonight, our host made chicken tajine. Watching tv as the savory scent wafted around the apartment was a little tortuous, but we finally sat down to eat family style, with bread and hands standing in good stead of silverware. He made us some more avocado “juice,” and for dessert we had perfectly ripe tangerines and bananas. It’s so cool getting to experience a little bit of at home life in a foreign country.

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