Marrakech medina

I apologize for all the gushing prose, but I was completely smitten with Morocco…

Commercial streets in the walled medina of Marrakech bustle with activity. The old city is vibrant, cacophonous, and aromatic (when not downright smelly).  It’s fantastic and exotic and a little overwhelming.

The center of the action is Jemaa El-Fna, the main market square. Here you are surrounded by musicians, storytellers, snake charmers, lamp vendors, henna tattoo artists, fortune readers, and mint tea sellers.  There is no such thing as a pedestrian zone in Marrakech; in the daytime, taxis, Vespas, and horse-drawn carriages zip perilously around the stalls and shoppers. At night, cooked food sellers set up temporary restaurants arrayed with tempting displays of meat skewers, seafood, and colorful vegetable salads.

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When dodging the scooters and donkey carts gets to be too much, you can escape into the warren of arches and blind alleyways in the quieter neighborhoods – where you might get lost, but that’s part of the fun. There are no windows at street level, but sometimes an open door reveals a sumptuously tiled and painted interior. Marrakech oozes with oriental mystique.

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The geometric decorations in old and new buildings are eye-popping. Some of the most spectacular tile, wood, stone, and plaster work can be seen in the Bahia Palace. The house and gardens were built and decorated at the end of the 19th century by the sultan’s grand vizier.

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Dar Si Said is another lovely old house. It now houses the Museum of Moroccan Arts, which is interesting, but the intricately embellished upstairs rooms are the best part.

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Then there are the 16th century Saadian Tombs, which were hidden away and nearly forgotten until rediscovered through WWI aerial photos.

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Bargaining is the only way to buy a thing here. Other than restaurant food, nothing has a fixed price, and shopkeepers haggle enthusiastically. It’s like a game, and the object is for the thing to be purchased for an amount that makes everyone happy.

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About lornaofarabia

I am a teacher from Medford, Oregon. I currently live and work in Cairo, Egypt.
This entry was posted in Around Africa, Elsewhere, Food and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Marrakech medina

  1. Kathy Fritts says:

    After seeing the pictures, I also find myself smitten! Morocco has just been added to my bucket list. I can clearly see you are having the time of your life. Good on you!
    Random question: I’m having brunch tomorrow with a teacher friend who wants to teach overseas but can only get a one-year leave from her school (amazing drama teacher). Last year, some friends in Sri Lanka told me about their drama teacher who crapped out in the middle of the year, but my friend wasn’t ready to go at that point. ISS and Search won’t do for her, since it’s only for a year. Could you just keep this situation in the back of your head and if you hear of any drama openings, let me know?.
    Thanks, and I’ll continue to live vicariously thru your blog.
    Kathy Fritts
    P.S. Sounds like Medford teachers are at an impasse and may strike. Miss it??

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