11/1/08

Marrakech, Morocco



The train from Casablanca was delayed last night, something which isn't really unusual for Moroccan trains. We even had to stand part of this journey as all seats were occupied. Worse, some passengers were generous enough to puff their nicotine into our nostrils. We arrived in Marrakech close to midnight only to find vultures masquerading as taxi drivers preying on weary passengers. Not even our reincarnated Arabic could stop them from their extortionist ways. We finally stumbled into our joining point at the Hotel La Menara, feeling like we've already traveled so far even before our trip with Intrepid Travel has started.

Our group met for the first time at the hotel lobby. Steve, an Aussie, is leading us in this journey. Like all previous groups I've joined, we're a mixed crowd of 11 adventurers from different parts of the planet and the usual hi, where are you from? was the ice breaker. After a late lunch, Steve herded us all for a walk around the old part of town. The hotel happens to be just outside the medina walls. We started at Bab Nkob, one of the medina gates that lead to the imposing Koutoubia Mosque.


The spectacle unfolding in Djemaa El Fna (Assembly of the Dead) is something I've never seen elsewhere. This square in the middle of the medina is the focal point in Marrakech. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's alive and pulsating with an energy almost like Times Square in New York but very unique in what it offers. This is where fortune tellers, story tellers, snake charmers, water sellers, jugglers, and musicians do their stuff. This is where vendors of all sorts from freshly squeezed orange juice to herbs to fruits and sweet mint tea jostle for customers. This is where the mules meet the motorbikes, where Morocco's traditions never get intimidated by what's new. It's even livelier when the sun sets, reaching an atmospheric high at night when the music gets even louder and the crowd gets bumper to bumper. This is the Assembly of the Dead? Djemaa El Fna is certainly not!
Deep down through the labyrinthine alleys of the medina, Moroccan shop-keepers holler"konnichiwa!", perhaps trying to get my attention to buy something or maybe just to point me out among the Caucasian tourists. "Please, please, Iwant to show you something!" Mel and I are the only Asian-looking members in our group and believe it or not, we tend to stick out in this part of the world. For most of them, Pinoys look like Japanese. I shot back a French "Bon jour" with an Arabic twist "Keif hallak sadik!". The stuff they sell in the souks are quite interesting but I have to restrain myself: I'm not here on a shopping expedition...yet.

1 comment:

  1. pwerte uy, pagkalaagan na lang gyud!nindot...

    ReplyDelete

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