Yesterday we arrived safely in Marrakech. It didn’t take us long to find a guest hotel off the main square, called the Djemaa El-Fna. This is where many tourists (as well as locals, from what I observed) gather to eat at the many food stalls offering kebabs, lentil soup, goat head, snails and many other regional dishes. There are also carts heaped over nine feet high with dried apricots, sesame-covered peanuts, salted almonds, figs, dates and pumpkin seeds, to name a few. This is where many young men working for vendors will try and lure foreigners to their food stalls by repeating funny little catch phrases like “Stall number seven takes you to heaven” and “No money, no honey” (presumably to the male tourists?). Scattered throughout this square are also some very stereotypical spectacles, such as snake charmers (yes, the real thing, though I am doubtful they still have venom) and unyielding donkey carts. There is an incredible experience of sights, sounds, tastes and smells in Marrakech that makes this stop on our itinerary nothing short of sensory overload.
Today we ventured into the souks (shops specializing in goods ranging from textiles and herbs to metal work and leather products) to find out what deals were to be made. Before delving too far into the labyrinth of goods and the vendors eager to give us the “good price” of the day, we stopped for breakfast at a little nook of a restaurant. I had a warm flatbread (much like the roti I had in Malaysia) drizzled with honey and folded in three – it was delicious! We each had fresh squeezed orange juice as well, which was incredibly refreshing. My bill totaled 10 Dirham, about $1.20. Our shopping adventures took us to a leather shop for wallets and a fabric dying area where I found what I was hoping to find: beautiful wool yarn. I’m not sure how I will make it home with everything; I may just have to check an extra bag or mail a few things home.
This afternoon we toured tombs and a palace. Much of the artwork and architecture is very similar to that of La Alhambra in Granada. Tomorrow we are heading to a port town on the Atlantic coast. More to come!