The rain was heavy, violent. Drops the size of ping pong balls. “Only 5 minutes“, my driver confidently assured me it would last. “Quick, run!“. We made for the car. Sadly there had been a miscommunication; it was the car that was five minutes away.
Travelling from the UK the irony of torrential rain in the desert is not lost on me as I dry my face with a napkin gratuitously given to me. “Not so bad“, the driver smiled. Not so bad at all. The excitement of a new place tends to overshadow the discomfort of soaked clothes.
Early morning, the sun already soothingly warm. The rains of yesterday long since forgotten. Breakfast on the Riad’s terrace overlooking a Jemaa el Fna coming to life; the main square of Marrakech, once a place of executions, now, a cacophony of spectacles.
The old city, Medina, is a place of trade, hustling, persuasion, and seduction. The smell of fresh mint tea at every corner. Your senses are bombarded with impressions, at first it’s difficult to make neither heads or tails of it all. The tourists seem to cling to each other for comfort like leeches at a tropical party. “Move!“, came the alarming shout. Like so many bewildered men and women before me I had broken the local traffic rule of the Souks; keep to the right. The middle lane is for mopeds. Lots of mopeds.
Once you start making sense of the chaos, you start to see; colors, light, people, gestures. Like a carefully orchestrated dance of magic. It’s no coincidence that Marrakech has earned the nickname The Red City; the terracotta buildings stand in stark contrast to the various wares on sales; sandals, carpets, bags, spices, all in a multitude of colors. They all come at a hard bargain.
Come nightfall and the sounds of snake charmers, Berber dancer drums, and monkey wielding trainers change into the calls of the food stalls. Jemaa el Fna transforms remarkably quickly from a scene of spectacles to a scene of food. The smoke from grills lay thick. Spices so thick in the air you can taste it. Mouth watering. There’s no shortages of options; sheep’s brain, snails, sausages. You sit down and hope for the best. Most of the time you’re not dissapointed.
Marrakech have a strange effect on time, it’s like it disappears into thin air; and as I sit in the taxi back to the airport I’m somewhat dazed and confused. I now understand what it feels like to be taken through the endless spin of a tumble dryer, filled with sounds and spices. The city is exotic and intriguing, occasionally unforgiving for the weary traveler. But when you decipher the flow it’s as tantalising as the snake charmer’s flute; luring you back in for a second serving.