Tuesday, 3 January 2012


That song ran through my head, people got on and off, rain pounded against the windows, the train got slower and slower... 3 hours late it arrived. A taxi ride to the Medina and another Ryad.
In the morning we hear the bleating of an animal down below. Looking down I could see a grilled hole in the centre of the room into the main kitchen where the animal was being kept.
Looking up, another balcony and then a covering over an opening which used to be open to the skies. Makes for good airflow (drying laundry!) and interesting acoustics.
Up on the roof it was possible to see all around, the ubiquitous satellite dishes and mosque towers along with the hint of mountains to the south through the smog. Impossible for me anyway, to get a sense of where we were in the Medina with just roof tops as far as one could see.

Out the front door a press of people, mopeds and motorcycles whizzing past, shopkeepers enticing us with offers of tea and promises that we don't have to buy anything. Yeah right.

However there seemed to be less push, less intensity and I felt a more friendly atmosphere than Fez.

The experience there had jaded me slightly so I was more wary and we spent more time exploring outside the Medina, watching numerous sheep go by trussed and not, transported in all manner of vehicles.

I spotted Chicken of the woods (a mushroom!) in a park
and a dinosaur slide.

It was tempting of course, so many baskets, musical instruments, carpets and beautiful handcrafts. We watched a master craftsman felting bowler hats in rainbow colours and Elke almost bought some shoes.
Always there were more photographic opportunities, examples of the plaster and tadelakt in the Royal Theatre, museum and Koranic school, plus wandering around looking for lunch down one passageway after another finding ourselves not where we expected.

The big square beside the Medina in Marrakech, Djemaa el Fna is deservedly famous for it's musicians, storytellers, snake charmers and food stalls. Night time brings out masses of people, motorcycles streaking through the crowds horns beeping, l.e.d. lights shot skyward on mini parachutes, and every food stall with a man or two trying to lure us in to sit and eat. Each one "the best" and when a customer returns the next night spontaneous applause from the cooks and waiters. This IS a competition!
A variety of cuisine, from vegetarian to animal organs, including stalls dedicated just to snails. We had seafood one night, finishing off with spice chai and some strange dessert, looks like chocolate but isn't, sweet with a chalky consistency.
Standing beside a crowd listening as men played a variety of unfamiliar instruments ... wait I recognize the drum, the tambourine and is that a BANJO?!
We're "invited" in to sit after dropping a few coins in the hat. These masters of persuasion had tourists joining with the woman dancing. Elsewhere a heavily made up woman dancing... then the penny drops, it's actually a man!

In the morning the juice stand vendors won't let you by easily, not making eye contact is the best strategy, although fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit is hard to resist.

Water sellers, horse drawn carriages, henna tattoos for luck, incense and herbal remedies, knit and crocheted hats and men with monkeys.
Those last I found a bit hard to take. Give them money encouraging the enslavement and likely abuse of some innocent humanlike animal?
I don't think so.

In our travels around we saw many offers for excursions, to the desert, ride a camel, see the gorges. We negotiated a good price and in the morning, stood expectantly waiting...

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