Africa, Destinations, Journal, Morocco

Marrakesh Express

June 30, 2014

I don’t really know how to spell Marrakesh. Crosby, Stills and Nash spell it with an “sh” yet, I’ve also seen it endlessly with a “ch” as well… Whatever it is, Marrakesh/Marrakech is quite a unique city. I feel like I could write a thousand posts from only the few days we were there…

morocco19 This was my first time ever coming to Africa. Morocco is in the northwestern area of the continent, and is not stereotypical to what people think of when they imagine Africa. Morocco feels much more of middle eastern influence. The languages spoken are Arabic and French. I took French I and II my freshman year of high school–since that was pretty much 10 years ago, I only remember basic greetings and how to count to 10. So, if I run into any two-year-olds, I could have a great conversation. Beyond that, I can’t really contribute to navigating this country. morocco6 Our hotel was in the Kasbah, which is the old city of Marrakesh. The Kasbah was pretty intimidating to me when we first got a taxi from the airport to where we are staying. It almost feels like you are stepping back in time. There are little markets and open-air shops on both sides of the cobblestone streets. The shops filled with gold and silver tea pots and platters, overflowing bags of colorful spices, and some are packed to the brim with knick-knacks and snack foods covered in Arabic writing. morocco21 Morocco20 Women are covered from head-to-toe and men wear a variety of things from the traditional long tunics, to modern, westernized t-shirts and jeans. Your eyes never get a break. People are darting through traffic on motorcycles through the narrow streets and kids seemingly pop up everywhere, chasing each other. A kid sat on the street and waved around his kite that he made out of a plastic grocery bag and a piece of string. Old men sat on tables outside of the food carts playing cards and smoking cigarettes. We would have never found our hotel without the aid of our taxi driver and a kid named Amid, who promptly helped us weave through the allies to the seemingly unmarked door–that was our hotel. palace3 Our hotel was called Palais Calipau, and it’s a little hidden gem [diamond in the rough, if you will] in the middle of the Kasbah. When you step through the small door [literally all of us had to duck and step over a small ledge on the doorway] you immediately feel like you enter a Moroccan palace. I’m thankful that we found a nice place, but going in there after just passing all of that activity, made me feel a bit icky… It’s not fair that we get to step into this palace, and the kid outside in the alley only has a toy made out of a grocery bag. I won’t go into a rant about inequality in the world, but it did impact me. Moving forward, we were very thankful to have found this place. It truly was gorgeous. It had an open roof, so tiny birds would fly in and out as we sat and waited for the staff to show us our room. morocco26 morocco25 We were greeted with a pot of mint tea, and waited for about 15 minutes on purple velvet couches for someone to show us to our room. The room again, has the smallest door. I feel like I’m in Alice and Wonderland, and I just keep growing taller and taller. The room was simple in accommodations, but was lit completely with ornate lamps and doorways, which made it feel really authentic. morocco24 Our first full day, we wandered around the souks [the markets] and went to a bunch of sites. We saw the Saadian Tombs, Ben Youssef Medrassa, along with some other palaces. What is most amazing to me is the architecture and details on the buildings. There is such an ornate attention to detail in the architecture that is just incredible. morocco11 morocco18 morocco15 morocco14 morocco17 morocco13 morocco16 Morocco10 We wandered around the winding streets of the souks for a couple of hours as we made a circle visiting all of the places we wanted to see that day. It is really cool to experience this unique culture, but it is also really overwhelming. We got incredible fresh squeezed orange juice from one of the 20 OJ stands, saw snake charmers and even some monkeys. Apparently, it is “pick-pocket central,” but we didn’t have any problems with that. Maybe it helped that Dennis had his entire backpack on lockdown. Literally, he had every zipper padlocked–that should help. Dennis is very cautious, and I love and appreciate that about him 🙂 morocco23 morocco22 morocco27 morocco28 morocco29 morocco35 After we walked around the souks, we stopped at a restaurant for a bite to eat. As we sat down, we saw a bunch of people running away from the souks, toward where we were sitting at the restaurant. We got a little freaked out, not knowing what was causing the commotion. Vendors started rapidly putting away their products, and running away. A couple minutes later, we saw some police officers moseying down the street. We figured the commotion was that the vendors somehow aren’t licensed or something, so they have a created a pretty sophisticated chain of communication to warn each other that police are coming and to get out. We sat and ate our lunch. When we were just about finished, I felt something brush against my knee. I figured it was Dennis, but I looked for his leg under the table just to make sure. His leg wasn’t anywhere near my leg. I freaked a bit, and said, “Guys. I swear something just moved under the table and touched my leg.” They guys said yeah, right…and Andrew looked under the table cloth. He is a natural jokester and said, “Kels, don’t worry. It’s just a cat under the table.” There are stray cats everywhere [most of which are pretty sad looking, with bad hips and missing eyes], but Andrew always tries to mess with me, so I called his bluff. He said, “No. I’m not kidding. There’s really a cat under here!” Sure enough, there was a little cat sitting in a crevasse under the table–minding his own business, licking himself. Disgusting. Of course I flipped out. Don’t worry though, I’m alive [and no diseases yet…that I no of]. cat1 morocco12 Marrakech is a very unique place. It was a good experience and I’m glad we went, though it probably won’t be a place that I visit again. The one thing I really wanted to do when here was ride camels–and we did! Camel post to come soon… Until next time, xo Kelsey

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