I couldn’t suppress my excitement wandering the labyrinth of Marrakech. I heard so many mixed review about the place, I wasn’t sure what I was in for…
After one of those exhausting flights where you have to fight the urge to turn around and scold the person sitting behind you, where you have to practice patience and understanding, I was ready to experience the mysteries of Marrakech. Anything had to be better than that 3 hour flight full of first-time flyers, young children, and cancer-curing farts (google it, this is science).We survived what felt like a highway to hell in a flying tube of dread, and had our weathered passports weakly beaten by an uninterested customs agent with a Moroccan visa stamp. That was enough to provide me the satisfaction of getting those extra pages sewn into the middle of my international identification document, my most prized possession ;)
After haggling a good price for the taxi to take us to the main medina, I hauled my small tactical bag full of toiletries, electronics, and clothes through very lively herds of people who were all reenergized after a day of Ramadan fasting. My senses were overwhelmed. At this point in the night, after a 14 hour journey from Paris, I was running off pure happiness as a form of adrenaline flowing through my veins. I’m finally here. The Morocco that was planted in my mind 7 years previous. Around me lights bulbs pierced the blanket of night, revealing ornate prints as the light reflected off of polished metal lamps. A horn was playing as a man charmed a cobra, a tambourine in one hand and a cautious eye on the snake. One man stood tall with a hawk on his shoulder; another sat on the balls of his feet, a monkey on his shoulder. The smell of spices drifted through the air, stall after stall serving foods we had never smelt before, food we couldn’t wait to taste.
While in search of the ‘hidden oasis’ style guesthouse nestled back in the maze-like streets, I wandered past food stalls full of delicious smelling dishes, shops full of exotic clothes, leather works, jewels, lanterns, paintings, and many fresh orange juice stands. My ears were overwhelmed with snake charmers, beggars, buzzing motorbikes, and street auctioning in the sort I’ve never encountered before. Overstimulation at its finest… all-the-while I was sizing up the people, customs, and safety of my newest residence.
After many wrong turns down the colorful dwarfed alleyways, we finally arrived at the place we would call home for the next couple nights. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic at the ‘hostel,’ if you can even call it that. A friend of a friend had recommended the place for $12 a night. We were sleeping in a 6 person dorm room of course, but who needs a room, except to sleep when you have a beautifully decorated, open aired, small mansion of a building with an infinity pool? The riad (guesthouse) was shaped like traditional community houses, for the travel community.
In my first two hours in Marrakech, I felt so certain that my life was on the right track. I was doing the things I dreamed of, and living the nomadic lifestyle that was destined for me. My appreciation for life deepened, and I felt a rush of inspiration by the mystery of the place. Admittedly, this feeling often happens when I visit new, exotic countries, but none quite like this. This was a totally different kind of lifestyle that I couldn’t wait to dive into.
The following day after a goodnights rest, thanks to my ever-handy earplugs, I roamed the streets of Marrakech simply in observance. How the locals lived, how they dressed, how they worked. I was fortunate to have been traveling during Ramadan – in the heat of the day, the hawkers seem slightly depleted of the energy they need to harass the tourists for money. They were often napping in shaded spots on the street while the most of the women were in their homes or at the market collecting ingredients for the nights feast.
I still struggle to find the words that adequately describe the sheer vibrancy of Marrakech. I was certainly on a travel high for the first 24-hours, before I had more time to dig into the darker side of Morocco.
Check out THIS article to discover more about the misadventures we encountered in the country.
Read more about our trip into the Sahara Desert.