Published: September 12th 2012September 12th 2012
Lotty's version of events; I am falling for Marrakesh and its idiosyncrasies a little more every day! Once you begin to expect the unexpected you appreciate the complete assault on the senses and utter disregard of the rules is just a fact of life here! Today we visited the Medina... initially with a guide and then we braved it on our own and came out unscathed and not eaten by snakes! Our guide showed us round the intricate maze of souks and riads that make up the Medina. Explaining the history of the city from its 11th
century Berber roots when the defensive Medina walls were constructed to protect from land pirates to its 20th
century French occupation. We visited the old government palace, Ali Ben Youssef medersa an old coranic school and the museum of Marrakech. All were an insight into the history of Morrocco and examples of intricate and detailed architecture. We also visited the main square Jemaa el-Fnaa. During the day it is a collection of snake charmers, men with barbary apes, orange juice sellers and shops. With a Berber dentist thrown in for good measure. There are hundreds of horse drawn carts, some surprisingly healthy, others not
so. The monkeys are also pretty heartbreaking, dressed up with chains round their necks. We steered clear of them! During the evening the square is transformed into a sea of people with food stalls, story tellers, music and madness. We ate in a rooftop restaurant overlooking the bedlam. We braved the square for fresh orange juice which cost 4Dh (30p) tomorrow we plan to return and sample some of the street food, who knows what Marrakech will have in store for us then!
Planty's version of events; Well it has to be said, today was a pretty mental day by all accounts, we had a guided tour of the medina, and unfortunately our advertised “English guide” was actually a local Moroccan woman who had been learning English for 2 years, so already we had a slight language barrier. Although she had asked us what we wanted to see, I don't recall asking to see some old palace, a ceramic school, the worlds most boring museum or a traditional pharmacist, maybe that was the language barrier, maybe she was on commission to take us there, who knows! The medina is a pretty
backwards place, you can be walking down streets so narrow, but you'll get motorbikes passing through in each direction, whilst narrowly avoiding hitting pedestrians and overtaking horse drawn carriages. As stated in our earlier blogs, no one has right of way on Moroccan roads, it is basically a case of close your eyes and hope for the best.
After we had a basic idea of navigating around the medina and the main square, which also included me not running away like a screaming girl from the cobra's and other variations of snakes that were being charmed, we decided to brave it on our own at night! It seems to be the case in Morocco that as night falls, the true spirit, madness, chaos and culture come out to play. We thought we had seen it all in our hours spent earlier in the medina......this was not the case....! As we walked from the point were our hotel shuttle bus dropped us off, we had to do on of our most daring, dangerous and down right stupid things so far in Morocco.......cross a busy road! Doesn't sound that bad? The roads have no markings, roads that are wide
enough for one car in the UK are wide enough for 2 or 3 in Morocco, so we decided to act as if we were Moroccan.......just walk out, hope and pray that we would survive............and we did!
On our walk to a restaurant once inside the main square we passed a wide variety of sights and animals on show including, monkeys with skirts on, a man on a motorbike actually wearing a helmet (the first I've seen since we arrived) pigeons in boxes (for sale maybe?), chameleons and terrapins and also an old guy sat on his own trying to teach himself how to play the violin.....or at least that’s what it sounded like. All in all, as the days go by, Morocco seems to be asserting itself as the most outrageous north African country that we've visited, although we still have 4 days left for something more unusual to enlighten us...............
There are more photos below