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Published: November 14th 2019
Tizwa geen and eco friendly policiesThree days in Marrakesch.
guests are encouraged to join the green
The blog has been all over the place, I know. Tangier to Algeciras made sure of that.
I'm doubling back to Marrakesch because it wasn't given full cover, apart from our lovely riad.....
Our guest mansion (Riad Tizwa) was perfectly located. Selecting accommodation online isn’t the easiest thing to do, there are so many options available all glowingly described. It takes plenty fact-checking plus imagining what the facts could translate to in reality. I looked for a place where we could walk at will to some of the city’s major attractions, getting there without taxis or transport, free to move when and where we wanted. Tizwa was that. The #1 attraction in Marrakesch is the thousand year old Medina
, a UNESCO World Heritage site. madīnah al-qadīmah
"the old city" lies within high stone walls - a giant labyrinth of narrow alleys (some only 3 feet wide!) for pedestrians and animals like mules to pass through. No motor vehicles. The medina has Quartiers
containing a mosque, a hammam (bathhouse), a communal bread oven, a madrasa (educational institution) and a water fountain, which serves the entire community. And Souks
The door to Tizwa in the medina off Dar el Bacha
within the walls of the medina residential streets are narrow and quiet
- traditional street markets loosely laid out according to the products for sale ... carpets, dyes, spices, leather goods, metal goods, carvings, food, clothes and more
Handicraft making employs a significant percentage of the Moroccan population, who sell their products at the souk. Cooperatives like FATNA Co-op integrates and supports disabled women. We bought from their array of argan oil, cooking spices, medicinal plants, incense and traditional perfumes etc. I bought perfume blocks
which I’d never seen before. As of today they are still filling the air in my bathroom with their subtle fragrance.
Tizwa wasinside the Medina,
on the outer edge. A 10 minute walk away from Djemaa el Fna
- the busiest square in Africa. In the day
there are stalls selling fresh orange and pomegranate juice, water sellers with traditional leather water-bags and brass cups, horse and buggy rides for tourists. And snake charmers who mesmerize cobras with flutes and drums
..later in the day
the square gets more crowded and the entertainment changes - Chleuh dancing-boys/acrobats, story-tellers (in Berber or Arabic, for local audiences), magicians, henna artists and peddlers of traditional medicines.
the square transforms again filled with rival food vendors under large white tents battling for customers. It’s a hot mess of sights and sounds combined. The aromas are delicious and choosing is difficult among local specialties tajine
(my personal favourite) cous cous, harira soup ... the list coninues. Give in! Sit down at the table of a “host” and be fed. It is a rumbunctious and entertaining dining experience. Under the big white tents there is food. Meanwhile in the rest of the square things are going on, groups of people cluster around entertainers, families stroll under the stars, children at play. This is the open space, the "park" and recreation area for millions of people living within the narrow alleys of the Medina. It is not a green space either, but a wide expanse of concrete. But it's what they have and they make full use of their square, Jemaa El Fna. Koutoubia Mosque
is the city's prominent landmark 250ft high, it can seen from everywhere. We saw it on our Red bus hop-on hop-off City Tour, which took us past important modern buildings and parks, the main Mall, along modern roads and highways lined with
date palms, allowing glimpses of the everyday lives of Marrakeschis. We saw the city gates, for access through the walls of the Medina in ancient times. We saw gardens and palaces.
But the highlight was our camel ride at Palmeraie Gardens
. Led by a Berber who wrapped us in beautiful protective Berber Blue scarves, we loped along for 45 minutes within a confined acreage. It was hot, barren and deserted like the Jordanian desert of the Bedouin where I first rode a camel two years ago.
Hassan from Tizwa recommended we dine at Restaurant Ksar Essaoussan
. Reservations were made and he led us through the labyrinth to its door. It is a magnificent building 600 hundred years old with carved wooden beams, impeccably preserved. This too was a Riad. First we had a tour of the building. A view of Koutoubia mosque over the rooftops. Then, being seated, our hands were washed! Bowls of olives and nuts arrived. Wine and menu choices selected. A very good Moroccan red arrived and we dined on wonderful Moroccan cuisine stylishly served by our Berber (dressed in blue)
two way traffic in the souk
mule and human drawn carts move the goods along
waiter. Mint tea ended the meal, poured with a flourish from a height of 3 ft into small glasses, without spilling a drop. Then our Berber guided us back through the labyrinth to the main road. This had not merely been a meal, it was an experience. We loved it.
Three days whizzed by and it was time to leave Marrakesch for the train journey to Fes, the religious centre of Morocco. We left this modern bustling city, the country’s 3rd
largest, with some regret at not staying longer.
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