Hello from Morocco! Adina and I are coming to you from our first country in Africa. After a very long travel day ending with a train in Marrakech and then making our way through the old quarter's twisting, weaving, and very confusing streets we managed to make it to our Riad.
A riad is a kind of guest house with an interior courtyard. Part of the Islam faith is that you don't show outward wealth - so almost all of the buildings are as plain as can be on the outside but have immense tile mosaics, pools, terraced roof tops, and even plunge pools to escape the mid day heat.
The old part of Marrakech - the Medina - is an absolute labyrinth of markets, shops, squares with markets, stalls, guys with monkeys, and even snake charmers with half a dozen cobras. Our first full day took us wandering around a kind of walking tour route to give us our bearings. After hiding out from what we thought was a hot day, we went on a food tour. This allowed us to not only have a locals knowledge but helped us further make our way through the weaving pathways
of the Medina. We ate the traditional meal which is called a tajine which is actually the method of cooking and not the actual food. It is a clay dish with a peaked lid that can be filled with meat, potatoes, vegetables, and of course spices and herbs. Making stops to eat olives, drink tea, visit spice shops, and see a local bakery finally took us into the cool part of the night when the main square comes alive with locals. It has the same atmosphere as a fair with people informally gambling with fair games, young people box in makeshift rings, and everyone has a good time. Noticing that the weather forecast had a high of 38 the next day we called it a night to get an early start on the following day.
We visited a garden formerly owned by Yves St Laurent prior to his death which includes a museum of traditional Berber wares. The museum is painted with an incredible vibrant blue hue that was developed by the artist Jacques Majorelle who was the original creator of the gardens and is the namesake of them and the paint colour. Unfortunately the gardens were not very
big which meant releasing us out of the shade of the date palms and back into the heat. A stop at an art museum in the new part of town left us with an opportunity to dine at an upscale modern restaurant that even serves alcohol. Having our first and what will probably turn into our last drink in this Muslim country as the mercury rose past 36 left us wanting more on our walk back to our Riad to escape the heat of the day. Our attempts at escaping the 38 degrees being rather fruitless we ventured back out for dinner of a tradition soup - Harira - which is never served chilled left us to find some bargains in the markets before leaving on a 4 day tour of the country and out to the Sahara dessert in the morning.
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