Medina and Souks

After a stressed flight cancellation and almost failed new booking, we had to transfer from Brussels to Paris, delay for another day and ready to leave on 5 am next morning. Luckily, we were able to avoid the terrible Brussels attack. Next day, we were successfully landed in Essaouira by chance. Before the booking, I have to be sorry for my ignorant, which I had never heard of this beautiful coastal town before I checked the last minute flight.  At the moment, we were in an old, even a bit shabby taxi with driver wearing Arabic robe (djellaba),  the gentle sprig ocean warm, yellow landscape, argon trees and goats,  and the sense of travelling back to time, maybe 70-80’s. All were the typical image of Morocco where I have been familiar with, from media.

What is Essaouria? Though the city gate, the busy market appears. Not only busy, but it has a atmosphere to bring you sentries back. I do not know, probably the old Arabic days whichMorocco_mar2016 002 I have pictured in my mind. All sort of food merchants, men were lazy wondering, maybe discussing their life matters, or bargaining the price: a piece of fresh lamb meat, few chili papers……I thought that I have went back to the 80’s in China, but somehow different. Here is traditional way of living, but absolutely more culture based. Fish men were painting carefully their precious old fishing boats, blue, matching the beautiful sky and sea color from the eastern side of Atlantic Ocean. Fresh cached various fishes from the early morning were already on the market. From the way how they store these delicious and still alive fish, you know that is probably their simple and main resource of living. Off the day, they would not be on the good price any more.

Pass by the modern part of Marrakesh from central station, taxi brought us into the labyrinth like old Medina in Marrakesh. Our riad was hided somewhere deeply in the old Medina. Again surrounded by later afternoon bustling market, we were clearly lost as rare Asian looking tourists once we stepped out the taxi. Young men seemed very warmly to offer help to guide us to our destination, with little payback in the end, which we defiantly would not turn down after an early flight and long sightseeing day in Essaouira. Though the exciting fresh and authentic food market, after several similar turns we were in our very first home style riad, just like peaceful oasis in the Kjaki Medina.

One of my favorite experiences was walking though trod and markets aournd our riad, watching vendors were busy to prepare their daily business – chopping big chunk of lamb meat, making warm crepes for breakfast, sorting rich citrus fruits. Everyday morning starts from there, perfectly. Souks are just like spider net spreading around Jemaa El fnaa – the heart of Marrakesh. Either very much tourism based shops, or traditional handcraft business, you will nerve get bored or be able to explore souks deeply in few days time. They are just so fun and beautiful. At the meanwhile, around dusk, Jemaa El fnaa will transfer into another magic world in any possible way: snake charming, Arabic storytelling, dancing, juggling, food vendors peddling. I have been wondering where I am, and completely charmed and amazed. Scenes in one thousand and one nights, have been appeared in my mind. Time could just stop for this way of life, which has been lost long time ago, centuries ago.

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(All photos by Leee from Trip in Morocco, March 2016)

Other reading:

Morocco session two – soul of handmade