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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Marrakech-Part 1

I have been to Marrakech several times; this recounts one of my first experiences of this very vibrant Moroccan city.
The very 1st time I in was in Marrakech (4+ years ago), the first thing I did was to go to the Jamaa El Fna, better known as The Square’ or as the local call it ‘Jamaa’ or ‘La Place’. And I found Jamaa incredibly scary.
The 2nd time I went I embraced it – so to speak – and really enjoyed it. As my riad was around the corner from Jamaa, I was in and out of it at different times of the day. La Place is a huge square and very confusing, especially at busy times, if you have not been there before and got your bearings.
The 2nd time I got to see her it was deserted, early in the morning, when the street cleaners were giving her a thorough cleaning before it all started again. Then at mid-day when the stall holders started preparing for the days’ trade. At dusk the lights and music were enveloping you as you went around and early evening, when it reached its peak, with its music, noisy, smoky and busy atmosphere, which all make it part of her charm. At night it become more manageable, a little less noisy and almost in a relaxed mood. I am sure that going through during the day helped me to demystify it. I got my bearings and I learned not to get lost and – very importantly – to get back to my riad!

Jamaa is a very large and irregularly shaped square. In fact not at all a square more like and elongated trapezoid shape and therefore it’s easy to take the wrong corner/alley. Get your landmarks and in no time you are wondering around it like one of the locals (minus motorcycle – more of these later). I have run a couple of videos and I hope they are good enough to give you an idea of it.

Jamaa in the evening lights reminds me that as I was filming one of these, locals were not aware of what I was doing – as I was using my camera and clearly not taking pictures as my camera was at arm’s length and I was walking - so as I was wondering with my camera set to ‘video’ I got almost thrown at a snake (yuck! :-~) and a monkey!! It seems a lot of tourists in Marrakech relish the idea of having a picture taken with a monkey or a snake on or near them! No accounting for tastes, and can you imagine the fleas on the monkeys? Because they did not seem at all very clean or well looked after!

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