The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Day in Marrakech

The following takes place on Day 179, May 25, 2011

Traveling with a group has its perks. You have more than one head figuring out how to get from one place to another; you end up doing things or seeing places you wouldn’t have before; and you also have the whole “strength in numbers” advantage. The downside though is that IMG_7184there’s a bit of compromise that comes into play. Marrakech was our compromise city. I would’ve enjoyed a couple days in this large city. In the end though, with a bit of discussion, we decided on only two nights and one full day in order to get a few days in Essaouira on the coast.

Marrakech has not had good publicity in recent months, with a deadly terrorist bombing occuring at a popular cafe in the middle of the main square of the Medina. I think this is the incident that many people back home had in their heads when they sent me messages to “stay safe.”

IMG_7150So with only the one full day in the city, we did our best to make it a full day. We purposely got ourselves lost in the Medina, I did attempt to find a geocache that was in the middle of the huge Djemaa el Fna which is one of the largest public square in Africa. During the day, you see dozens of separate kiosks selling fresh squeezed orange juice. There are also snake charmers, dancers, and women calling you over to get a Henna tattoo. Unfortunately for me, and to the entertainment of Jaime and Kelly, I couldn’t find the geocache. Too many people to do a good search.

Not deterred, I committed myself to soaking in the culture of the Medina. Although, I will admit that after Fez, the Medina had no appeal to me as much as before. It is fun to walk through, don’t get me wrong. But constantly saying “No, thank you” or the arabic “La, shokram” gets a bit tiring. Luckily, though, the shop owners are not persistant and as long as you’re firm but friendly in your decision, they’ll wish you a great stay and wave goodbye.

We stopped at a restaurant with a good view of a wide street in the Medina and had a great meal while Jaime used his telephoto lens on his camera to take what we ended up calling “assassin photos.”

IMG_7173After lunch, and after waiting out a random rain storm, we headed back to the hostel to pick up some more money in order to buy our bus tickets to Essaouira. On the way, we fell for the simplest trick in the book. We were walking by a couple Henna tattoo ladies when we got ambushed. Both Kelly and I, before we could jerk our arms away, had a tattoo being put on us. Of course, after, they demanded money for their services. The lady that had me wouldn’t even let go of my wrist until I paid. It was a bit unnerving. So I just took a bill out of my pocket, put it in her hand and hightailed it out of there. Jaime was laughing at both of us for having fell for that trick.

We grabbed more money from the hostel and walked nearly half an hour to the bus station. Even there you can get hassled and tricked into buying tickets on not-so-reputable buses. But again, so long as you’re firm and friendly, they’ll end up leaving you alone. We had done our research and knew which company was the most reputable to go with. So with that done, we headed back to the square through some random side streets(just for shits and giggles).

IMG_7208That night, after wandering the Medina and watching it transform from its day form to the huge open-air restaurant it becomes once the sun goes down, we found a great little vegetarian/vegan restaurant. This was probably the biggest and tastiest meals I’ve had yet. And probably the healthiest. The place was insanely chill. Hell, you could probably get high just sitting in there for a few hours it’s so chill.

So while it was a crazy short visit, I still highly enjoyed myself. I even have a tattoo as a reminder!

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