21-25 Feb 2014
Words can't do justice to the experience of Marrakech at night. A riot of noise, colour and smell that overpower the senses and envelope you totally so that you become part of it.
The central part of the square becomes a huge BBQ pit as dozens of restaurants are erected every night and compete to entice the throng to eat at their stall. Young men roam the alleys between with menus advertising their stall and offer increasingly better deals than the others to get your custom.
Everything imaginable is being cooked on charcoal fires from snails to whole sheep's heads, tagines of every desciption, skewers of beef,chicken and fish, soups and salads followed by pastries,sweets and cakes. The smoke from the fires hangs over everything and the crowds, not at all a tourist majority, are enormous.
We started on the rooftop terrace of the Cafe de France which faces over the square towards the mosque and watched the sunset which suffuses the town with an golden hue and then strolled through the food stalls.
The area surrounding the stalls is packed with entertainers, entirely ethnic musicians, with throbbing drums, wailing stringed violin-type instruments and the modern addition of banjos. The bands play for dancers who appeared to be men dressed as women and everybody gets very excited, especially the man who had a chicken on his head as he danced the hip shaking routine which was the norm.
Taking photos is fraught as money is demanded quite aggressively, so it's easier not to bother.....in fact money is solicited for anything at any time so a handful of coins is useful to avoid hassle..…..1dirrhum is about 7p and there are 100 cents to the dirrhum so coins are not worth a great deal
Sadly, the ladies did not wish to dine alfresco so we ate ( very indifferently ) at one of the cafes around the square...I suspect the hygiene was no better than on the stalls where at least you could see the food being grilled ( and I thought the displays looked wonderful). Again, all that is missing is a decent bottle of red to wash it down.
The following day we headed into town ....actually its a city with a pop. of 1m plus...and shunning a guide, got well and truly lost in the souk. So lost that we ended up pressed against a wall as a funeral passed by, the body wrapped in a blanket, feet sticking out, and held aloft on stretcher thing.
It took a good hour to extricate ourselves, leaving little time for a late lunch as the taxi was booked for 3pm. but we found a nice place near the mosque
We have met some lovely fellow travellers, including Clive and Karen who retired 4 years ago and are travelling full time in their 6 wheel Auto-Trail Chieftain. Had a great fund of tales to tell.
Near disaster befell when the rail holding the GF's excess jumpers collapsed in the shower, caught the handle and emptied 100 litres of water into the van as the drain plug blocked, when we were out one day. Luckily the pump didn't burn out after running dry for hours but we had a very sodden van and clothes. But everybody rallied round, strung lines, and despite rain overnight we dried out the following day.
Next.....through the Atlas and onto Agadir.