My tall friend can have a warped sense of humour. He was excited to experience the Souks, with me – his girlfriend, in particular. You’re thinking “NAAAAAW CUTE ALERT” aren’t you?? I’m sorry, you’ll have to search love quotes on Pinterest for your cute fix because the real reason he wanted to experience ‘the Souk life’ with me is because he was looking forward to witnessing how I coped with the craziness and any lewd comments thrown my way. He enjoys seeing me flustered. He falls into fits of laughter when I eat too-hot chili, when I fall over, or drop everything that I am carrying. His expectations were that I would become overwhelmed, ruffled and in need of his calm sensible temperament. As it turns out reality can be very different to expectation, and the Gods of Marrakesh were kind to me, as were the locals!
From the first day we set foot in the winding, narrow stall-lined streets, only just wide enough to accommodate a donkey and cart I knew it was going to be an incredible experience. The following calls were the soundtrack to our days in the Medina; “Heey big man!” “Hey long man!” “Hiii Basket ball!” and “Mr Jordan!” Young and old jumped out to question Hugh on his occupation, to take photos, to openly laugh and ask for photos. You can imagine the sense of satisfaction it brought me. In fact I was still busy laughing at him when we strolled past three teen-aged boys on their bikes, I would give them 15 years, Hugh would give them 11 and so we will settle on around 13years old. “Heey Shakkiirrraaa” they sung out, “SHA-KII-RA!” I decided to be gracious and accept the compliment. In my mind a compliment is always a compliment regardless of who is delivering it – also my hips definitely don’t lie. Hugh was able to have his turn laughing and sung a few verses of Shakira songs while we continued looking through shops. We were discussing where to go next when I felt a soft wind behind me and then, “Shaaakirrrra” whispered into my ear in a long lingering whoosh. One of the young Moroccan princes had biked past and was now in front of us. He turned back, winked and smiled. You’re probably already thinking it, so I will admit to you that yes, I did consider leaving Hugh for a life of Moroccan breakfasts and camel rides, but I just didn’t know if I could see myself keeping up this Shakira facade with a man over ten years my junior. So sadly I write this from Paris, and not from my throne, sipping mint tea in Marrakesh…
Below are snaps from around the Souks. I had trawled through the internet looking for information as to where to head as I was desperate to purchase a Moroccan Berber ‘wedding blanket’. Luckily I stumbled across an amazing post here and followed the advice. Another recommendation is the Majorelle Garden, a welcomed respite from the intensity of the Souks.
Here comes breakfast. Surprised? One of my favourite breakfast items is ‘the cake that’s socially acceptable to eat at breakfast’ or as it’s more commonly known – the pancake. And in Morocco they know how to pimp your pancake. It came in non traditional form, a square as opposed to a circle. The pancake was lightly floured and had a chewy, yet still soft texture. Drizzled with honey, this my friends, is what dreams are made of..
From Riad, to the Medina Streets……
We also visited the Bahia Palace for some interior design inspiration.
Next – the Jemaa el-Fnaa square from above. Sitting in a cafe eating lunch looking out across the rooftops of Marrakesh..
Back in the Souks Hugh and I met an endearing fellow who whipped up a beautiful leather jacket in just two days. He asked me to take this photo standing on his stool, and then requested I take one for him on his iPhone.
As mentioned, the locals were fascinated with my large lad, over the three days weaving through the Souks we began to recognise faces. This charming man in particular asked for a photo on day two. On day one as Hugh walked past he called “Big Man! “Strong man!” and then to me “Good Husband, good luck for you”. This sentiment of “good luck for your life” was repeated to us during our stay and I warmly welcomed the wishes each time.
We spent at least 45 minutes at a Rug and Carpet shop in the Souks as I painstakingly narrowed down the Berber rugs until I held my favourite in my sweaty little hands…
I made a contact at this carpet and rug shop – a very nice man, he is able to send photos and ship rugs to any location in the world. So if you are looking for a Moroccan rug please feel free to get in touch. I may even start a rug side business as I fell in love with everything that I saw!
And now, the ceramics. I was inspired due to the breakfasts that were laid out each morning and wanted to take a memento home. My mum loves ceramics, and sadly experienced the loss of many prized pots during the Christchurch earthquakes. So I am determined to return with her and empty suitcases in the near future..
Thanks to the post I mentioned earlier I was alerted to Mustapha Blaoui a rambling homewares store that spreads over three levels and across three floors. It was the most divine homewares shop that I have ever stepped foot in and is a must visit..
After days packed with sights smells and affectionate greetings we found cafes serving delicious food where we would take a break to apply bandaids (in my case) and eat in Hugh’s. Earth cafe and Clock cafe were our absolute favourites! Below a green juice and ‘pumpkin and goats cheese spring rolls’ from Earth Cafe.
After a visit to the tanneries we quickly made our way to The Majorelle Gardens.Walking through the entrance was akin to entering a resort. Jacques Majorelle created a garden over forty years which includes plant varieties from every continent. Hugh located an Australian plant I can’t remember the name, but it was there.. it looked healthy and cared for.
At night the Souks come alive with food stall restaurants, and the most impressive salespeople wielding menus and a fierce determination to get you sitting at one of their tables..
In summary….. Morocco should be added at haste to your travel plans. This is a place suited to all ages ages and life stages. The more research conducted, the better. The people are kind, friendly and helpful, the food is out of this world and the shopping is on a whole new level with bartering and the quality of goods on offer.
Quite simply, Morocco; you’ve got to go.