Marrakesh is a crazy city . . . even for Morocco.
But I loved it.
Maybe it was the vibrance. Maybe it was the chaos. Maybe it was the dancing. Maybe it was the addictive fresh orange juice, I am not quite sure what drew me in so quickly. But, since this was our last excursion in Morocco, I think this was the best way to end.
Marrakesh presents the traveler with all the best parts of Morocco:
Cafes, shopping, a huge medina, panaromic views, gardens, mosques, mountains, excursions to the desert, riyadhs, traditional food, lanterns, belly-dancing, people, people, people everywhere.
All of those elements collide together in Marrakech's famous square, Jamaa Lefna.
As soon as you enter, men approach you flipping tiny monkeys over their arms, exclaiming Marhaban to Marrakesh! Turn to your head, and there is a snake charmer swaying with one draped over his shoulders and the other at his feet.
The old medina sprawling outwards from the square indulges the traveler in the fantasy of the Mystic East . . .
In the winding alleyways, hazy rays of light shine through the shafts of the thatched roof and cast a shimmer on the rustic jewelry shops, or catch the sparkle in the cobblestone. Motorcycles whiz by without warning and carts push through, giving you just enough din and chaos to find it all so exotic and exhilarating. It has all of the wonder, without the congestion and clamor of other medinas.
At night, you can eat couscous or tagine ( with a fork) under the soft glow of Marrakesh made lanterns, and then sip tea cross legged on a soft rug as belly-dancers swirl and shake around you.
Whether you find this an authentic experience or not is up to you, but there is no denying that it’s dazzling all the same—for Moroccans and tourists alike. However, I have the feeling that as one of Morocco’s main attractions, Marrakesh has an obligation to be this way.
For, if Marrakech is anything, it’s a tourist city—some may go as far to say a tourist trap.
With foreigners coming in from all over the world, prices are especially high, and vendors are extremely aggressive. Everyone is trying to make money off a tourist’s naivete, and it is easy to feel like you’re constantly being tricked.
But I . . . I am not a tourist. I have been in Morocco for just shy of four months, and I know how to get a taxi, how to give directions. I know that 4 pashmina scarves do not cost 800 dirhams. I know to listen to the hum of an oncoming motorcycle and how far to jump aside. Ana mashi turista (I am not a tourist).
And because of that beautiful cultural confidence, it was easier to navigate the sensory overload that is Marrakech, and just feel really, really excited.
I felt like frolicking around Jamaa Lefna (a huge square that would have frozen me in fright three months ago) impervious to the catcalls, the crowds, the little children grabbing at my pockets for money, the vendors waving me to their stands, the creepy men slinking out of the shadows, whispering “Do you like party?”
Instead, I could focus on all the refreshing luxuries of visiting a tourist haven. I indulged in copious amounts of freshly-squeezed orange juice. I ate restaurant couscous. I bought pashmina scarves. I gaped at dancers, shimmying their hips while balancing tea on their heads. I danced all night.
P.S. My only regret is that I didn’t take as many pictures as I wanted to—I was so distracted and wary of sneaky pickpockets.
(But perhaps that’s not the worst thing, it just means everyone should visit Marrakesh for themselves!)
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<p>I am Junior studying in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. As a feminist by thought and a hipster at heart, I seek every opportunity to break the barriers, disprove the labels, and blur the lines.</p>