Driving around in Marrakesh and men who don’t ask for directions – Morocco part 6

Our drive to Marrakesh took us through Atlas mountains. AMAZING! Wow. The road just wriggled like a snake between mountains. Precipice here, precipice there… I’m used to roads in Alps, Germany, Austria, Italy, France. I’ve been to Croatia and drove from coast to Zagreb (at some point the road seemed to be a front yard of house or restaurant) but road in Morocco really took my breath away. At one moment we found ourselves driving around the rock in U shape so narrow that we could barely pass a truck so how could two trucks pass each other? No idea but it’s almost like driving to Vesuvius  with a trailer passing coaches.

We got to Marrakesh without a city map. BIG mistake! We had a small map of the city center in the guide but it’s not enough, believe me.  We were expecting signs saying: to medina or something like that and there are signs, it’s just that we found ourselves in the middle of old medina with no hotels. With narrow one way streets or streets closed for cars, thousands of pedestrians mainly natives walking in all directions not paying much attention to anything besides their business it’s a labyrinth where you can easily get lost. We were driving in circles looking for hostels or a way out. As you can imagine moods where not the best as each one of us had a different idea which way to go. Finally from the back seat I decided to ask for help. Lucky me I even found a really nice guy speaking English! He was kind enough to suggest he will show us the way, but the man in my car were not very found of this idea and told him rudely to get lost. Typical, nevertheless it made me really angry, cos we were waisting our time. We managed to get out from old medina and drove to the outskirts again. Really wide streets, kind of residential ringroad and almost nobody on the road. We stopped to calm down and discuss what to do next.

We decided to drive around and find a hotel, which wasn’t hard. The difficult part was finding something within our budget. No luck there so we ended parking our car in walking distance to Souk del Bahja an go to an Internet Cafe and browse for hostels. We wanted to print out the map with nicest looking hostels and in result had to pay for around 60 pages of of which we needed only two.  We couldn’t find anyone of the hostels on the map so we checked to the cheapest hotel we found on our way. Really nice room and a really nice service and parking space for our car! We had an evening walk around Marrakesh, very quiet and very tempting with orange trees along every street. Can you actually eat them?

The most interesting part of our stay was next morning at souks. Souk or souq is a arabic/muslim term for street market or part of the market. Entering the souk feels like being taken to One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights). The amount and colors of products displayed is overwhelming. The temptation to buy is never ending. We got to the market early so still not all stalls were opened but also not many traders stopped us on the way.

Souk in MarrakeshFirst all kinds of houseware, tagines, lamps, jewelry boxes, plates, sculptures, carpets, clothes, bags, sharfs, shoes and many many more. Our eyes were glittering with excitement looking for little treasures. Then food; olives, spices, herbs, meat, fruit, vegetables we have never seen before… which made us hungry so we decided to eat some breakfast – tagine as you can imagine. In the middle of souks just next to a small mosque, away fromBreakfast at souk Djemaa el Fna (main square) we found a perfect spot with paper tableclothes.  We just sat there eating wonderful meal and drinking mint tea, thinking how wonderful trip it was and how lucky we were it was not a tourist season and traders didn’t nag us every second to buy something (as it happened in Vietnam). We were not tired by people, we were happy and didn’t feel like we were treated as a piggy bank by locals. In Djemaa el Fna we saw snake whisperer and water seller in a traditional costume, who nowadays charges for having his  picture taken.

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It’s almost end of our trip but I just wanted to tell you a story which happened when we were driving back on a motor way. We were driving some time then and the traffic was pretty big, especially with trucks. So we found ourself driving down hill with wide lanes but with no overtaking sign. Of course we did overtake as the trucks were driving really slowly and we had plenty of space. As you can imagine around the corner police was stopping cars like ours. In this case they stopped three cars, we were in the middle. The policeman came over and asked:

– Parlez vous francais?

– No, English

– Pas du tout?

– English?

– No francais?

– No

– Aller!

5 comments

  1. Great journey, great story, great pics. Thank you for posting it! I actually made nearly the same trips – through the Sahara and over the Atlas moutnains – and published travel reportages about them in the German magazine of WELTBILD (which is German for “View of the world”). Posted it also on wordpress (links http://reisereportagen.wordpress.com/2009/04/12/durch-die-wuste/ and http://reisereportagen.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/in-den-schluchten-des-atlas/ ), however, unfortunatley only in German, but you inspired me to share them and translate them into English one of these days.

    1. Hi Stefan, thank you for comment. I will have a look. I learned German for over ten years but never got to a stage where I could use it fluently. Now it has been years since I last spoke it, so do translate it into English. Good for you with getting them published!

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