A post a day while I’m not working to catch up on these many weeks without regular updates.
Being a substitute, long-term though I may be, means I get to take off for two weeks when our friends come to visit and then another week off when my school goes on spring break. Unpaid leave—gotta love it.
Colin and I have been able to see a lot more of Morocco in 2013, but this trip we planned with Brian and Summer was meant to be our last hurrah of sorts. Morocco, with it’s many varied regions and deceptively large size, presents a challenge to travelers who might hope to see it all. Luckily, our friends were satisfied to pass on the tanneries of Fez and the towering Rif Mountains in favor of Morocco’s corner of Sahara and its most touristy city, Marrakech.
I’d heard so much about Marrakech, mostly warnings from friends about the hassling, but also glowing reviews from my students, who, I remind you, are 5, 6 and 7 years old. We approached with a mentality of it being an obligatory stop on our journey to the sand dunes.
Instead we found it pleasant, lively, and delicious. I got my first sunburn of the year as we wandered somewhat lost through the heart of the medina and then beyond, past a forgotten park and a high school that had unfortunately just let out. A little local flavor for our visitors.
Our riad was run by a German-Moroccan couple and was decked out like the best of the guest houses we’ve been in, with mint tea and nuts on arrival and a lovely seating area in Bryan and Summer’s room that we took advantage of for a night of Bananagrams.
After dark we headed back out for dinner in Jemaa El-Fnaa. From one direction, you enter via the souks, with slippers, purses, lanterns, soaps, djellebas, and other tourist fare crowding you in; from the other direction, you come from the street and cross the square and the musicians, henna artists, and monkey handlers that fill it. The main event are the food stalls, which every evening, carnival-style, pop up with fully functioning kitchens, dining areas, and dish-washing stations. There are more promoters than potential customers in the avenues between stalls, beckoning you into their particular square of white plastic tabletops, fluorescent lighting, and meat skewers. “It’s finger-licking good,” “Stall number 11, straight to Heaven,” “Save the drama for Obama,” etc.
Before too long, we learned to look for the few stalls in between catering to mostly Moroccans and took our spots on the bench for shallow bowls of lentils and steaming cups of mint tea. For simplicity’s sake, we went back the next night, and again when we overnighted in Marrakech after our desert trip. Dessert was a glass or two of fresh-squeezed orange juice and our selection from the wide pickings of figs, dates, apricots, and nuts. The food alone will help us remember Marrakech with fondness.