Friday, June 7, 2013

Day 1 in Marrakesh, Exploring the City

I started off my day earlier than I expected, my hostel mates were up at the crack of dawn making noise, I had no idea why.  I was wondering, who wakes up at 6 am to go out in Marrakesh.  When the noise did not stop, I decided to go downstairs for breakfast which they begin to serve at 6:30 am at this hostel.  My hostel mates showed up shortly after and I ended up having breakfast with them.

I was annoyed by the noise this morning, but I talked to them. I found out why they were up at 6 am, packing and making noise, they were going on a two day tour of the Sahara desert that left at 7 am. I was no longer annoyed after learning the reason for their noise so early in the morning.

They left, I had the room to myself and went back to sleep, I finally got up around noon.  I was tired, the late flight, lack of sleep in Barcelona, I was running a serious sleep deficit, I caught up a little this morning.  I finally left my hostel around 1 pm to start exploring Marrakesh.  I walked to the main plaza in Marrakesh to get lunch, after lunch I began walking towards the palace, past a Mosque.

Lynnae at Koutoubia Mosque 
I took some pictures and met a Slovakian woman who lives in London traveling alone, I asked her to take my picture, she asked me to do the same for her and we started talking. We decided to explore Marrakesh together, she had experienced harassment the previous day, going out alone in the city.  I had heard about women being harassed in Marrakesh, I did not have this problem, I think because I am a Black woman.  Moroccans do not assume I am a tourist, at least one told me I have a Moroccan face. Moroccans come in all shades and hair textures. Some look like Black people I know in the US.

After walking around the mosque, we went back towards the main square to go to the Souks.  I had not been to the Souks, we decided to explore them together, she was shopping for a Hookah pipe and tea set and was going to try haggling.  We stopped on our way to the Souk to take a picture with a monkey, they have monkeys and snakes in the main square, they have all sorts of things.

Lynnae and Monkey in Marrakesh Main Square 
The souks were a totally new experience for me, I have been to souks in other countries, nothing like in Marrakesh.  The shop owners did not pester me, they went straight for the Slovakian, I watched the show.  Questions were directed to her, eye contact made with her and a few crass comments were made towards her, it was nice not being the obvious tourist in this situation.  Slovakian woman said the harassment was worse when she was alone in the market area, but they still were aggressive today.  I do not know what my experience would have been had I walked in the Souk alone. I had no problems walking alone from my hostel to the main square, I did not get any blatant harassment.  A few people talked to me, that was all.

Inside Marrakesh Souk 
After the Souks we walked to the King's Palace, there was nothing to see, and pictures are forbidden.  I took a picture from across the street, the police spotted me, called us over and told me to delete it, which I did, again the Morocco King's Palace is nothing to see, at least not from the outside.  We walked past a cemetery, again no photographs and that was about it.  We split up and made plans to meet for dinner at 9 pm.

Marrakesh's square had a completely different atmosphere at night than during the day.  Huge crowds gathered to watch Charlie Chaplain in black and white on a big projection screen in the square, restaurants in the middle of the square were full, and of course Moroccans were still out selling their goods. 

Me in Marrakesh Square after Dark 
Dinner was good, after walking around we ended up at a place recommended by a hostel staffer. The portions were huge, I got the traditional Moroccan dish eaten on Fridays, chicken couscous.  The woman at the table next to me recommended the dish, she said especially since it is the traditional food on Friday's in Marrakesh. We got the menu, it came with a salad, the couscous dish, and a tiny pastry and tea for dessert.  

Dinner in Marrakesh main square 
It took us awhile to end up at the restaurant, again some Moroccans pestered us to go to their restaurant, I should say they pestered the Slovakian. We ended up following him to a high priced restaurant, finally returning to the one recommended by my hostel. We had a great experience at this restaurant, the waiter was a friendly older man who seemed full of joy, always smiling.  We left the restaurant a little after 11 pm, after exchanging contact information.  I plan to meet up with the Slovakian I met next time I am in London.  Nice thing about traveling, I am always meeting new, interesting people from around the world. 

Day 1 in Marrakesh Photo Album

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