Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Marrakech is known as THE place to visit in Morocco. All the action centers around Jemaa el-Fna, a historical square in Morocco. In the evening, we found open-air restaurants, musicians, and "carnival" games. During the day, we watched snake charmers, acrobats, and henna women. We actually found the square to be quite overwhelming- rather than casually taking in the sights we had to keep saying "la" (no) to people wanting to ask for money for each glance we took. (Vickie got henna-ed before she could even say no, and then I had to negotiate majorly so the bill wasn't insane.) Before it became such a sight (until the 19th century), Jemaa el-Fna was a place for public executions. I think I'll take pushy henna ladies over that...

Henna Hands

Open-air restaurant in Jemaa el-Fna. Stall after stall of this, men using American catch-phrases (one man quoted Obama's acceptance speech!) to get us to come and eat.

Wandering around the old part of Marrakech, the medina around Jemaa el-Fna, takes you past many wonderful sights. We walked through the souks, which are regions of the medina that sell specific goods. (I want to return to see the metalwork, basket, and dyers' souks.) As you walk through the medina, shopkeepers invite you to look at their goods and offer "democratic price," like for "family." Tom, walking with three women, received many comments from men saying he was lucky; and was twice offered camels in exchange for one (or all) of us. 6,000 camels for three women.

Tom and two of his women in the medina

A generous portion of saffron, worth more than its weight of gold but found in most Moroccan dishes

A typical spice shop in the Rahba Kedima "Old Square"

Spices backlit by colorful lamps

Selling carpets in the Old Square (in the medina off from Jemaa el-Fna)

A wander through the medina includes places of playful light

at center: Darbukka drum, made of clay body and fishskin head. above: Berber "guitars" with goatskin and wooden bodies.

This shopkeeper taught me to play a Berber square drum (they are decorated with henna). Harder than it looks!

Tom grooves on a Berber guitar

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