Saturday, April 11, 2009


Walking through the streets of Marrakech, you must always remain aware of your surroundings. Each moment of attention is shared in many directions, split from your consciousness by a hundred details demanding awareness. 

You listen for the sound of an approaching motorbike, legs flexed and ready to spring to the side when two silken ladies swoop by with a roar. You watch from your bit of street stone as a man pushes through with a laden cart, warning the crowd ahead of his approach with a repetitive chant. 

You notice alleyways drifting in every direction, sunlight smashing onto dull reds or brushing pinks and oranges. You wonder what is through that blue door or that crumbling archway. Maybe later you'll find out. Maybe tomorrow. 

You smell the good. You smell the bad. Mint tea vapors thread the air, combining with the smell of compressed heat and people in action. 

You take an extra big step to avoid a bird skull and then twist to follow the movements of a tiny white kitten. Five men invite you into their shops, "just to look", "good price." You are tempted by the paintings. By the spices. By the rugs. By the pottery. By the kitten.

Perhaps, if the time is right, you hear the call to prayer, humming with static, played from the minarets crowning the edges of the medina (the old city). You tug a bit at the scarf around your neck - lovely but hot - a nod of respect towards the modest dress in this Islamic city. 

Stacks of bread in low glass cases and oranges piled on juice stands appeal to you. Too bad behind the street food lies the threat of a stomach parasite. Your stomach rumbles, but it will have to wait for food cooked at high heat for long periods, food obtainable at any cafe in the main square of Jema el Fnaa.

You arrive at the square, squirming out from the final alley in the maze of souks, out of chaos into chaos. Darting away from a snake charmer, you feel a monkey reach out and brush your shoulder. You speed up, hiding in the crowd, half-blinded by sun on white stone. At last you see it, Cafe Argana, its rooftop terrace beckoning, its chicken couscous and ice cream sundae almost as welcome as its atmosphere of relative peace. 

Walking in Marrakech is an overwhelming delight. You'll be ready for that afternoon nap when you leave Argana...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved this! appreciate you!