Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Moroccan Tale

Hello everyone! I'm almost sad to say that we're back from our week in Marrakech. We had such a wonderful time! Marrakech is truly a magical place, though you have to watch your step so you won't get overrun by one of the many mopeds or donkey carts! But believe me, you'll adjust ;) It's just not for the faint of heart, I guess.
Oh, but the colours!
The smells!
The food!
The madness of the Jemaa El Fna!
Although a week seems long for a city trip, we found it to be just perfect when traveling with a 2 year old. We stayed in the medina in a traditional riad, a Moroccan house with an interior courtyard, where we could sit and have some mint tea (they like to call it 'Berber whiskey') while keeping an eye on Ravi, who slept upstairs. We were the only guests most of the week, so plenty of privacy!
Our room was small, but gorgeous and the bathroom I would gladly exchange for ours! Lovely turquoise, chalk-painted walls and small indigo tiles... sigh.

Our host, Samata, was a really great guy who made us feel at home immediately. He provided us with his 'magic map', which we were happy to use, since the riad was in a dead end 'street' and we had to walk through lots and lots of small dark alleys and passageways to get there! Lol, and we only got lost once! Pretty good, huh?

We asked a man who was taking his three kids to school (on his moped) for the way and since he didn't have time, he got his neighbour to help us. The neighbour didn't seem to know the riad (or couldn't read, I'm not sure... and illiteracy is still quite common), but no worries, he knew someone who could help us. So he took us down yet another dark alley to a dark, heavy Hobbit-like door and knocked. When the door openend, it revealed a beautiful, quite modern riad with a small pond in the middle of the courtyard. It was run by a lovely Swiss couple, who invited us in, looked up our riad on the internet and even took us all the way back to the right street. Where we took a wrong turn (just for a sec!) and ended up in some lovely ladies' laundry. Well, they had a good laugh (and she got all her kids out to see the silly tourists!) ;)

Of course I couldn't resist taking photos of all the gorgeousness in the souks! Especially the babouches (slippers) and the spices were irresistable! So many pretty colours! Holland seems so dull now!

The next two pics were taken in the wool dyers souk. Here you see how the indigo colour is made!
One of the workers showed me a rickety staircase that led up to a roof from where I could shoot more pictures. Up there I saw a line of leather bags drying in the sun too. I love how you can see the process of how everything is made, from shawls and yarn to bags, baskets and sculptures. Even the food is made right in front of you and all fresh!

But that means that you see all the messy things too. Severed goat heads and all. But then again, it makes you think, right? Our western society is all about hiding the things people don't want to see. Neatly tucking away the process of how our meat lands on our plate. It doesn't seem fair to me. It's not that I like looking at things like that (far from it), but I do like the simple honesty of it.

Something else: stray cats. Marrakech is filled with them. And I guess |I could make a book of all the pics I took. You know I love my cats, right?
I loved the attitude of this biker kitty!

And last, but definitely not least: the people. We met lots of lovely people and I have to say that Moroccans are great with kids! However, if your kid hates being picked up and having his cheek pinched or even kissed (preferably by bearded man, lol) or if you don't like it, then Morocco is not the place for you! Luckily Ravi thought all this attention was fun :) He especially loved going to the bakery, where the baker tickled him and gave him a bonbon every time! Hmm, we might have to unspoil him a little now... ;)
By the way, he thought all the men wearing djellabas were wizards, lol! I love how kids think :)
Since Morocco is a fairly male-orientated country it was harder for me to ask people to take portrait shots, especially with older, more traditional men. However, it always is just something that has to feel right (and if someone says no, you just don't). And then there are my favourite shots, like this vendor and his cookies. He seemed so happy and proud, so I decided to wait around a bit for the right time to click the shutter!

This last photo of a Berber woman pouring tea was taken in a little village in the Ourika Valley, about 30 km from Marrakech. A great place to escape the madness of the city and get some fresh mountain air! I did a little mountain trek to the waterfalls (there will be pics later, I haven't sorted them all out yet!), while Erwin and Ravi stayed at some sort of hippie café halfway to relax. Erwin said it was too exhausting for Ravi, but secretly I think he was happy to skip climbing rocks ;) We had a fantastic view of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. Just beautiful. There will be pics of that later too, but for now I'll leave you with these :)

I hope you enjoyed this little Moroccan tale! Some of these photographs will be available in my shop later this week, so keep an eye out for them. Have a fabulous week and don't hesitate to leave a message, I'd love to hear what you think!