Marrakech, Morocco

In Marrakech, I purchased a djellabah, (basically a traditional Moroccan Berber robe that looks like a costume from a Star Wars movie).  And I hardly took it off for many days, as I felt that it helped me blend in the crowds and Morocco in January was colder than I expected so the robe helped keep me warm.  Here I am in a 'magic shop,' surrounded by dry lizards, giant pythons skins, animal pelts, herbs, potions, tinctures, horns, etc. with a spiky fierce-looking desert lizard on my chest.

Walking through the ancient street and narrow alleys of the souks of Marrakech is a sensory overload.  It is easy to get lost in the alleys, which just keep winding around and around and before you know it, you're totally turned around.  Some areas seem to have an endless supply of the same tourist goods: leather slippers and jewelry.  But then you turn a corner and there's a row of beautiful lamp stores, beckoning to you like Ali Baba's magical cave and you have to stop to admire them, or smell the spices or taste the sweets.  And the vendors certainly aren't shy; most are eager to invite you into their shop for a cup of tea.  

The thoroughfares are jam-packed with pedestrians, yet bicyclists, hand-pulled or donkey-pulled carts, scooters and even cars try to push through the flood of humans packing the streets of Marrakech's medina (old city center).  

Just going for a stroll in Marrakech becomes a vibrant experience.  The call to prayer gets broadcasted out over the old city from the minarets of the mosques five times a day.  Even in such a tourist destination as Marrakech, alcohol-drinking establishments are rare, as alcohol cannot be served if it is within view of a mosque.  The easiest option to obtain alcohol is to go to a European supermarket like CarreFour.  Hash, on the other hand, does not seem to be as condemned by Moroccan Islam. Young men (and even a couple young boys) constantly offered me hash on the streets of the medina.

Wandering through the souks long enough will bring you to other types of markets where the locals do their shopping. Here the alleys open up into the spice market square.  There are other areas of the city that are just brass workers or wood workers, all selling their wares.

Acrobats perform in Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakech's huge open square in the heart of Morocco.  This square is utilized by locals and tourists both and one can find food stalls, musicians, fortune-tellers, dancers, snake-charmers, boxers, monkeys wearing sunglasses, juice stalls and vendors of all sorts. Everyday in the square is a spectacle of sights, sounds and smells.

Throughout the mazes of alleys, rounding a corner, you'll come upon an ornate entrance to a mosque.

Posing with the djellabah in our riad we found cheap on Airbnb.

More lamps

The ornate architecture all around Morocco is incredible.  We visited the inside of the Bahia Palace to admire the beautiful symmetry and designs of this old residence.

But you don't have to pay an entrance fee to see ornate architectural elements.  You can find crazy details in doorways on the streets or in the riads (old homes converted into hotels or guest houses).

A chameleon on Lily's head at the magic shop

And Marrakech even has an Earth Cafe though it's not related to my family's Earth Cafe in Norman, OK. But I did feel at home among the orange colors.

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