Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Marrakesh- Morocco. III. Travel destinations.

Minarets and Muezzins
Summer 1967 40 °C

I was very happy to see my friend Hugo again. He was a tall, lean and a jolly person.
With a happy smile on his face and an easy laugh. He told me that he and his family were planning to emigrate to Canada soon and in fact, when I went to Canada in 1970, I met him and his son again in Toronto.

I explained to him about our mission and he told me that to buy camels, we must travel to Marakesh, where his contact had arranged a meeting with a man who would make the deal with us. This was an unexpected twist so when we went to our hotel, I sent an urgent telegram to the businessman in Canary Islands. And next day we travelled by car to Marakesh, the most beautiful city in Morocco.

Marakesh has always been the favourite city of internatioanlly famous persons, its seduction lies in its Medinas and Markets, the most famous luxury hotel La Mamounia with its 1920s Art Deco facade, through its doors Kings and Colonial Masters have passed, famous actors stay there. La Mesquita (The Masque) at Koutoubia Palace, with its twin towers of Giralda in Seville (Spain). The Plaza of Djemaa El Fna, its Souks and Kasbahs. It is known that the city started as a Military Encampment around year 1070 by Abu Bekr and over hundred years, it was transformed from a primitive Oasis to the modern walled city of Marakesh. The famous entrances to the city are Bab Doukkala, Bab El Khemis and Bab El Jadid, among others.

A visitor like me, who is always fascinated by Morocco and its Arab-African heritage, its mystic Berbers and their culture, will love Marakesh. You can easily get lost in its narrow streets and alleys, its Medinas and Markets. Streets are dirty with a constant din of people working, children playing in the puddles of water standing in the middle of the streets, its bars where men gather on its verandahs to drink mint tea and smoke Hooka, gazing at the smoke curling and drifting lazily towards the sky above. Once you have aclimatized yourself to the hustle bustle, the chaotic traffic, you will be enchanted by the msystic charm of Marakesh, its white, red and yellow buildings, lingering in the Souks, savouring the ambience of hectic activity of daily life which unfurls itself before your eyes.

In the mornings, the best place and a must for any visitor, is the Plaza Djemaa El Fna, which sits like a Berber emcampment, although with shops and stalls, hot sun steaming the ambience, and drink fresh orange juice, eat fresh fruit and if you feel like it, drink hot sweet mint tea or a cold beer. The place is packed with hawkers selling wicker baskets, sweets, jewelry, healers, sellers of birds in cages, street dentists plying their trade, secretaries writing letters for the illeterate.

In the evenings, the Plaza transforms itself into a scene from Arabian Nights, reminding you of a Cecil b.Demille epic movie scene. Snake charmers, story tellers, dancers, acrobats, all attracting crowds. The setting sun brings out the vivid colours of the city, red and ochre, the plaza illuminated by 1000 and One lights, the smell of food being cooked on open charcoal grills set on the stalls, making you hungry. As if the city wants to reveal its charms pace by pace, spectacle by spectacle as you watch the chaotic and hectic activity all around you. There is no doubt Marakesh is a popular tourist destination.

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