Back to the madness of Morocco with the zooming and honking cars, screaming children, and donkeys trotting down the street. Quite a difference compared to the last week I spent in Barcelona with artists painting on the street and families lounging on the beach. Barcelona was very nice but it was easy, too easy. Does that make sense? I could go out for food, for drinks, sit by the ocean and dream the day away, whereas Morocco takes a lot of work. After nearly getting run over by motor bikes and beating off harassing street vendors, you appreciate your bed and privacy that much more.
I left Barcelona the day after Christmas and stayed in northern Morocco for one night. I met a Canadian boy on the train who is working in Morocco and we went to eat at his favorite restaurant. The owners love him and were ecstatic that he brought an American girl to their shop. They sat with us for hours drinking tea and smoking cigarettes, speaking in English, French and Arabic about the military, the villages of Morocco, and international politics. All was going well until they found out I had yet to eat cous-cous in Morocco. Everyone got up shouting as if the world was going to end. It was worse than the apocolypse!
(Which, by the way, I didn`t know Muslims beleived in. According to them, the Jews are going to rise up and try to kill the Muslims but Jesus will return and save them. Just a tidbit for ya.)
So anyway, after all the cous-cous drama they told me that I must come back the next day and eat homemade cous-cous. This would mean missing my morning train but I agreed. Who gets the opportunity to do this? They told us to arrive at 12:30 so we could eat leisurely and leave by 3. Well we arrived the next day right on time, the food was ready only 20 minutes later, but we sat and drank tea for two hours before eating. Time is relevant here. Once we started, we all sat down to eat with our hands. There was cous-cous, vegetables and a chicken in the middle of the communal tray. Have you ever eaten cous-cous? It`s damn near impossible to eat with your hands. So they taught me that you need to grab a clump and toss it around like you would if you were playing with coins in your palm. The food should quickly turn into a perfect ball which you pop into your mouth. Oh boy, the American girl made everyone laugh until they were crying when I tossed and tossed but just produced a messy clump of cous-cous and mashed vegetables. I tried to eat it but it fell all over the table, which made them laugh even more. Want to make friends? Embarrass yourself.
And now here I am in Marrakech after a long day of walking around the market, navigating through the medina which is the walled center of the city. Here`s a link to a map of the medina: http://tinyurl.com/24bra4t
You can see why I`m confused.
I can`t even begin to explain the sensory explosion here. It truly feels like you are in a movie with spinning cinemetography and special effects. Imagine listening to clarinets enticing snakes to dance and villagers banging on drums and playing finger cymbals, while smelling curry, sage, cinnamon, fried fish, and fresh squeezed orange juice. At the same time donkey carts go flying by squeezing you between horses and a dozen motor bikes zipping past. Vendors are calling you to buy their product at "a good price! a good price!" Women walk by wearing head scarves or burkas and men follow the loud speakers call to prayer. All the while you are caught in a whirlwind of sounds, people, and smells, lost in the medina, unable to find your way out. Scary? A little. Exciting? Unlike anything you`ve ever experienced.
I will stay in Marrakech exploring the endless streets of the medina until the 1st and then I will bring in the new year with a camel ride in the desert. Happy new year everyone!