Thursday, March 1, 2012

Marrakech, Morocco

Where to even begin... last week, I spent 6 days in Northern Africa, more specifically, in Morocco, wandering through the streets of Marrakech and trekking through the Saharan Desert. Now, when I think of Morocco, a rush of sensations swells over me- the smells, the sounds, the tastes; all so vibrant and intoxicating that I can't seem to put my thoughts together. But maybe, that's exactly what Morocco embodies: chaos. Especially evident in the lack of streets in the Djemma el Fna or "the old city" where horses, donkeys, motorcycles, bicycles, and people all fight their way through the crowds to their final destination. But it's exactly this "chaos" that I fell head over heels in love with because everyday presented itself with something new and unfamiliar; something different from my status quo, and what's life without a little spice?

Cute boy whose whole face lit up when we offered him something so simple like our freshly squeezed orange juice (which I will post about VERY soon)

Dried fruit and nuts stands are numerous in the square as well as throughout the tiny alleyways in the Djemma el Fna

The Djemma el Fna at sunset

My only souvenir of the hammam baths in Marrakech. I definitely felt "Clent" and Beautiful afterwards.
After our desert excursion, my friends and I emanated an alluring scent that is best described as camel excrement. Realizing that this lovely smell wafting from our bodies was too much sexiness for the Moroccans to handle, we decided to do a little "cultural activity" and basically strip down and don what I assume is supposed to maintain some sliver of our dignity via a teeny tiny underwear-y type thing and participate in a "hammam bath". Basically a communal steam bath where a woman lathers, scrubs, and bathes you until you're squeaky clean. Did I mention that it's "communal"? Yes, bonding in its truest form happens in these baths my friends.... but you do feel amazing afterwards, especially after smelling like sh*t and having sand in places where it should never be.

Beautiful hand beaded rugs

Apparently in Morocco syringes are used to spray perfume...

Perfumery by our hostel where he mixes different scents to create one of your choice


The famous spice cones! 

Moroccan toothpicks

Ladies crushing argan nuts for their oil which has many valuable properties. The most popular way it is used is as a beauty product for the face and body.


The REAL Marrakech
After my trip to Sintra in Portugal, my new mantra for traveling is "getting lost" and in Marrakech, we did exactly just that. We ended up in a part of the city that had no tourists in sight and we got to see the ins and outs of daily life of the Moroccan people. There were meat stores with huge hanging legs of meat and live chickens in cages, the alleyways were filled with kids playing soccer with a makeshift ball made from a clump of plastic bags, and the buildings were unkept and rundown for the most part (unlike the ones in the very touristic main square). It was nice to escape the craziness of the Djemma el Fna and jump right into another kind of chaos in this authentic part of Marrakech

A man making textiles in a tiny little workshop

Sneaked a picture of a man sitting down. You may think that my actions border on creepiness, but I prefer calling it "art in action".

The coolest modes of transportation in Marrakech

Fearless old man cruising on his bike in a street full of cars whizzing by. Talk about bad ass

One of the numerous pregnant kitties roaming the streets of Marrakech.

Palais Bahia 
A palace built to be the greatest of its time. 

Breath-taking architectural design

A large art piece known as "the loom" in front of the mosque in the Medina

The terrace of our hostel: Hostel Riad Marrakech Rose. Excellent budget hostel in Marrakech. The owner is such an amazing host and it's literally a one minute walk from the main square. Free breakfast, shisha, and Moroccan mint tea! WIN.