Marrakech, Je T’aime

by Lena

Madersa Ben Youssef

I’ll be honest, this was not a love at first sight though… It was gradual…

Our first date was a grand disaster! ~

I got no flowers, gifts or compliments, instead I got yelled at, stepped on, lied to on several occasions and for a second there thought

I won’t make it to my 28th Birthday by trying to maneuver my way through endless craziness of horse carriages, bikes, cars and buses…

Not so Zen …

Of course being the independent, female, solo traveler, I refused to pay to any local guide and chose to discover AKA “go on my second date” with Marrakech on my own terms, at my own pace and on my own two feet.

Even if it meant that I won’t feel my legs by the end of the day, I’ll be run over by something or led into some “tourist trap” by some guy who tells you that the place you’re looking for is closed today, but he’ll be more than happy to show you something much more interesting in the meantime…

My Reply was ; ” Don’t hassle the hassler, darling.. have a great day! “

Covered from head to toes in dust, with no knowledge of French, (since Morocco is ex-French colony) or Arabic, but free, proud and stubborn, I stood in the middle of hassle and bustle of Marrakech, trying to figure out which way to go. Armed with a map, camera & a water bottle, off I went…

The Koutoubia Mosque

Got lost and ended up in Mellah ( Jewish quarter of Marrakech) … which is a home to this lovely chameleon.. don’t speak French.. just yet.. but fluent in Chameleon!

Then there was this guy, who kept following me around the city and watched me taking photos.

Thought to myself, only a day here, dressed modestly and already managed to get a stalker!  Then he came up and asked me if I could take his picture. I smiled and nodded. He stepped closer to the wall, put his hands in his pockets and gave me this stare into my lens…

what a character!

Then continued following me around. After a few hours of trying to loose this guy in the endless alleyways, I gave up and asked him to stop following me… You see, even when traveling solo, sometimes you find yourself in situations actually asking people to let you be just that… solo.

Exotic smells  &  Mint tea in one of the herbs shops of Medina.

Here, you can find anything! From natural remedies from cold & all health problems under the sun, to a natural jasmine perfume & a “Berber Lipstick” ~ It’s a small brown pot, which you touch with your wet finger, deep red color rubs off the pot and you apply the rubbed off substance on your lips … Ladies,  it actually works! “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful, Cover Girl , Berber Pot! ”  and gals, I got mine for free!

Colorful Spices of the Medina

Souks in the Medina – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Jemaa el Fna

Jemaa el Fna is full of surprises, different smells, snake charmers, drums, delicious food, monkeys on leashes and complete chaos – I love it here! And speaking of snake charmers… meet my new friend.. Cobra ..

oh please.. big deal… i can do that too ..

” The Four Arches of Marrakech ” can you spot the 4th one?

You can see those colorful strings everywhere if you pay attention… At first I didn’t understand what they were and thought people tie them up for good luck, but then I saw this while walking through the alleys …

Here’s the process of making a caftan.. right on the street, he hooks it to the wall and then hard work begins…

After a few hours of walking around craziness of this maze, I found myself being taken away by the serene side of Marrakech… into beautiful, peaceful and graceful arms of Jardin Majorelle …

Here, I felt at peace…

perfect place to relax, breath & be

Since 1980 the garden was owned by Yves Saint Laurent and after he died in 2008 his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Gardens.

Yves Saint Laurent’s collection of Love post cards that he used to send to his friends every year.

The card he send out the year I was born..

Feeling rested and renewed I continued exploring Marrakech…

Slowly beginning to feel the first butterflies towards the Yin/Yang of this place and it’s mysterious energy, which pulled me further and further away from my own pride into it’s passionate arms…

While walking through the streets my senses, to be more specific my nose, led me to one of the small and hidden local eateries…

I saw several small and big pots standing on fire… The smell was so heavenly, that I could not pass it without stopping and fully breathing it in …

This turned out to be the most popular Moroccan dish – Tagine.

Since I’ve never tried it before, I just had to get one of those little pots and open it… especially after walking for hours.

I looked around and saw no other woman, only men. And there were zero tourists… perfect !

I ordered a small chicken Tagine..

This was insanely DELICIOUS!

The guy who keeps this place asked me to return tomorrow and have one on him… I said Merci Beaucoup in my almost perfect french .. that’s one of the 3 phrases I know … & a very American maybe ..

Then made my way to Palais Badi ..

and beautiful Palais Bahia

where some guy played on a flute for me while I was sitting next to one of the beautiful mosaic windows..

At night I headed to my now favorite Jemaa El Fna for some dinner and music..

Jemaa El Fna at night

this is how I was greeted at one of the food stalls..

one of them even showed me a different use for Tagine’s top ..

After a mouthwatering dinner, I went to watch musicians… can’t live without the sound of drums..

it’s raw and animalistic… just the way I like it.

After about 15 minutes they asked the crowd to tip, so I tipped the musicians and continued watching them, having to stop myself from being taking away by their sounds into a dance.

But then, saw a little girl, who works with these musicians sometimes. She starting to dance inside the circle of onlookers.. when she saw me, she came up and asked me to come dance with her..

I gave the camera to some tourist lady who was sitting and watching musicians next to me and asked her to take our picture while we danced… well the picture didn’t turn out so well… but the memory that I got to dance with that incredible girl, who stole my heart on that dance floor I will cherish forever..

We danced for about 20 minutes and the crowd around us began growing .. fast!

I actually asked for my money back since this girl and I brought them almost the whole Jemaa El Fna square…

we all laughed..

It was time to go back to my hotel since I wanted to visit beautiful Ouzoud Waterfalls the next day, that live 3 hours away from Marrakech.

I made my way through now empty & still streets…

feeling so incredibly alive, happy and

in love…

PS – To the person who arrived at my blog after they googled the following - ” do the oscar winners have sex in the after party? “

Answer : It depends on how much alcohol they’ve had at that party..   : ))

PPS – I uploaded a video of my jump into the most dangerous pool in the world..

_____________________

 The woman behind the words …

” Things “

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