Living vs Visiting

by Lena

Marrakech Sunset

Marrakech Sunset

Since this was my second time in Marrakech this year, I was basically going back with the knowledge of a local.

But because I don’t speak French or Arabic well enough, it resulted in a fight with a cab driver, who dared to demand

50 euros…

That didn’t turn out so well for him.

An amateur hassler trying to hassle a pro.. ha! Good luck to him!

Was able to negotiate a ride to my Riad with a different driver for 8 bucks.

When I arrived at my Riad ( 5 minutes walking distance to the main square in Marrakech ) I could not believe my eyes!

Riad Dar Jirane is breathtakingly gorgeous and serene.

Still can not believe that I got to live in my own Le Petit Palais.

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There are only 4 rooms in this beautiful palace-like private home. Number 1 is the most luxurious suite.

Dar Jirane has private garden and rooftop terrace where you can relax and sunbathe.

This Riad is full of photographs of famous French actors and even relatives of French Presidents who stayed here.

My room was # 2

I truly did live and travel through Morocco like a local.

My solo, 1 month journey through Morocco – Marrakech, Merzouga, Erg Chebbi dunes, Fes, Chefchaouen, Tangier..

My solo journey through Morocco

I tried to spend all my time with locals and experienced the true Moroccan rhythm…

Where the days are lazy and nights are filled with delicious food, colorful shows and passionate beats.

While tourists who came to Marrakech for a few days, run around in the unbearable heat, from one tripadvisor item to the next, I slowly made my way to my favorite small local cafe.

Saying hello to everyone who works there and then ordering ” the usual “. I sat outside in a shade, watching life go by.

In order to survive Moroccan heat you need water !

However if you live here you know, that 3 liters ( 2 bottles ) will cost you LESS than $1..

not  $ 2 or $ 3 for 1.5 liters ( 1 bottle ) like they sell to visitors.

After breakfast / brunch, I would meet with my now friends whom I met back in March and we would all sit outside their tour office,

chatting, telling jokes and stories.

Tourists stormed in, crazy eyed, looking for another tour they want to jam into their already overflowing itinerary. And I drunk mint tea, observing the whole “play” from a front row…

The most easily duped ones are:

1st place is awarded to Asians, 2nd – Americans and 3rd – Europeans.

It was fascinating to watch “behind the curtain” life of the theater that is Marrakech.

I could spend hours and hours getting lost in small alleys and souks of one of the most fascinating city’s in the world …

Then return to my private palace, sit outside in my garden, write about my adventure in Uganda & then enjoy the city from the rooftop.

Listening to the song-like prayer from the nearby mosque and trying to learn French by speaking with Fatima, wonderful lady who lives and works in Riad.

As the night slowly takes over Marrakech, local residents dress up and go out for dinner.

“Blue Hour” in Jemma El Fna square.


” Moroccan Night “

A cat-like shadow emerges from darkness.

Slowly making her way to the feast…

Her gracefully independent solo walk is a seductive dance, of an untamed beast.

Wrapped in mystery and broken promises,

She’s leaving behind intoxicating cloud of exotic scents…

Vanille, sandalwood, spices, tobacco, lace and incense.

She hears men trying to get her attention…


But doesn’t look in their direction.

She’s being led by the invisible string of the night…

The only thing she sees,

Is a lustful, decadent and chaotic light…

© Elena Levon 12/12/12




I went to Jemma El Fna almost every night and sat with local men and women, at my now favorite crowded table.

When I sat down, 3 cooks knew right away what I wanted and the only words I had to say were Bonjour and Merci.

My table was situated right next to tables where tourists eat.. it’s almost the same .. the only difference is the price ..

For the price of one dollar I left the table extremely full …

* A bowl of Harira Soup – it is a tomato based spiced chickpea soup with lentils and pasta flavored with coriander, parsley, lemon, cinnamon, saffron, and ginger.

* 2 small ( I promise, they were small ) portions of sesame and honey SHEBBAKIA – it is simply, Heaven of pastries !!

Even though Mr. Bond noticed the difference in my silhouette, when he saw me a month later, I don’t regret a thing! … or should I say an inch! : )

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After dinner I would make my way to a place where I was sang ” Happy Birthday “ in March of 2012…


Elena Levon Photography Morocco - 29

I became good friends with the owner, staff and a few of regulars.

Had some fun times here.

Kosy bar Marrakech - 7

Kosy bar Marrakech - 4

I got so heavy from Moroccan pasty, that even 4 guys couldn't hold me...

I got so heavy from Moroccan pastry, that even 4 guys couldn’t hold me…

It is a very intimate place. Service is top notch. And food… mmmm!

You have to try their Chocolate fondue!

I even got a beautiful bracelet from one of the guys who work there.


The main difference of living in a place vs visiting it for a few days

is the fact that you will experience not just the beauty of the Rose…

but it’s thorns as well…

I was robbed…

yep.. ( first time while on the road and in one of my favorite countries )

Unintentional decision of taking a longer road home at night, by mistake, cost me an iphone, a few bruises, seeing the inside of a Marrakech police station and a hell of a story …

( which I will leave for my future book… )

Fatima from my Riad was very nice and took care of me for the next few days.

I felt crushed.

But I refused to exchange the faces of all those people who brought me so much joy, for a bunch of desperate hoodlums.

iphone is only a thing, bruises will heal and hearts of all my friends, who became my Moroccan family will continue to love me.

Their love outweighs all the thorns…


But to truly heal inside and out, I needed one more thing …


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PS – Happy 12 / 12 / 12  to all of my co-pirates…Thank you for sailing with me!


 The woman behind the words …

” Memories “

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