Our final Moroccan destination was, of course, Marrakech, the Ochre City. In contrast with the previous cities we visited, Marrakech was in a very arid, desert area of Morocco.
At 3:00am in the morning prior to our departure from El Jadida to Marrakech Erik jumped out of bed in a sprint to the bathroom, from zero to full throttle sickness. And with the grumbling in my tummy… I knew I wasn’t too far behind. We tried to hang out in El Jadida as long as we could so Erik could get some rest and recover, but reality set in that we had to get to Marrakech, the car was to be returned by 4 pm. Thinking about it now, I have no idea why we made such a big deal out of that, but if you know what I’m like with my library books you’ll know… I can’t handle a late deadline. Anywho, the trip was the longest drive Erik has ever had to do (or at least it seemed that way) and we made numerous stops along the way. We have no idea where we picked this bug up; food related, virus…who knows. We ate what we wanted to eat, we hiked remote mountainsides, and I befriended many feral cats, so we have a number of suspects. It wasn’t pretty, but we survived and we wouldn’t do anything differently.
Erik was in the clear after about 48 hours of pure madness. For some strange reason my sickness didn’t fully kick in until about 2 days after Erik’s. Let’s just say our flight home was an adventure. Yeah, I know… perfect timing.
Here is Erik taking one of his quick breaks from driving. The total trip was about 4 hours on a narrow highway that was undergoing major construction. There were huge bumps and a lot of turns, which were not pleasant considering our condition. Neither side of the road had much of a shoulder, which made for a number of close calls with huge oncoming trucks half in our lane. Yikes. But the real kicker was doing it completely and totally sick, sick, sick. Can you tell Erik’s not too impressed with me documenting this moment…
Our plan was to return the car at the Marrakech airport and spend our last few days in the country on foot. What looked like a good plan on paper turned into a bit of a struggle as there were again no street signs and traffic was a mess. Erik decided to point the car in the correct direction (based on the location of the sun) and we kept driving towards where we thought the airport was located (Southwest side of the city). Eventually, using our Amazing Race instincts and my eagle eyes, we spotted a sign to the airport…we were home free. Once at the airport, we hailed a cab to our Riad, which was located directly in the center of the Medina. Once again, our Riad was beautiful, with a central courtyard, good sized rooms, and neat decorations.
Because we weren’t feeling 100% we took a lot of breaks between our ventures out into the souq. We would walk around for an hour or so and return back to the Riad for a nap, wake up and go again. We were fortunate that our Riad was right, smack in the middle of the souq so we could dash out and dash in fairly easily.
One thing we noticed about Marrakech is the number of motorbikes in the Medina. We had to stay on our toes to avoid the crazy drivers and also tried to keep moving to avoid the overwhelming exhaust fumes! Marrakech had a number of cool Souqs selling a variety of products from spices to leather to metal goods. Once again, olives were all over the place.
Here is Erik walking around in the Medina, towering over almost everyone! Beautiful rugs and fabrics. There were TONS of these places all over the Medina, each with unique, incredible hand crafted works. Heart melting picture. This place specialized in brass goods. They had a huge handmade bathtub with a beautiful copper finish.
When going to Marrakech one must make a trip to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the big square in the Medina. The square has everything you can imagine: henna artists, snake charmers, “dentists”, dancers, food vendors, shops…you name it. Also, there are a ton of people that go, so it is usually very crowded. Here are some guys charming all sorts of snakes. They even put them around their necks and on people’s heads for a few bucks…no thanks! Here’s the “dentist”. Not sure where he got all his teeth and gums, but he was trying to sell them. In Marrakech you can pick up a tangia, fill it with all sorts of foods and spices from the market, bring it to a wood burning oven, have someone bake it in the ashes all day, and then pick it up in the evening for dinner. If you don’t have time to make one yourself, you can even buy one from a vendor that has done all the work for you. Looks sketchy but probably tastes wonderful.
This guy is cooking up some snails. There were a few places like this, each with a huge pot full of them. You just pull up a chair and slam back some snails.
We chose to eat our lunch at this counter, which served bread with meat. We’re still not sure what exactly the meat dish was…could have been brains…could have been sheep head…no idea. It definitely did not have the taste or texture of beef, chicken, or lamb. Also, we were the only westerners at the food stall, the rest were locals…usually a sign of good food! Beautiful Hamsa door knocker. Fatima hands were all over the place in Morocco!