Friday, February 09, 2007

Marrekech

I am in Marrekech, so far, happy to be here. There is a magnetism about its energy and being. The medina is sprawling with four-lane roads, so you get less of a sense of a walled-in city as compared to other Moroccan medinas that commonly have no cars within the walled, cobblestone streets.

Today the sky is bright and the main square is heavily peopled with more vendors and touts (people who are self-employed to annoy travelers) than tourists at this time of year. It is crazy here, like nothing else with the snake charmers, monkey handlers, musicians and many touts and beggars and horse- and donkey-drawn loads (carriages would much of the time be an overstatement).

The Koutoubia Minaret stands decorously in the distance. My Friday morning excursion was calmer than usual (Friday morning in Muslim countries is like Sunday morning in Christian countries), so I haven't yet experienced the full brunt of it.

One wonderful thing is the fresh fruit juice carts whose vendors juice oranges on site and hand you a glass for 3 dirhams or roughly 30 cents, yum! Sadly, I must report that the food has been a disappointing heap of tasteless stewed veggies or stewed veggies and meat with or without cous cous, not at all the fragrant, multi-sensation palate-pleasing tagine I've eaten in Paris, New York and, especially, Flensburg!

I went into a kitchen of a restaurant before choosing to eat there, and though it was clean and I didn't smell a bad smell, it was disconcerting that there was no smell! I wonder if they make it non-flavorful for the tourists? Or, perhaps it is just not possible to cook it in 15 minutes for a restaurant setting and for it to have those deep, rich flavors. If that is the case, I would think they could cook it ahead of time, especially the places that claim to specialize in tagine or cous cous (which is a bit odd, like if a restaurant in India were to claim to specialize in curry, but they don't make that claim because everyone serves curry!)

Inside the medina, one of the side streets leading to the Djemaa El Fna:


The Djemaa El Fna, the main open square, the pulsating heart of the medina:


Side view of the Djemaa El Fna:


Koutoubia Minaret:


Falling light inside the souqs (markets):


Yum, olives!


An orange tree grows in the hotel courtyard:

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