28.09.2015 - 03.10.2015
From Aït Bennhaddou we headed towards Marrakech, where unfortunately, Moh's time with the group came to an end and he had to set off to Casablanca to start another tour. We had a delicious dinner in a fancy restaurant and gave Moh a card and plenty of hugs.
The following day we set off on a half-day walking tour with a local guide through Marrakech. All buildings in Marrakech are a shade of red and are no higher than six stories, in accordance with local law. We visited Koutoubia Mosque, the Medina, a royal tomb, the souk (market) and Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square of Marrakech. The square and souk are full of snake charmers, henna women, fresh juice stalls, shops and tourists. The people of Marrakech (and really of most of the big cities in Morocco that we've visited) are not like those of the rural areas (surprise surprise). If you don't want to be bothered, don't make eye contact, don't show visible interest in their wares and do not ask any questions about what they're selling unless you're actually interested in buying something. Having said that, even that doesn't always work. I've had ladies curse and spit at me because I didn't want henna and food vendors calling us aliens (amongst other things) because we didn't want to eat at their stalls. So long as you're not easily offended and can laugh it off, you'll be fine. Many men here will whistle and cat call at anything with two legs. Don't be surprised when they say hello in five different languages trying to sus out where you're from, or mutter "Cs-cs" (cous-cous, meaning your butt) at you as you walk past. But not everyone's like this, and as I said, it's worse in the cities.
At night, the square transforms, with the entire mid-section full of food stalls. Crowds gather around men playing drums, tourists have their photos taken with monkeys (if you visit, don't do this. It's just supporting a cruel business), horses pull carriages full of tourists and small children run amuck with soccer balls. We ate street food for dinner, including lamb skewers, sausages, snails, vegetable soup and Pastilla au Paulet (a chicken pastry).
Whilst Marrakech isn't my favourite place (none of the cities were), it is certainly worth seeing for its beautiful gardens, architecture and busy night life.
On the Wednesday we hopped onto a bus for three hours towards Essaouira. Unfortunately for me, my stomach isn't quite as hardy as I'd like it to be and whilst I dream of being one of those travellers that can drink water from a dirty puddle and suffer no side effects, this will most likely never be the case. The street food from the night before was catching up to me and I wasn't feeling quite as charmed by the travel life as I had the day before. Luckily I wasn't sick on the bus. Unluckily, I was sick in the middle of the street in front of twenty-odd locals. Stay classy, Laurena...
Essaouira is a beautiful town full of blue doors, cats and ginormous seagulls. Pictures do not do the seagulls justice. They are literally up to my knees. The town is full of young people who look like they're either trying to be Bruno Mars or Bob Marley and old fisherman with boots and beanies. Most of the doors in this town are blue, as the boats are blue and the leftover paint had to be used for something. We stayed in Essaouira for two nights and everyone enjoyed eating freshly caught fish with bread and Moroccan salad (I stuck to crackers and bananas) and walking around the medina shopping for treasures.
We left Essaouira on the Friday and stayed in Marrakech for one more night, whereupon our tour ended and we made our way to Chefchaouen on the overnight train.