A Trip to Jemaa el-Fna
As I walk by the impressive Koutoubia mosque, I begin to hear the entrancing rhythm of the snake charmers blaring out on their pipes. The beat of the drums draws me in closer, and I am now immersed in the atmosphere of the world-famous Jemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech.
I pulled up to one of the crowds circling a group of actors performing. I didn’t understand what was being said, but the Moroccans in the crowd certainly found them funny! A variety of different acts were on display in the square; traditional musicians, comedians, and acrobats to name a few! The performers finished their act and one of them humbly passed around a hat to collect a few dirhams from the crowd.
I then made my way to the snake charmers, who assured me that I had nothing to fear. He placed a dreadful-looking Cobra around my neck and stood by me as my friend took photos of us together. This is not a recommended stop for the squeamish!
So Much to See!
I continue to walk through the square and see many different vendors sitting on stools in the middle of the pavement selling their wares. From soaps and herbs to argan oil and hats, they all eagerly beckoned to me to come and take a look. In front of them were a bunch of juice stands, where I had a delicious, freshly squeezed orange pomegranate juice. It was a real refreshing treat as I stood under some shade from the hot Moroccan sun.
Down some alleys I found many more stores to peruse. I stopped at the colorful slipper shop to buy a pair of Moroccan “Babouche” slippers for my sister (babouche is also their word for a snail!) I managed to bargain with the seller a bit, and got him down to 100 DH for a pair of more formal looking slippers, which I thought was a steal at $13!
After getting lost in the countless number of alleys (although not nearly as many as the Fez medina!) I made my way back to the square and went to the Argana café, which has a lovely rooftop terrace. I enjoyed a “Nuss Nuss” coffee (half coffee, half steamed milk), while my friend enjoyed a refreshing Moroccan Mint Tea. It was the perfect spot to catch the sunset, with beautiful orange and red tones embracing the square. The food vendors have now set up shop, and after enjoying the view, I went down to grab a mouth-watering plate of tender slow-cooked lamb meat accompanied by a nice salad.
As I headed back to the Riad I was staying at, the beat of the Moroccan drums continued on in the distance, and I realized that the square would be full of life and excitement well on into the midnight hours. I took comfort in the fact that I would have the pleasure of doing it all over again the next day!