The seed that we planted in this man’s mind may change everything.
Inception, one of my favourite movies of all time, had some truly powerful quotes. Men’s mind is a fascinating place. An idea or a perception, once born, even when left untouched, refuses to go away.
When I first heard about the country of Morocco some years back, the seed was planted.
This is my first attempt to recount my steps into this intriguing country last December. A solo backpacking trip of 2 weeks in an entirely foreign part of the world, I was left gasping in the first 2 days, ready to head back to London.
I had, of course, spent my first days in Marrakech.
Marrakech, one of the 4 imperial cities (Fes, Meknes and Rabat being the others) of ancient Morocco, is akin to the rebellious child of a family. Travellers may only need to witness Djemaa el fna to form a similar conclusion. This famous square was inscribed by Unesco as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”- a rather elaborated and awkward description. What it means in plain English is that this is a messy, sweaty, smoky, noisy, and chaotic din of a crowd.
Orange juice vendors, fortune tellers, street performers and snake charmers unite at the Djemaa el fna each day by some inexplicable bond. Many will willingly strike up a conversation with broken English (or in my case, any Asian phrases they can conjure), share a smile, or pose for a photo- all for a few tourist money of course!
Away from the square, the Medina (old town) of Marrakech refuses to let up. Be it carpets, leather goods, vibrantly coloured clogs, or the inviting scent of the Tagines, there always seem to be something around that corner. It is as if the world’s best sales people congregate in this small ancient maze of the town, where street names are the equivalent of a broken compass needle, charming travellers off their intended paths.
Such is in fact the best way to explore the Medina. I did away with maps, relying on gut feel and a scent for adventure to guide me through the impossible maze. Time was never in a hurry though, for I enjoyed my time doing nothing, observing how people here live their lives.
Each night I went back to my Riad, nursing the wounds caused by the barrage of sound, scent and sight. But each following day I went back, searching for more.