Do I recommend to spend some precious time in one single town? Yes, I would! Do not misunderstand me, I love mountains, the endless plains, even more water, shores and beaches. But towns I love too. And ancient towns are special. Somehow they are able to blend their heritage with modern tourism without loosing their identity. It always starts where to stay and what to pay, isn’t it? Well, stay within the Medina, the ancient part, the old native residential district of a any North African city. The Medina provides you with everything, little by little, at any time. Talking food, shopping, nightlife, cafes, hammans, coiffeurs, repair shops, street sellers and street hustlers, wise men and dumb men, story- and fortune tellers (your fortune?). But where to stay? Many places are good to start with, but the area called Riad Zitoune El Jdide, located South East from the (in)famous Djemaa el Fna, is recommendable. Riads and Dars(houses) are plentiful and top class. Excellent services provided and, if you are lucky and throw questions to the employers (the Hassans and Mohammeds and Abdullahs), you easily get insight information about the colourful story regarding Marrakech and Morocco. Open your eyes and wonder! And there is a lot to wonder. And there is always the name of one man sticking around, a ghost from the past, an ancient warlord and Pasha (turkish for big), big man than? No I do not mean Allah, certainly not. He is always around, not only in Marrakech. But the man I am referring to is Pasha Thamid el Glaoui, a vicious and brutal ruler of Marrakech until the 1950ies. Define fortune? Somebody rich? True, but this man was outstandingly rich and powerful. Within Marrakech the saying goes what Pasha Glaoui once saw belongs to 100% to him, and what he did not see, to 50%. Just imagine now, you cannot have your eyes everywhere but you always have a 50% share in everything, and that is not a little, by far not. His hunger for women was even bigger than his hunger for fortune. People do not refer to numbers anymore, they just mention that the Pasha saw somebody, pointed towards her and she was gone, never seen again in her village, house, where ever she belongs to. What he once saw belongs to 100% to the Pasha. Unimaginable! Everything at any time!
… and you may think, really? Is is possible? Coming from the Cold (Norge) and heading straight to the South (Marrakech) – ancient oasis of Morocco, pearl of the Maghreb, retreat and hide-out, never sleeping lounge for tourists and lovers and seekers and hiders or just a place where time is of no importance – never was. Just a little bit of everything!
A bit of language. The most difficult one, the most confusing one. My french is a bit rusty, so was the car of the taxi driver. And we started some small-talk. How is the weather and that kind of things. To kick-start things a bit more I expressed the extreme temperature differences between Norge and Marrakech.
Nous avons centaine (100) degrés Celsius au nord. Vraiment? Oui, il est assez froide comparé à ici. Tu veux dire cinq (5) degrés Celsius? Oui, je veux dire centaine (100) degrés Celsius. Vraiment? (and so we continued…until five fingers in the air explained the difference in reception of cold/warm)
You can image the man was more than shocked hearing up North a hundred (100) degress celsius is rather cold compared to thirty (30) down here. A big difference between centaine (100) and cinc (5). But often confusion paves the way to sharing information, at least the taxi driver started to explain in detail bits and pieces of Marrakech in french, where to go, why to go the that casino, or to this casino, and the casino over there. The man has a hobby, for sure! But does he has the money for it? Do not think so. Only a little bit…