A visit to the Kingdom of Morocco
Morocco, a Mediterranean country in northern Africa has always been on my wish-list. The country known for its spices, vibrant colors, souks selling ceramics, herbs, jewelry and pretty much everything else that you can think of has had a long history of influence from both Arabian and European cultures. My flight to Marrakesh from Nurnberg was quite a short one. We had booked rooms at a hostel very close to the central markets in Marrakesh. We nervously got out of the airport as it was late at night and decided to get a taxi.
As soon as we got to the taxi stand, a hoard of drivers came to us and starting asking us to get in their cars. Me being awkwardly unsure as to whom I wanted to say yes to, I decided to stand there in silence trying to smile at everyone by which point the taxi drivers had started arguing to each other in Arabic. After a fair while, I finally reached the hostel which was in one of the hidden alleys outside the market centre.
Our host was Jamal, a tall handsome young man who showed us to our rooms. Having eaten only peanuts in our economy flight, I was very keen to head to the markets which was still bustling late at night. Out we went and decided to try Tagine at one of the street vendors, a very popular Moroccan dish cooked in an earthenware pot with vegetables and meat. Tea being a big part of their culture, we also got some tea which was given in a massive pot.
The next few days were spent wandering amongst the crowded and narrow alleys of Marrakesh, constantly filled with the smell of food, shops with colorful clothes, handmade pots and various exotic herbs and oils. Very often did I get easily identified as an Indian and vendors calling behind me, “Sharukh Khan, Sharukh Khan, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, come buy this shirt” and me awkwardly smiling back and waving “Kabhi Khushi Khabi Gham” and disappearing into the crowds. The next days went on with some hikes, visiting palaces and museums around the city.
We headed next to Chefchaouen, a gorgeous mountain town in the north of Morocco known for its popular blue-walled streets. The city wasn’t blue until the late 1400s, when there was an influx of Jews that were escaping the Spanish inquisition and brought with them the blue walls. Morocco is also very popular for its hash that is often largely exported to European countries like Netherlands.
We very often approached by locals wanting to sell some of the locally produced hash and to give tours of marijuana farms. We spent days basking in the sun with loads of mint tea and having peculiar conversations with a Chinese man at our hostel in his 50s who seemed to have a keen love for his spandex biking shorts that he always wore.
Our return flight was from Fes, a city popular for its large leather tanneries, walled medinas and big markets like Marrakesh. The narrow and dark streets around our hostel was slightly eerie, but nothing a big cup of fresh mint tea couldn’t soothe. The next day, we made friends with a young Moroccan boy called Abu who happily showed us around the tanneries and some of the markets.
For some reason, the Bollywood Sharukh Khan and Amitabh Bhachan calls seemed to be the only constant thing for the whole trip. After having eaten Couscous and Tagine for 10 days with never ending mint tea and fresh juices from the markets, we headed back to Germany with a happy tummy.