Every time I go to a new place, I feel like I'm discovering another piece to the puzzle. The puzzle being me and the pieces necessary to the person I'm meant to become. While I'm there, I think about when I'll return and what I would do differently. But when I leave, I know I'll likely never be back. There are too many missing pieces.
Marrakech was nothing I expected it to be. The city is divided in half between the old and the new. Old city streets branch off from main roads with haphazard twists and turns and two important characteristics: the roads (1) lead to a dead end and (2) are lined with Riads. The overarching goals: safety, quiet and cooler temperatures. With roads leading to nowhere but home, strangers are discouraged from traveling on it unless they live there. Riads are traditional Moroccan family houses with an open courtyard and a water feature at the base, surrounded by rooms, offering cool respites from the medina madness.
Most riads have been converted into hotels and restaurants. We stayed in the old city, aka the Medina, at Riad Kaiss.
[view from the rooftop of Riad Kaiss]
The best decision of the trip was hiring Abdul for our first day walking through the Medina. Relaxed and informative, he brought us by local restaurants and shops that he was friendly with, without feeling pushy or self interested. He brought up controversial topics and expressed his views - views I certainly wanted to hear about but didn't have the courage to bring up on my own.
[Chez Lamine - our favorite meal in Marrakech]
[He stokes the fires of the community hammam and jams out on his breaks]
[Ben Youssef Madrasa]
We ended our first day watching the sun set over Jamaa el Fna. The square is both beautiful and sense-assaulting. Snake charmers, break dancers, monkey handlers and henna painters use aggressive tactics to gain your attention. Salesman wander offering sweets, kebabs, one-off cigarettes, orange juice... anything really.
The following day we set off to the "new" city. New is a misleading description. The highlight is Majorelle Gardens, which is as stunning and dreamy in person as it is in photos.
But, as soon as you leave the gates of Majorelle to discover the surrounding neighborhood, you find sidewalks in disrepair, lined with garbage and condemned buildings.
If I came back, I'd spend 2 nights in the Medina at a Riad - one day wandering with Abdul and another half day at the souks. After lunch at Chez Lamine, I'd head south to the Atlas Mountains for hiking and 2 nights at Kasbah du Toubkal.
But will I be back?