Marrakech

Jemaa el Fna at mid-day
Jemaa el Fna at mid-day

Marrakech was a fascinating place. We visited Jemaa el Fna Square twice. Independently, with friends Tom and Ellen we revisited two bars in Tom’s favorite, and famous, hotel, La Mamounia, for cocktails: 15 euro gin and tonics.

The first time in the square was in the evening, when all the food, juggling, dancing, story-telling and snake charming is taking place – every evening. There’s no place like it. I didn’t get many photos because we were warned not to photograph the people or we would be bombarded with people asking for 10 dirhams – roughly a dollar. So I did stealth video for 18 minutes as our group walked around the square – just holding the camcorder closed at waist level. I got great shots of asses, elbows, backs and shoulders of our group members as well as a flavour for the sounds of the place. Few clips snipped from the 18 minutes lasted longer that 15 seconds.

Video Clips: Only if you’re keen; the quality isn’t good and they’re very short, but they convey an atmosphere:

           Carriage Ride to Jemaa el-Fna         

           Snake Charmer         

         Dancers       

         Food Stalls For The Brave       

         Call to Prayer – Koutoubia Mosque       

         Bell Ringer       

Jemaa el-Fna at Night

           Candle lady at restaurant         

Belly Dancer 1

Morocco – From Tanger to Fes

On our way to Fes from Tanger in March 2011 we stopped at Assilah, a resort town on Morocco’s Atlantic coast that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young missed, resulting in their song, Marrakech Express. They were too high to remember to get off the train, and ended up in Marrakech. French is Morocco’s second language; if you speak it you will meet even more nice people…

We were on a guided tour run by Insight Vacations. These photos were taken from the roomy Mercedes bus, hence the slight glare. My polarizing filter came in handy to reduce it. If you have an older SLR, here’s a trick I learned to use when in a bus: I select shutter speed priority of around 1/1000th s. Then I use 0.3 exposure bracketing, forcing the camera to take three shots in rapid succession. This usually gives me at least one shot without a passing “telephone pole” ruining it.
If all the people who mistrust Muslims could be persuaded to spend a few, all-expenses-paid, days exploring Morocco, much healing would result. My humble suggestion: Take some of that money spent on high-tech weaponry and do something really good with it…
The next travel post will focus on Fes, Morocco’s holiest and most historic city with a most amazing medina, or old town. Fes boasts the oldest surviving university on the planet. It was founded by a woman.