This would be Molly's least favourite part of Marrakech, I think. When we walk out of our local neighbourhood here the assault starts immediately; we pass by fish sellers, chicken butchers, and people barbecuing meats with smoke blowing everywhere. Further along we smell the spices in the shops which are lovely, but they can't disguise the filth of horse and donkey poop. We have yet to visit the leather tanneries, but we've been told that may be too overwhelming on the nose to stand.
The sights are amazing, but a lot to process. A lot of Marrakech is rundown. Molly asked, as we walked through the city yesterday, why no one fixed the terribly broken sidewalks. I had to explain there was just no money to do it - this is something a Canadian born child just doesn't get.
The buildings appear stable, but most are cracked and the once colourful paint has faded and chipped. There's just a general appearance of "old and tired."
The people appear to be hard-working and busy - the streets are full of men, women, old and young going places, selling Moroccan crafts and food, and gathering to chat in the evenings.
The visual chaos of the place, especially the traffic, is maybe what makes me like it so much. Yesterday we visited a beautiful and serene garden, purchased and preserved by Yves Saint Laurent. We arrived there after a 4k walk through normal busy streets and life, so the garden's beauty and peace was appreciated. We also say a Berber Museum and viewed some traditional costumes, jewelry and crafts. The break was lovely, but I was anxious to get back out onto the busy streets to see real Marrakech.
I think I prefer being woken by the neighbours rooster more than the blaring of the call-to-prayer from loudspeaker, but 5:30 each morning - and multiple times during the day - we hear the chant that must stir the entire city.
Thank goodness the motorcycles have horns because they whiz by within an inch and some are kind enough to blow their horn if we haven't gotten out of the way. The bikes are everywhere. Molly said, as we approached the riad we're staying at, "Listen. No Motorcycles." For about 3 seconds, it was possible to not hear any, but the local kids' laughter was quickly drowned out by bikes speeding past.
Another sounds we've enjoyed here is our kids laughter. They've enjoyed having Isabel, Alex and Amelia to play with. Last night we heard a bit of squealing as they jumped into the riad's unheated pool at 9pm. The road's owner says they just use the pool in the summer when the temperature gets up to 52!!!
DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!
That's what our kids keep hearing. Don't touch the things in the shops or you'll have to argue not to buy it. Don't touch any of the ferrel cats or they might get rabies and you'll be in for rabies shots. Don't touch the people because some Muslim men can't have women touch them....it's a long list, so we recommend they keep their hands to themselves....and use lots of hand sanitizer before eating anything.
I think I've saved the best to last. We've had good food here. I've eaten more olives in 2 days than anyone should, but they're delicious and are put down with most meals. We've had great meat kababs that have just enough exotic flavour for us to fee like they're special, but not so much that the kids won't eat them. The tagine (clay baked food) has also been great. The pungent spices on cooked vegetables and meats have been wonderful. I've yet to have the couscous, but that's on my agenda today. We were worried the kids might dislike the food, but they've been brave and experimental. Most of us had camel burgers for dinner last night. Apparently it isn't common (too expensive) but it was good - it tasted like a cross between red meat and wild game - lean but hearty. One of today's missions it to find another stall selling fried bread smothered in honey. I try not to think of the process and just enjoy the flavour.