Marrakech express and beyond
A dish of vegetable tajine fries in front of me, the smell of peppers enters the nose and prepares body and soul to a quiet dinner in a silky Moroccan night. The tagine dish keeps the vegetables hot, earthenware, hot, served with a cover rthat reminds me of the Berbers’ hat, the desert people, a simple food but healthy and nutritious. Stars dot the magic sky behind the tower of the mosque, the muezzin has already called to prayer with his loud chant. The moon lights up the snow that covers the peaks of the Atlas mountains, the air is balmy, rich of spices and mint tea flavor.
The earthenware pot is brown, rough as the earth, as the mountains and the skin of the Berbers who live there. Brown, like the walls that still protect the medina, the old city of Marrakesh, the walls, rough and brown stand out against a sky so clear and blue that it seems unreal. The April sky above Marrakech is clear, temperatures are already high, over 35 C degrees in the daytime, but lucky enough the weather is quite dry so it does not make you sweat.
Not sweating is very lucky as Stefano’s backpack, with most of his clother was sent to Canada and it is two days that we do not know anything about it, not a great start for our round-the-world trip, this fact annoys us but it does not discourage us, these things happen when travelling and we are quite confident the backpack will arrive soon. We will recover it after three days by going to the airport one evening, on an old Mercedes taxi, beige and upholstered with a waxed fabric and printed with tigers. In the orange light of sunset we return to the Jemaa-el-Fna that we had already visited during the day and a variegated collection of: snake charmers, smiling guys selling juices, girls returning from school, little monkeys on a leash to take a picture with the tourists with an incongruous curiosity towards animals but an unexplicable tolerance toward their mistreatment. As the evening comes, Jemma-el-Fna square lits up with thousands of lights, faces and smiles, it begins a new life even more sparkling and shimmering. Thousands of Moroccans flock into the square to hear storytellers narrate legends, ancient and modern, to watch new and old magician performances, listening to street musicians but also to enjoy a quick meal in one of the dozens of temporary, but very organized, restaurants occupying the central part of the square. During the dinner it can happen to be approached by clever henna tattoos painters that within seconds they paint your hands with exotic decorations. Each dinner can not be defined as such without a taste of Moroccan pastry, sold by dozens of mobile carts moving around the chaotic and lively square.
We lost count of how many artists, dancers and street vendors we met in the street selling everything and although often we resist, sooner or later it is impossible not to succumb to the temptation of trying freshly fried chips, salted or sweet peanuts or popcorn but also to street-food hearty cooked and sold on the spot such as: chick-pea soup and sandwiches containing anything edible they can contain. In the medina anything is sold from dentures exposed on display to shoes, carpets, shawls, curtains, footrest, extremely colorful scarves of all colors: yellow, red, green, purple and blue.