Lost in Moroccan city life

Morocco’s big cities, Marrakesh and Fez, left me in a dizzying daze. A seemingly endless maze of narrow streets and alleys twisted to crowded markets, towering mosques and ancient tanneries.

alleys

Lost in the shuffle of the fast-paced hustle and bustle, Marrakesh overwhelmed me as my first stop out of The Gambia in over a year and a half. Asking for directions came with a fee and no one stopped just to say hello. Still, the city was a much-needed reminder that the whole world isn’t made out of dust.

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My mom and I enjoyed being “those tourists”: getting yelled at for taking pictures of the king’s palace, buying way too many souvenirs and scooting around Marrakesh by horse-drawn carriage – that is until my mother succumbed to her animal allergies and ended up looking like a desperate housewife with mascara running from her red, puffy eyes. Luckily, Morocco is known for its pharmacies of herbal remedies that surprisingly worked faster than any allergy pill I’ve ever taken.

At the market

At the market

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In the plaza, also known as “big square.”

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Cesar the horse trying to eat my mom’s hair…

Our conductor

Our conductor

City livin

City livin’

Herbs and spices to the rescue!

Herbs and spices to the rescue!

The booming call to prayer echoed from mosques on every corner. Magnificent architecture marked more than just places of worship. Palaces turned restaurants and hotels, schools turned museums all featured beautiful mosaic tiles and hand-etched engravings.

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One of many beautiful mosques.

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A former koranic school

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A window at an old Koranic school.

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Peek-a-boo

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Calligraphy engraved on every wall of an old Koranic school.

Fez was more of the same sans the horse-drawn carriage incident. Here, the twisty streets also led us to a tannery where we watched workers make leather. Unfortunately, the tourist trap business model stunk up the place even more than the hides soaking in pigeon poop.

tannery construction

This part of the tannery was being restored while we were there.

tannery poop

This is where the hides are soaked in pigeon poop.

It was pretty smelly!

It was pretty smelly!

This man is taking all the fat off the skin.

This man is taking all the fat off the skin.

A friendly salesman.

One salesman who was actually friendly.

A cat nap!

A cat nap!

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Just part of the three-story shop.

Just as I expected, eating any and all food that wasn’t rice was my favorite part of these Moroccan cities: steamed vegetables and roasted meat cooked in a traditional “tajine,” grilled kabobs, piles of fruit, layers of pastries and rows and rows of vendors peddling fresh-squeezed orange juice. Although not a traditional salad of lettuce and veggies, the “Moroccan salad” featuring a vast array of side dishes including olives and spiced carrots, was also a unique treat. As if these meals, often served atop rooftop terraces, weren’t enough, I even found an American style salad and burger at a couple ex-pat owned venues.

Tajine

Tajine

Kabobs

Kabobs

Pastries galore.

Pastries galore.

Moroccan salad

Moroccan salad

Heaven on a plate

Heaven on a plate .. Cafe Clock for the win!

A camel burger. Cafe Clock did it again!

A camel burger. Cafe Clock did it again!

And dessert. Seriously, you must visit Cafe Clock in Marrakesh and Fez.

And dessert. Seriously, you must visit Cafe Clock in Marrakesh and Fez.

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The BEST fresh-squeezed orange juice

–JDF