As I avoid the other commuters on the bustling Broadway, lugging my laptop, trying to appear an efficient Real Grown Up, the waft from one of the sheesha cafes now more prolific than Starbucks in London, hits me. It channels not just through my nostrils, but envelopes my brain and caresses my sense. Suddenly I’m back in Marrakech.
I’m laying in the Riad, the trickling fountain in the centre of the courtyard a little oasis away from the oppressive heat, laying back on the sumptuous cushions that are coloured the ever prevalent deep blue, simultanously seaside, sky and soul. I am soon awakened from my somnolence – our host has just placed a glass of hot sugary mint tea beside me, an instant reviver.
The smells of Marrakech having already suffused my bloodstream, I venture out to indulge the rest of my senses. A complete olfactory bombardment, the myriad sights and smell layer upon one another, each another thin sliver in the journey from history from future. Winding through the alleys I become intrigued the shops and market, each an Aladdin’s cave with every corner revealing a new treasure.
Although affectionately named ‘the pink city’ Marrakech is a sunshine spectrum, the red ruddiness suggestive of the sanguine nature of the city. Orange juice stalls dabble the square, the red of the sunset, the pink minaret of the Koutobin, orotund maroon domes and the tomato red of the now wordly ubiquotis Coca Cola signs all blend together to give the visitor the feeling that they have slipped inside a red marble, all swirling colours.
I step out of the final alley in my maze and am met by Jmea El Fna – the central square that is the definition of alive.
The square hums with activity. I eat at one of the many bbqs that grace the centre of the square, the bright green of the herbs that decorate the food drawing us into the freshness, and the fact that I could no longer hide that I’m visibily salivating
After, I avoid the many waiters trying to drag me in to their establishments, informing me I still need more of their ‘lovely jubbly’ food, and weave away from the women daubing their henna brushes in my face to be met by snake charmers on the left and dancing monkeys on the right, and confronted head on by an old lady offering to reveal my future with only the flick of a wrist and a flash of a tarot card – all these seem to have been eschewed by the locals, and a five deep circle has gathered around some spectacle on the left side of the square.
I try to wriggle through the crowd to see, and am met with men rolling around on the floor, standing up proclaiming words, acting out a play. I don’t understand a word, but the joy and intensity of simple creativity sums up the Marrakech mood.
An intensity that the road I walk in London just can’t match.