Marrakech

Our eight day trip around Morocco starts off in Marrakech.

We’re staying at Riad Hala, a tiny family run place just a few tight alleyways away from the main town square.

Frankie and Paul in front of the door to our riad
Morocco is culturally the farthest I’ve ever been from home. I’ve learned that photos can’t prepare you for a sensory overload.
One of the first things we see when we get out of our taxi from the airport is a hooded cobra, mesmerised by an old snake charmer. As we listen to his haunting Arabian tune, the call to prayer rings out from all the mosques. They’re the only taller buildings in the bustling medina district and serve as some of the only landmarks as we navigate the labyrinthine terracotta streets surrounding them.
More than a little unnerving!
My concentration is broken by an old man calling to me in French to get out of the way of his donkey as it pulls who-knows-what behind it in a dilapidated cart.
An old porter from our riad has met the taxi at the edge of the medina to show us the way. He’s missing his front teeth and doesn’t speak any English, but I can recall enough French to understand what he means when he mutters something and gestures his leathery hand towards a busy alley just past the main square.
He’s telling us where to find the main markets. I can see a few of the stalls near the entrance selling brightly colored traditional clothing. There’s an fascinating aroma I later discover to be a mix of mint tea, Moroccan spices and cakes of musky perfume.
After leaving our bags at the riad and changing into something cooler, we head in to explore the markets up close.
One apothecary spends about 15 minutes showing us traditional Moroccan deodorant (a quartzlike crystal), toothpicks (a pinecone with spines that you break off) lipstick (a clay lid with paste from a crushed red flower on one side) and even viagra (a ginseng root that you boil with water and sugar).
Naturally, he charges us triple what we should have paid for our bag of spices and cake of musk perfume, but we decide not to care: his show was worth it.
It’s only our first day, after all.
Spot the kitten
Sunset over the medina from the roof of our riad