Color is what makes Morocco unlike any place I have seen before. India is full of colorful outerwear, but Morocco is splashed with color in every form and vibrant shade one never thought possible. Crack open the cobalt found in the Atlas Mountains and your taken aback with sparkling purples, pinks and blues. Speckled blacks and whites. Famous Moroccan carpets dyed with indigo and alfalfa. Spattered with patterns woven in shades too rich for even Crayola to attempt. Blue blue scarves and red red shirts. And most of all, the color of spices.
The souk of old town Marrakech is unlike any market I have been to of late as it does not seem fishy. I mean, it does not smell of fish! It is clean. It’s products are precisely what you would imagine finding in a Moroccan market, although not all the products are Moroccan in nature. It is a blend of cultures represented with Berber designs as is most everything in Morocco. You walk through this North African market and you feel like you’ve stepped into Arabia.
In it’s market stalls you find whole rows of booths selling oranges squeezed into glasses. There are stalls with nuts and dates complete with a man and monkey on the street-front luring tourists in to pay a small fee for a photo and, probably, a monkey-disease. There are booths of “traditional” clothes, curved knives that are too dull to cut through an envelope, and silver jewelry of mediocre quality. Shoes with pointed, up-turned toes, silver tea-pots with beautifully stamped designs on them, brightly designed hand-bags, camel-leather wallets, and, in case you failed to realize that this is a place for travelers, booths with witty Moroccan themed t-shirts.
We found a café to call “our’s” and sipped on café-au-lait and Moroccan mint tea while watching a belly-dancer through the next-door restaurant’s windows. An imported art from some Middle-Eastern country or other. Pleasure was had as we made fun of the semi-drunken jack-asses attempting to belly-dance with the beautiful woman in front of the dinner crowd.
The buildings are colorful. The tapestries hanging from walls are colorful. Even the neutrals carry the yellow-orange tint of Saharan sands. A perfect backdrop to the visual experience found all around.
The spices are distinctly Moroccan. Every place I’ve been smells of different spices. India smells of Indian spice. Cambodia smells of Cambodia. Morocco. Morocco smells better than them all. This smell is represented in rich colors dotting the market-places and street stalls. And it is here that I end this brief intro into Morocco lest I spoil the rest with my little rant about color.
A side note. This first day wandering the markets of Morocco was an amazing way to celebrate this, the 22 of September, as it is my 28th birthday today. Happy birthday to me!!!