In the middle of the city of Marrakech is the marketplace. A giant open space surrounded by small stores and mosques. And filled with people. The people are the heart and soul of Marrakech, and I would challenge anyone who doesn't smile at the conversations and advances of the Morroccan people.
By day, the market houses souks (stalls) and juice stands, along with a few guys who own monkeys wearing pink shorts, some ladies who do fake henna tattoos and some snake charmers. (Note: There is no such thing as a free
lunch photo taken of a snake/with a snake/of a monkey/with a monkey/henna tattoo/henna flower/tour guide/anything in Marrakech. I recommend learning to say no in french - it will make life a lot more enjoyable and a lot less awkward...)
At dusk, setup begins for what will soon transform into the food markets. What can only be described as a cacophony of sound and smells, of hustle and bustle emerges from the ground up. Tourists from all walks of life are propositioned by men selling their wares - juice, scarves, herbs, hats. They speak fabulous english and entice you with promises that their product is 'the best ever' and they are having a 'half price sale', or even a 'liquidation sale'!
The food stalls are numbered - a vibrant man stops you to inform you 'Number 117, it will take you to heaven.' A few steps on is 'Number 88, you just can't wait'. The food is cheap and potentially cat related (there are a large number of stray cats for the taking), but it feels like just what you need after a 46 degree day browsing the souks and drinking lemonade in the (very warm) shade.
Somehow the market manages to feel inviting, welcoming and exciting while at the same time making one feel a little anxious, frightened and overwhelmed. Marrakech is amazing and even life changing in its entirety. The people and the culture make for an experience like no other - one to be absorbed by osmosis and processed when the time is right.
As the sun goes down over one of Africa's busiest and most lively open air markets, it is easy to believe that you have stepped into some kind of cultural show. The square and its entertainment is certainly aimed at tourists (and their wallets), and the locals are most welcoming and attentive.
Marrakech, you crazy city you. See you again soon.