Arrived Casablanca this morning. But I want instead to tell you about my adventure yesterday in #Marrakech. I am pining for The Red City even as we speak. A friend of mine said I just might have found my “city of memories”, referring to the title of my 2013 novel.
I’d cancelled my trip to Fes so the extra day in Marrakech saw me moving from my riad in the Medina to the new quarter called Gueliz. While I’d loved the medina and its colourful traders and characters, the hotel was rather small even if quaint and I kept losing my way getting around anyway. I had breakfast, went shopping for a leather bag and checked out. I’d been told it would cost 15 dirhams from the medina to the Boulevard Abdelkarim el-Khattabi. The drivers in the rank said it was 100 dirhams and then proceeded to teach me how to pronounce both “el-Khattabi” and “Hotel Ezzhia”. I settled for 30 dirhams.
I had an ominous feeling when, just outside the old city, a horse-drawn tourist carriage showed up in front of us. And, sure as a slap, the carriage took off the bumper of my taxi. See drama! The skinny horse driver and skinny car driver go down to it speaking universal urban you-don-hit-my-car English (Arabic actually). Me? I took my bags out the boot jejely.
Took a different taxi. The driver was a true born Marrakech native and when another accident happened, he said “These two, not Marrakchis. . . the accent.” I smiled. He told me only 25% of the city’s dwellers were natives. We talked about the Nigeria—Morocco gas pipeline. I found it fascinating that a regular Joe Marrakchi knew about that. Moroccans are involved in their country in a way Nigerians are not. It speaks of two very different types of elite and ways which societies can be ordered.
In the afternoon, I went to my friend, Housain’s, favourite café which is not far from my new hotel—a 300-metre walk. It is called Le Diamant Vert (The Green Diamond), just opposite the University of Science and Technology, at the corner with Hamza Road. I had lunch, spaghetti, and watched the students come and go as I worked on a document.
Later, Housain came around. We drove around the city including the Menara arcade, which was closed, and then we parked the car and flanuered for a few hours about Gueliz, drinking coffee, trying street food and taking serious philosophy—H has a Ph.d in psychology and in showing me his city, I learned again what friendship truly can be.
And that, my friends, is how I fell more hopelessly in love with Marrakech.
#OneAfrica #Travel #TravelWriting #Morocco