For many of us GlobeKickers, the touch down in Marrakech was the first time we had ever planted our boots on African soil. Needless to say, it was a combination of exhilaration, fear, excitement, anxiety and pride that we had finally reached our final destination intact and inspired.
Our riads are situated throughout the Medina, the Old City in the heart of Marrakech. The Medina is a labyrinth of streets and alleyways exploding with thousands upon thousands of tiny shops where one can purchase elaborately decorated Berber knives, ornate jewelry, shisha pipes, handmade clay pottery, Argan oils and a variety of health and cosmetic products crafted from nothing more than rosewater and a touch of Moroccan exuberance. It is custom to always barter with shop owners, a trade that many GlobeKickers are finding easier and more fun as the days pass.
The transition from Europe to Africa is jolting, to say the least. In the Medina, the comforts of modernity are exchanged for a way of life that is direct, fast-paced, humbling and at times, slightly scary. The calm and collected western way of life becomes obsolete in these loud and twisting alleys. Moroccans can easily identify westerners with money and are not afraid to follow, yelling deals in order to sell their wears. The tight roads of the Medina eventually open into what the Moroccans have deemed the Big Place, a square bustling with restaurants, food carts, snake charmers, dancing monkeys and the like. It isn’t difficult to spend hours in the Big Place, moving from shop to shop in an effort to find the best deal for your dirham.
Five times a day, the skies erupt in Islamic prayer booming from countless megaphones positioned throughout the Old City and the New. It is a beautiful and sobering reminder that across the globe and regardless of religion, we are all humans begging a higher force for a better life.
Our first weekend in Morocco found many of us traveling to the Sahara Desert for a few nights under the most beautiful stars we’ve ever seen. We hopped on the humped backs of camels, traversed the ever-shifting dunes of the Sahara, camped in Berber rug tents in the middle of the desert and danced around fire until the early hours of the morning. We sang our hearts out and bonded like the true family we have become.
Morocco is definitely unusual, but it is entirely intoxicating. – Nick Holloway, GlobeKicker