MARRAKECH: THE CITY OF THE MAGIC DOORS




Oh, I’m in love! I’m in love with a pink city that comes alive at sundown. In the mornings, the sweet African breeze is cool and crisp. I'd wake up before 5A.M. every day, and hear the call to prayer from my balcony. The sun had barely started to shine and the glow of my computer screen tints my face in blue. As I type out morning e-mails and messages, I feel content with where things are at in my life. This is the best place to be in the moment in, and I don't waste time being outside of myself. I can hear the birds chirping from the riad and the streets are less busy.

The best part of the day is starting it out with thé de menthe in the morning. I have at least six cups because I love the fresh mint so much that now it’s a part of my routine. Do it over again for lunch and dinner, and in my friend's shops. I wish this was a practice I could bring back with me to America.

As you walk through the labyrinth, you get some sights! Stray cats roam the streets like lazy royalty, there are beautiful iron doors with pastel colors or stark black and white patterns. I did not cross a door I did not love for its rustic, artisanal qualities. The streets are cobblestoned and many of the walls of he labyrinth have been worn down by the desert’s climate. Many of the patterns seen overhead are in lace. What a Romantic place! Agrabah has come to life!







The shops open form 11A.M. until 10P.M. In some cases, some shops close at 11P.M. or midnight. The shopkeepers are always active, and they will remember you. I have never quite seen hustling game like they have it in the Middle East. The people of the Medina are expert hagglers and hustlers. Both Mom and I learned a thing or two about closing a sale simply from interacting with them.

Another highlight from Marrakech is the attention that you get. It doesn't matter if you're clearly not responsive, it won't discourage them from trying. Everybody gets it, it's hard to avoid when you're passing by the streets.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!” “España?” “How many camels?”

I don’t think I’ve ever received so many compliments in a day. These people will do anything to lure you into their shop and sell you something!






At first, you can easily get overwhelmed by the hustle and the noise. I sure was! It took me a full set of 24 hours before I felt more confident navigating the labyrinth of the Medina, and two full days to feel comfortable being out past 8p.m.

The next we found ourselves walking through the door of our riad at 1:30a.m., arms heavy with two handira and accompanying pillow cases. I was glowing with excitement. These marriage blankets are made in the mountains by Berber women, commitments to their marriage. With growing popularity, they have started to produce these blankets in other colors, but the traditional ones are the white ones. Those were also really gorgeous.

I ended up purchasing three: an XL black one, a medium white one and a small purple one. I can't tell you which one I love more! It is simply impossible to. They are all gorgeous, but my white one will be the one getting the most use.

Haggling the prices for the handira blankets was an experience. Well, finding them was, as well. We went around the entire Medina looking for the right style and scale. After combing through shops and piling blanket after blanket atop one another, we met the charming Mouad. Sitting at the 4th floor of this Moroccan artisanship superstore, the piles flopped on the floor as we sat around, drinking the most delicious mint tea I had during my time in Morocco.




Another quiet source of magic in Marrakech is their garlands. I have a tendency to notice light patterns wherever I go, so these shops were quite a delight. After admiring tea sets, bridal dresses and marriage blankets, the one regret I have is being unable to bring some garlands back. They were all so gorgeous!

The shopping here is unparalleled. Truly. I still dream of some of the tea sets I saw while hunting for my handira blankets. I think we lost count of how many times we came back to the Medina. Something else that we enjoyed that I didn't get to take a photo of is the dried fruit and nuts vendors. I'd delight in some grapefruit juice and dried apricots for snacking and keeping cool. Soooo good!




With each new blanket that flopped onto the floor, I cheered. Those handmade patterns and sequins delight! I saw them in all colors and sizes, and ended up going home with a large black one and a medium white one with some of the most beautiful little details I have seen on handira to date. Now I regularly flop around my bed and delight in the magic of my marriage blankets. I found a third purple one to drape over my couch, and it delights my day every morning when I first walk out of my room.

We took a day to go to the desert of Palmeraie, delighting in camel rides and stopping to drink some water. It was some of the best fun we’ve had in months. When we were done, we got dropped off in the new city of Gueliz. There, we found some really excellent restaurants and a modern Marrakech that we couldn’t help but fall in love with. We kept repeating how impressed we were with what Morocco has to offer, and how much we enjoyed the culture despite how different it is from our own.









I took great enjoyment from kaftan hunting at the Medina. Isibella asked me to bring her back a dress, and I had a great time haggling with vendors. One of them recognized me in the street randomly and greeted me as you would a long time friend.

We went to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and to a few castles. I think my favorite exhibit was that of the Berebere people and how they accessorized themselves.

At night our usual go-to place to have dinner was this Spanish restaurant, where we’d sneak wine and delight in candlelit dinner. We became friends with the owners who shared their life stories with us and greeted us with gusto every evening.

Witnessing sun down on a rooftop in the Medina is something else. I’ll never forget the contrasting pinks and teals in the night sky.







The walk back to our riad every night was hustling and bustling. The markets take on new life at night. Many a time we would find our way back at midnight without concern for our safety even though we traversed the streets of Marrakech alone. It is truly a wonderful, magical place.

On our last day in Marrakech we took a tour to the Atlas mountains to visit a Berber village. I got to hang out with the locals and they taught me how to make argan oil for any ailment you can think of. I saw some more handira that I fantasized about taking home and ended up hiking the Atlas mountains.

The hike was extremely dangerous. There were no ropes to help keep you grounded and the rocks were at times slippery. I found myself asking, “why do I do this to myself?” when I had to go up a thin metal latter that had nothing but rocks after. I only made it because the tour guide helped me get through it.

It was well worth the risk though in my opinion. I found peace in the Atlas mountains. After visiting the waterfall, I fell asleep in a nearby resting area with blankets and pillows. I woke up to silence and the feeling that everything was falling into place. I found myself at peace with myself. No noise, no concerns or burdens. No self-loathing. All of my problems and dramas had gone away for that moment and I felt truly happy. I sat there meditating and enjoying the African breeze, marveling at the sacred grounds I tread.




Still today I can close my eyes and go back there. I remember the way the light of day hit the boulders and the shadows it cast because of it. I remember the clear water of the waterfall and how refreshing it was to sit by it, contemplating my life.

The answer is that I say yes to adventure because it helps define me as an individual. I’ve done some amazing things and found happiness because of it. My happiness is not dependent on others most of the time, but rather in the amazing events I experience. I am a very solitary person, but I find joy in sharing my blessings with others when they wish to participate.

This trip was so good for me. Still today I find myself craving mint tea and feeling the African breeze on my face. These pictures are enough to last me for a while, though, and for that I am thankful.








The lace city delighted me with its mint tea and wild, wild streets. Oh, to traverse the maze of the Medina is a dream come true. I miss it all the time, but I'm glad I got to experience its magic first hand.

It's also kind of sad, but I lost my moonstone necklace in New York on my way back from the trip. Many times I thought to give it back or pass it on, but I wasn't expecting to part with it this way. I kind of wish I hadn't brought it, but that part of my life is over so I chalked it up to time claiming it when my time with it was up. Kind of an emotional conclusion to a venture of self-discovery. I wonder where it ended up.

Edit: I have since replaced the moonstone necklace. Now it only has my initials, and all feels right.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful 2018!
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