An overwhelming sensory overload is how I would describe shopping in Marrakech. Firstly there are the smells: spices, donkey dung, moped fumes, fish, incense… then the sounds: people calling out to you ‘shakira’ ‘hannah Montana’ to get your attention, attempting to shown you the way to the Jemaa el Fna (even if that’s not where you want to go), mopeds revving, bike bells dinging and children calling to each other.
Some streets are narrow and covered, others are wider and open, but they were all full of locals zipping dangerously close on mopeds, bicycles or donkeys dragging carts of various cargo. Exploring was fun if a little bit stressful as at every corner someone will attempt to point you in the right direction or get you to come into their shop. There are sporadic signs directing you to various places but often you’ll get to a junction with no sign and have to guess which way to head!
In terms of feeling unsafe in a group of three females, I didn’t! Even when we got a little bit lost and ended up letting a teenage boy and his two chums lead us in the right direction (which was possibly a bit convoluted anyway, though I still paid him (not enough in his opinion!)) I never felt worried for my safety, plus who’s going to mug a pregnant lady!
The square itself was full of snake charmers, monkeys on shoulders and ladies attempting to henna your hands, as well as fruit and spice sellers and all sorts of other traders. The highlight was a guy selling teeth, single and dentures! Along one edge are hundreds of horses and carriages waiting to take passengers wherever they should want to visit, sadly we didn’t really have the time but I would have loved to go on a bit of a tour around the rest of the city that we didn’t explore on foot!
We escaped the craziness in riads (like guest houses) which had cafes and restaurants, and the place where we stopped for Lunch on the Tuesday even had three tortoises strolling around looking for scraps to eat! The riads had enclosed gardens, so although you were only a few feet away from all the hustle and bustle of the souks it was a nice relaxed environment to chill out in and enjoy a tagine!
I’ll do another post about the hotel where we stayed and what I bought and the shopping experience as a whole in a couple of days!