Nov 6, 2006

Assembling in the Place of the Dead

The Wah and I are currently sitting just off the Djemaa al-Fna, Marakech's most famous square. The Arabic name translates as "Assembly of the Dead", and historically the square was used for displaying the heads of those unfortunate enough to be executed there. These days the most frightening thing you will come across is an angry cobra, thankfully de-fanged by its owner, who spends his days poking at the snake for the benefit of tourists.

The suare is the heart and soul of Morocco's third-largest city, also known as the "Pink City" due to the peach hue of the surrounding earth used to construct the city's buildings. Along with the snake charmers there's a whirlwind of musicians, dancers, story-tellers, boxers, henna tattoists, beggars, steaming food stalls and cheery orange juice salesmen. It's a marvel of life, colour and energy, and that's BEFORE you venture into the souks - the famous twisting maze of narrow streets, along which are lined stores selling silks, dyed cottons, leather handbags and pouffes, beautiful wrought-iron and glass lights, wooden carved soccer balls and chess sets... there seems to be an amazing variety, but actually after a while you feel like you've seen it all. Then it's time to haggle.

So far Greg and I have done reasonably well, although I came very close to laying out 500 dirhams (almost 100 dollars) on a beautiful and huge red-and-gold throw.... luckily I realised what I was doing! There's a certain magic about the souk, and you do have to watch yourself sometimes to make sure you don't get too caught up in the ritual of bargaining!

Tonight we met our 12-strong Intrepid tour group - mostly Aussies, but with a couple of Canadians, a Kiwi and a Belgian thrown in for good measure. Our group leader is a chilled-out Aussie named Craig, and I think he'll make sure we have a good time.

We're off in the morning so I'd better go... will write again when I next find a net cafe!

Cheers, Natalie.

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