The sounds of Marrakech welcomed us. We stared in awe at the scene before us, as we had stared at the camels along the road during the taxi ride. The colors were burnt oranges and browns. Everywhere Aladdin-esque music, our ears perked up upon hearing the Berber flutes in the distance. We walked into our Riad. The interior was comfortable; the fabrics of satin bright hues enveloped us warmly.

We headed for the souks.

- “Here, Madam here. Come see my scarves. I will give you a good price.”

- “Maybe tomorrow.” we replied, always.

The next day they would answer with: “It is tomorrow today Madam. Come see my scarves.” And we would. We bought many scarves.

Peas flew all over as I tried to get them out of their pods. The Moroccan women laughed, we laughed as well.

We visited a small palace of Islamic architecture, walking slowly, staring at the sculpted ceiling and patterned tiles. We ate tagine. The meat tasted of wood fire and earth. The mixture of Raz-El-Hanout spices tingled on our tongues as the world stopped moving around us. I photographed the Arabic writing on our bottles of Coke.

We learned how to cook tagine. Walking to the food market between my mum and our teacher, we chose fresh vegetables - potatoes, carrots, peas. I learned how to say “Shokran”. We cut the vegetables and laid them out in the tagine. Peas flew all over as I tried to get them out of their pods. The Moroccan women laughed. We laughed as well. We rolled beef into small meatballs and flavored them. Tomatoes were laid out with them at the bottom of a second dish. We left the tagines to simmer. At dinnertime, the chicken and beef tagines magically appeared on our table accompanied by orange and cinnamon salad and fresh strawberries. We shared the food with the rest of the Riad guests. It was impossible to finish.

- “It’s a game Madam. Give me a price.”

In the souks, we spoke of what we saw to engrave the way into our memories, creating a trail of mental breadcrumbs. Deeper into the maze, we bought paintings and blankets, scarves and jewellery. My mum was a vigorous negotiator and often got the prices down to more than half the asking price. She enjoyed it and the men enjoyed bartering with her.

- “It’s a game Madam. Give me a price.”

I stared in awe as we all left with smiles, them with money in hand, us with beautiful fabrics or golden bracelets.

We finished our sweet mint tea and headed across the square.

- “Come close Madam. He’s not dangerous.”

I found my mum many meters away. She watched the scene unfold from this great distance due to her striking fear of snakes.

I stepped closer to touch the snake’s head. My mistake. Before I knew how it had gotten there the snake was around my neck. Its head was touched to my neck and then my wrist. It was cold. Its eyes seemed drugged. It had no reaction to the show it was part of. I tried to get away but the man held on, saying a prayer as he continued to press the snake’s head to my forehead.

- “For your father, your mother, your future.”

I disentangled myself finally and as he pursued me for a coin, I gave him something small and fled. He screamed angrily behind me. The whole thing was a sad affair.

I found my mum many meters away. She watched the scene unfold from this great distance due to her striking fear of snakes. I told her I might have been robbed. She promised if she saw anything amiss she would’ve run to my rescue. Reassuring words.

Too soon, we headed back to the airport. Just one last cup of sweet tea.

             

The Writer

I write stuff for fun, if it was for a living I would be homeless.

Find out more about me, Stefanie, here.

Quotes

Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God. Kurt Vonnegut