What can you buy for 100 Euros? A pair of shoes or a dinner in a fancy restaurant? What about a roundtrip ticket to Morroco? That‘s what me and Viktorija did.
It was already late evening in Marrakech, when the driver from our hotel picked us at the airport. The first impression was nice: warmth, wide and tight streets surrounded with greenery. After 15 minutes ride, the driver stopped at the gas station and said that now we have to go with another man. While we figured out, what is going on, our backpacks were put into a wheelbarrow. So here we were following an unknown man, who was carrying our stuff and didn’t even speak English, through narrow, dark streets, full with garbage and some random, poorly looking locals. We were laughing that a normal person would freak out in this kind of situation, but I was feeling quite calm. Maybe, because I was a bit tired. Soon we checked in our hotel and went to hunt for some food.
At 12 p.m. Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square in Medina (old city) was bustling with people. We picked a random stall, where few guys were grilling meat and ate the first normal meal that day. The variety of food wasn’t very impressive: sausages, grilled beef, chicken or lamb and a few kind of tajines (a dish with vegetables and meat cooked in a special pot over the coal). Our first meal cost 100 dirhams (10 Euros) for two people. Soon we realized that Morocco isn’t that cheap as we expected.
In Morocco, I immediately felt, how I missed developing countries. During all the time here, I had dozens of flashbacks from India and this was the right place to heal my nostalgia. I like all the chaos you can find in this kind of places and that everything is so remote from our culture. Sterile Europe is too boring.
There is a market inside of Medina, crowded with people, some hiding mosques and shops. As we lived next to it, every time we were going somewhere, it was necessary to cross it. Sometimes shopkeepers were insisting to come and look at their stuff. They weren’t as annoying as in India, so most of the times I just silently ignored them. That market reminded me a big maze, because of the narrow streets covered with roof. No need for a map, just follow your inner navigation.
98,9% of the country are muslims. Islam in the region was first introduced in 670 AD during the Islamic conquest of North Africa. The original habitants of Morocco are called berbers. There are 3 main languages: Arabic, Berber and French, so I had a rare opportunity to practise my French, which appeared to be more than basic.
We visited Ben Youssef Madrasa, an Islamic college founded in 14th century and the museum of Marrakech. The Madrasa was my favourite one with small cells for the students, big central yard and impressively decorated walls. It was closed down in 1960 and later opened for the public. I finally lost my virginity in Morocco as it was the first Islamic country I’ve visited. I instantly fell in love with Islamic architecture, all the arches, colours and detailed fretworks.
Two months ago, I watched a movie about French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. And even though I didn’t like the movie very much, it was a good reason to visit Majorelle Garden, which he bought in 1980. When Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008, his ashes were scattered around the place. Blue is the dominant colour here, contrasted with big green cactuses and other plants that are surrounding the house in the middle. A truly magnificent place for reflection and slowing down the tempo in Marrakech.
When we left Lithuania it was -15, Morocco greeted us with +20. Next day we were sweating around the city trying to find a best deal for renting a car. After visiting few companies, we rented one for 25 Euros per day.
Fiat Punto became our new best friend for the next 6 days. I was a bit nervous, because since I have my driving licence, most of the time I was driving cars with automatic gear boxes and Fiat had manual one. When I was trying to get out of Marrakech the traffic was heavy and I was frustrated. The renting company claimed that we don’t need a GPS and it’s very easy to exit the city and travel in Morocco. On the contrary, it wasn’t that simple and we had to stop and ask for directions. Soon we left Marrakech and entered the Atlas mountain region. Viktorija appeared to be the best GPS, she was reading the map and navigating us all around. The road was wriggling through the mountains and I finally realized, what does it really mean ‘Road is endless’.
Text – Karolis Bareckas, photos – Viktorija Samarinaitė.