Learning the Hustle in Marrakesh

For many years I have longed to go to Morocco.  I had planned to go a few times before and each time something happened that prevented me from going.  Though learning how to trust in the timing of life is one of my biggest goals and concentrations- so certainly it makes sense that it has been a journey to go on a journey to Morocco.  This time, I was bringing along my 67 year old mother.  Now let me tell you this is no ordinary 67 year young woman.  She is absolutely fabulous.  A fit blonde who is ever stylish with energy for days.  Yep.  Me and my cute little mom on an journey to Morocco.  I wanted to ensure we had a full experience so we coupled Morocco with Portugal.  I mean in the grand scheme of things they’re right next door.  It would be a miss not to indulge in one more country while in the neighborhood.

So, off we flew to Lisbon where we spent two lovely days and nights before off on our trip to Morocco.  First up, Casablanca which thankfully was merely a 7 hour layover- offering more than ample time to take a peek at the madness that is Casa.  (As the locals call it)  That evening, we were off again.  This time to Marrakech (As the French spell it).  Arriving at night, was probably not the most ideal scenario.  For one, taxi’s are always there to be negotiated with.  However, at night they request bigger fares for the same route…simply because they can.  Our driver was very sweet and drove us into the medina where our Riad was located.  Unfortunately, the alleyways which most riads are located are down small corridors where cars are unable to drive-(This is saying a lot for the already insane driving that you experience with Morocco)  So, our driver dropped us and our bags off at the corner where he thought our riad would be, on this small street.  Instantly, we were greeted by a highly boozed up man who claimed he worked this alley to help people find their riad, and all at no cost to us. (Free! Hmmmm.)  We tried numerous times to let him know we were all set and didn’t need his alleged services.  Clearly we needed guidance, as it can be beyond confusing trying to find what alleyway, yet alone which doorway is yours.  Nonetheless,  we were not looking for him to take us there.  Regardless, he led us down a very dark corridor to our riad where I started ringing the doorbell with reckless abandon in hopes they would come and Save Us!  I ran into the riad and the owner kindly escorted this drunken hustler away.  Regardless of being safe and sound in our new home for the next two nights, we were a tad freaked out.  Just arriving in a very new country and significant change in culture had left us feeling a bit frazzled.  We decided to enjoy the Riad’s rooftop and hit the hay early that night as an entire day of adventure awaited us the very next day.

It began with a french breakfast- nothing here for me not to love.  Followed by having to hunt down a cab and head to our appointment at Les Bains de Marrakech.  My very first time at a Houmam.  Lets just say I hope it’s not my last.  It was heavenly.  They wash you down with black soap.  Followed by one of the most intense scrubs I’ve experienced to date.  And lastly a mask painted onto your body for you to then lie inside the intense sauna heat and bake, baby, bake.  Then it was onto a shower, some poolside relaxation then off to an hour long massage.  All for the incredible price of around 60 euro’s.  Oui, Oui, S’il Vous Plait!!

Clearly after all of this relaxation, we were in need of some amazing Moroccan cuisine.  Rooftop, with views of the city and the sounds of call to prayer.  The call to prayer is something I’ve not experienced before.  So captivating.  So unique.  Sent chills down my spine each and every time.

We managed, as we always do to fit some market shopping in before rushing off to the new YSL museum.  We had hoped to tour the Majorelle gardens as well, though time didn’t allow for all of it.  Regardless, the museum was an intimate showcase of timeless YSL designs and couture.

No trip to Morocco would be complete without a trip to the desert.  On a camel, of course.  This, although super touristic, was such a special treat for my mom and I to enjoy together.  Sure we were dressed in the traditional garb and took endless photo’s of us on our new found transportation.  It was certainly memorable.

The night finished off in a traditional fashion- by taking in the sights and sounds of the souks.  It’s more than I could have even imagined.  Stimulation from every side.  Every where you looked- someone was hustling to get you into eat at their food stand, to take a picture with their chain linked monkey, to paying for a band whose singer has a goat on his head.  You can’t make this shit up!  It was intense.  Every where you looked, you were either fending off someone attempting to sell you something or making sure your purse was still attached.  Everyone claiming to be offering you something for “no money!”  Oddly enough then they most all request 60 euros.  For just about anything.  So, after endless No’s and trying to keep moving in the souks, clearly it was time for a drink.  We were spent.  Mentally.  So on to dinner we quickly escorted ourselves to a second floor restaurant within the heart of the souk.  And the traditions didn’t stop there.  We sat with live music, belly and candelabra donned dancers while taking in all the flavors of Morocco.  Following dinner, we felt more relaxed having finished off a bottle of wine. We were now officially ready to take on the madness of the market.  Or so I thought.

Just moments later, as we were onto shop around a lantern stall, a woman comes up and starts drawing henna all over my hand.  And I do mean ALL OVER.  My hand, my wrist and every single finger now covered in henna.  In just the blink of an eye.  In fact it happened so quickly i didn’t have time to respond and actually pull my hand away from what had quickly become her canvas.  As lovely as it looked- it was not something I wanted.  Especially since in just 3 days I’d be back to the corporate world in the US where Henna painted all over ones hand isn’t necessarily the corporate look my company is looking for. Not to mention, she was now trying to hustle me for…can you guess?  Yep, you guessed it 60 euros.

After this experience, I was officially over the hustle and bustle of the souks, so we decided to pack up our finds and call it a night.  If only we still had our handy dandy and ever loyal camels to carry us back home, our night would have been ever complete.   Nonetheless, we had the chance to experience Morocco in all it’s madness, mayhem, delight and wonder.   I hope to return some day- fully armed and ready to Do the Hustle.  Until next time, Marrakesh.

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Francine

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