Day 72

10. July 2000, Rest Day in Marrakech

There are many aspects making Marrakech worthwhile seeing. The most important is the unique atmosphere of an oriental city with a large bazaar and busy life. People are wearing their traditional clothes, behave in their traditional ways and keep their houses in traditional style without paying much regard to the latest European fashions. Moroccans are very skilled artists and many of their goods, houses, even their food is embellished marvelously. So we can only recommend a visit to Marrakech for shopping, dining and breathing in the different atmosphere - just outside Europe.
But two stories have to be told. When we took a taxi from our hotel to the souk, the taxi-driver started to talk about how foreigners get pestered by people trying to sell stuff or "guides" offering their service in the souk. To avoid that problem, he said we should get a good guide. We politely said "no" as we had no interest in good guides or bad guides. He still brought us to a back entrance of the souk where a guide was already awaiting us and would not let go of us. So we went back out of the souk and left when suddenly the taxi driver came running after us, asking if there was a problem and telling us we were going the wrong way. This was probably not out of human concern, but the driver normally takes money from the guide, while the guide normally takes money from the shops where tourists buy at and from the tourists themselves, of course. We just left these people and when we reentered the souk from another entrance, another guide approached us, but we totally ignored him, not speaking a single word to him or even looking at him. He could not be sure that we understood him at all so after a few minutes he let go. In the souk itself we were not really pestered again, just the usual "come and see my shop".
While the first story made the afternoon more interesting, the second is actually more tragic. For dinner, we were invited by the hotel where we must have caught some bacterial infection. We were careless and ate some salad, always a bad idea in these countries. Anyway, Team Busch had to struggle the next days with Kaya being hit the worst with high fever.

Overall 1 hour 47 minutes penalty

The official results can be looked up on this website

Out of the hotel, into the street.

But most streets look like this, with lots of small motorcycles. These bikes also happen to drive in the smallest streets with many people at reckless speeds.

Most of the souk is covered. Although in some places, the bazaar has become a tourist trap, it is still very authentic and fully functional, selling mostly to Moroccans all kinds of goods which tourists would not buy anyway. Those goods on offer for tourists (carpets, pottery, textiles metalwork, woodwork, paintings) are actually quite nice and seem to be reasonable quality.

On that same place they also have many small street restaurants - everyone dressed in white is a cook. If you want to try them out, remember that white does not kill the bacteria.



Some of the streets in Marrakech are quite narrow

Inside the old city is the souk or bazaar, where people from all over the area come to buy and sell their goods.

The big place in front of the souk could be described as the centre of Marrakech. Here they have belly-dancers, snake-charmers, beggars, trained monkeys, chameleons (dry and fresh) and tortoises for sale, wise old men sitting around - just like you would expect in a romanticized view of an oriental city.