Adil cut a strikingly handsome figure in his very smart crème and gold Jalaba. Julie intrepid owner of Venus Adventures looked like a kiwi adventurer – tanned smiling and relaxed. They found me at the airport in the middle of my replying to their “where r u” text. Australian Sue was also gathered up and we were whisked through the streets of Marrakech to Adil’s family Riad – their home with its tiled walls and interior courtyard complete with palm tree.
What a fantastic first stop to share some genuine Moroccan hospitality in their home. They did not join us as it is Ramadan, so no eating or drinking for them during daylight hours. We had been travelling since the early hours of the morning, so the breakfast of msmon (delicious savory pancakes) olives, fresh flat bread and honey, croissants and sweet mint tea were very welcome. We were in heaven – I could see this was going to be a great trip.
Adil had found us an apartment – It was spacious with rooms opening onto its central courtyard – ensuring a cooling breeze as you sleep and if you are too hot, there is the a private rooftop area for sitting or sleeping in the breeze, and a perfect place for an early evening drink before heading out for dinner.
We were just a 10 minute walk from the main square – Place Jemaa El Fna. Julie helped us to orient ourselves – the towering minaret of La Koutoubia was our landmark, and she led us into the mad, bustling world of the Souks, teaching us to say la (no) or ensha’llaah (God willing – or maybe later).
Marrakech is frantic, colourful, rich and red – a bustling metropolis where donkeys, motorbikes, pedestrians and taxis appear to drive recklesslly, but with some underlying pattern that only they know, which mostly ensures they get where they want to go safely.
Alongside this there is the welcome – Salam Lehkum – peace upon you and sweet mint tea by which you are invited to sit awhile and share the day.