Wednesday, 27 November 2013

6th November, 2013. Songs in Marrakech

I woke up in Marrakech to the sound of a man shouting "Yeeeee!" through the neighbourhood, almost rhythmically. "What is he saying?" "He's asking for money," Daoud smiled. He prepared a breakfast using cookies, olive-oil, bread, some strange delicious seeds and showed me how to make tea.

It was 10 by the time we finished eating and I was eager to explore the city but Daoud reasoned: it was too hot outside to do much during the day. "We'll stay inside, make tajin, then we can go out and see the gardens." So we spent the morning with Daoud and his flatmate Ibaz, learning more Berber songs, wedding customs, desert escapades and finally how to make and eat tajin using only your hands and bread.

After my belly full of food and my head full of new melodies we finally ventured into the heat (in November!). All the while I talked and sung so much with Daoud that my voice disappeared for a good chunk of the bus ride and walk. A water bottle later and I was singing again.

We tried to get to the gardens but by the time we arrived it was closing so we walked through the Medina instead. I kept seeing intricate doorways to mosques that made me stop and curse I hadn't brought my sketchbook, followed by an urge to go in and marvel some more at the artistry. Sadly, some corners of the world will always be closed to a solo female traveller.

Instead of a working mosque, we went to the Koutoubia and sat on the fallen stumps of the old one. At around 7 prayer began.

We walked past peddlers who jogged after us trying to sell us roses, crossed an eight lane road where upon the light turning green, the traffic swarmed their headlights into us so we had to weave our way past the mercy of angry drivers. Once safe and sound at the pedestrian only Jmaa el Fna, I invited Daoud for some tea on a rooftop overlooking the market. I got some great shots of all the hustle and bustle of Marrakech from up there.

When on the grande taxi ride back home Daoud told me: "Everyone thinks you're from here. They talk to you in Arab, not French." I felt strangely flattered. Back at the house, Daoud heated up some water for me again and I greatfully accepted another shower.

On a car ride en route to Canterbury, UK, my grandmother was telling my sister and me about the hardships of Spain in the 1940s. She told us how they washed themselves in basins, using cups and towels, and how they had no toilets. All their necessities had to be done squatting usually in nearby woods or fields. It meant the youth of then had stronger legs than the youth of now. My sister and I found it hilarious and even more when she went on to defend it with doctoral research. This night in a bathroom in Marrakech, standing right next to the squat toilet and pouring heated water from a basin over myself with a cup, I was reminded of her stories. I felt triumphant because 1. I was experiencing something my grandmother often fabled about and 2. it wasn't a hardship at all, just different. In fact, I found it kind of soothing. There was no worry about boilers suddenly deciding it was a good time to throw ice shards at you.

With my pyjamas back on and feeling refreshed Daoud and I talked some more about the crossing of cultures of Al-Andalusi. He told me the arab names of some of the cities in Spain while I told him about my visit to Córdoba and the cultural mix of Valencia, all the while munching on a mint tea leaf.

After a while he asked me if I could play the guitar. "Not really," but I tried anyway until I somehow got "All You Need Is Love" by the Beatles. It was then I found out Daoud had never heard of the Beatles! I taught him the refrain of the song which he learned quickly and sung back to me beaming with delight.

By then it was late and I was exhausted from all the singing and talking and walking. Daoud and I decided tomorrow we would wake up early to do all the touristy things at touristy times before my train ride to Casablanca. Right when I am starting to feel so at home here.

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