Dale Says

November 8, 2010

Lost in Marrakech!

Filed under: Travel — Dale @ 2:06 pm

Our Lonely Planet guidebook suggested that when we arrived in Marrakech we would have the distinct feeling we had left something behind – which would be predictability and all sense of direction. Truer words were never written.

During most of our first day in Marrakech we had been accompanied by a guide, who led us through the labyrinth of narrow streets, souqs (shops), and museums; and we had relished the unique nature and bizarre attractions of this fabled city. We photographed snake charmers and acrobats, negotiated with vendors of leather goods and souvenirs, and grew confident that we could find our way on our own.

So we said goodbye to our guide and went back to the main square for orange juice and a few more photos. Then we headed back into the Medina (old walled city) for a shower and a quiet meal at our guesthouse. That’s when it got interesting…

It was shortly after sunset when we first walked through one of the 10 gates (babs) into the Medina. We immediately left behind all sense of orderliness and entered a complex of streets, courtyards, alleyways and cul-de-sacs crammed with mopeds, street vendors, donkeys, and throngs of people.

After several minutes we realized we were heading in the wrong direction, so we stopped to look at our map. It was one of those city maps you get when you c heck into a hotel. It had the major streets, tourist attractions, and an X drawn where our guesthouse was located. We didn’t have the exact address or phone number of the hotel.

After a few more minutes, nothing was looking familiar, so we stopped at a hotel and asked for help. The clerk was friendly, but she wasn’t familiar with our guesthouse and couldn’t find a phone number for them. So we decided to cut our losses and return to the main square.

After further studying our map, we entered another gate into the Medina and began our search again. And again, we became entangled in the maze of alleyways and shops. This time we asked a shop owner for help, and he sent us down another crowded narrow street in what turned out to be the completely wrong direction. After several more minutes of wandering, we realized we were hopelessly lost, and we returned to the main square.

This time we asked for help from an orange juice vendor who sent us back into the Medina through yet a third gate. By now it was pitch dark, getting late, and we were becoming anxious. So we walked faster and after several minutes, we realized we were again hopelessly lost.

This time we asked help from a neatly-dressed man sitting outside a shop. He studied our map, discussed oour plight (in Arabic) with a couple of his friends, and off we went – following him through another maze of narrow streets. After a few minutes, he met a friend, who joined us. For the next several minutes (which seemed like forever), the two men walked and talked, while we followed behind, and the streets became less crowded, darker, and we began to wonder whether they were leading us to a friend’s carpet shop, a blind alley to rob us, or to our guesthouse.

Much, much later (it seemed) we arrived at the doorstep of our guesthouse. We were incredibly relieved and heartily thanked our rescuers, who accepted our tip and offered us taxi service for the next day. We shook hands, thanked them again, and entered the sanctuary of our guesthouse. Marrakech had wielded its power on us and, thanks to the kindness of strangers, we had survived!

25 Comments »

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