Exploring Marrakech (Trip: Post 2 of 5)

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(Sevilla –> MARRAKECH –> Sahara Desert –> Sevilla –> Malaga)

Tuesday – Day 125 – Off to Morocco

I once again started my day with a run, we had a few hours to kill to walk around Sevilla, and then we headed to the airport to check-in for our 1 hour flight to Marrakech. We arrived around 6pm and headed to the Fawakay Villas which was located about 20 minutes outside the old city.

The drive from the airport is something I will never forget. It was dusk and turned to pitch black as we drove on these dirt roads. On the left and right we would pass people in mud huts or shanty buildings, just sitting outside. Kids who were 5 or 6 years old were playing in the street in-front of the cars and would just move out of the way last minute. Huge carcasses of meats just hanging outside above the road. We were all just mesmerized by what was in front of us, as it was so foreign to anything we ever saw. Each new turn that we made was another little village of a similar scene. 

Then we kept going and it was just pitch black except for our headlights. Every so often we would see a biker that you didn’t know was there until you were about to hit him or people just walking. Finally, we got into another small village and made a right down an alleyway. People were staring into the cars as we inched our way past. The best way I could describe it was that it felt like we were in a movie set. Ari, who has been to India, said this is exactly what it is like driving around there.

After the alley way, we ended up in a dark field and I started to think…WTF…. Finally, I asked, “Is it near here?” He said, “yup, just to the left.” And before you knew it, we hit a private gate to the Fawakay Villas complex and we were there.

As walked in, we could see the complex was very nice. People were eating and drinking outside as we arrived. We were taken to our rooms. Ari & Lauren were in an eco tent made out of upcycled materials, and we were in a 2 bedroom villa. To be honest, the kids were in shock by what they saw on the drive up and were all just processing it. 

We had drinks at the outside bar with the owner and we learned about the history of his family’s move from the UK to Marrakech and building Fawakay. Before long, we were sitting at dinner being served delicious Morrcon food in Tagines. For me, it was perfect as there were so many vegetable dishes to go around. We were all exhausted and went to bed pretty soon after dinner.

Enjoying dinner in Fawakay Villas after a long day to get there.

Wednesday – Day 126 – Our Tour of the Medina (Christmas Day)

We headed to the Medina to tour the old city of Marrakech, which we were told is a zig zag of vendors and craftsmen, and that you could easily get lost and not be able to find your way out. We opted for a local tour guide to show us not only the main sections of it but the behind the scenes.  As we drove out of the Villas, I was able to see the field we drove into and it was full of plastic, trash, and debris everywhere. I was told that outside the city, no one is really responsible to clean this up so it just sits there.

Once we arrived by the main square, the tour started. We started by walking down side streets to a Museum that had a lot of artifacts, including many Jewish things, as Jews have a rich history in Morocco. From there we headed into the shops of the Medina.

Arriving near the main square of Medina
The Mosque in Medina
Great group photo in the Museum in Medina.

It really is hard to describe it unless you see it. Of course we saw shop after shop, with colors and smells that attacked the senses everywhere. Then, he took us into another section that is closed at night, but during the day is used by the artisans.  Here it was booth after booth, and hundreds of them, each large enough to fit only a few men. In each booth, men were working on their own craft. Making shoes, creating pots, cleaning leather, dying leather, and on and on. I do not have many photos as they asked us not to take any. Again, it felt like a movie set.

Heading into the shops.
The vendors were endless in the Medina
Out tour guide navigating us along.
Entering the Artisan area in the Medina
Jonah helping out one of the artisans in the Medina.

Finally, after many turns, we walked into a Goat hide auction that only happens once a week. It was getting late and the kids were starting to lose it. It was time to get out, but we had a ways to go. Turn after turn we thought we were close to the main square, until finally around 3pm, we arrived. In the main square there were many gypsies and our tour guide said, “just keep walking and ignore them.” There were snake charmers, and guys holding monkeys or snakes to touch. Our guide navigated us to a restaurant with a rooftop terrace to watch the square below us while we ate.

Goat fur auction in one of the corners of the Medina.
View of an empty square on Xmas day in the Medina.

After lunch, we met our drivers to head back to the Villas. Kelli had one more stop in mind. “Can we drive through the new city?” she asked. And within 10 minutes of driving, we were in a major modern city. The driver took us another 5 minutes and we were in a trendy area with all the high-end hotels, bars, and shops.  That certainly gave contrast to what we saw the past two days and put things in perspective. There were two very different ways of living, very close to one another here.

As we were driving down the alley into the Villas, there was a 10 year old girl on her bike, riding in the middle of the street in front of the car, and we had to wait and drive slowly until she was done. There was no mom screaming, “move out of the way!”

Following a girl on a bike to our Villas.

We had a few hours to relax and enjoy the Villas with the owners and several other families before dinner. We hung out on the roof deck and watched the beautiful sunset. We once again ate very well, headed to our rooms, lit the menorah, and went to bed early, knowing we had to wake-up before sunrise for our 9-hour drive to the Sahara desert.

Girls hanging on the roof deck with the eco tents behind them,
It was certainly a contrast staying in nice villas with fields of trash behind us while watching the sun set in Marrakech.