In March 2013 I took a trip to the city of Marrakech, in Morocco. It was a city I had wanted to visit for a very long time, as I love Moroccan architecture and had always fancied doing a bit of bartering in the country’s open-air marketplaces, known as the souks. What I did not bargain for, though, was what this trip had in store for me; much more than bargains from souks and an admiration of old buildings.
After an uneventful flight into Marrakech, and a slow, but organised, passage through passport control, I eventually arrived at my accommodation, which was a traditional Middle Eastern Riad house. This was my first experience of stepping into this completely new world. My taxi driver pulled up in a back street, let me out of the car, and then proceeded to take me down a narrow alleyway that appeared to lead only to a brown door sporting numerous studs all over it. There was no way out except to come back the way we had come. I felt like I was Alice in my own wonderland; stepping in through a small door and entering this totally different world. The taxi driver knocked on the door for me and a lady, who was also a visitor from England, opened it and let me in. The taxi driver said goodbye and I followed the lady inside. We walked along a tiled corridor for a few yards until we reached the end and it opened into a large courtyard with a tiled floor. It struck me as odd as there was no roof, a sight I was not used to. I was shown around the rest of the house, where painted blue doors separated the rooms from the landing and archways hid other treasures waiting to be explored. It was my own Aladdin’s cave and already I could sense I was going to experience something very different from anything I had done before; I was utterly enchanted.
The following day I decided to go and explore what Marrakech had to offer an intrepid traveller such as myself. I walked back through the brown door with the studs on it, up the narrow alleyway, and right on to the open main street. The first thing that hit me were all the various smells from the market place just a short distance away. Pungent smells offering a mix of spices and dirty drains. Further along the market place there were chickens in baskets, large haunches of meat hanging up, and fruit stalls piled high with oranges.
Everywhere I explored in and around Morocco made me feel I had stepped right into a film set, as I encountered horses and carts bouncing along the road, people in traditional dress, and goat herders that one could believe had come from the biblical age. My visit to Morocco was certainly a place full of wonder providing a feast for all the senses, as well as the imagination.