This blog is Part 2 of a story written by Friend, Jim Scott.
A Walk through “The Rabbit Hole” to get to our Oasis
Our band of merry men and my wife were now standing at the end of a street in Marrakesh, at dusk, waiting on our “man” to lead us to our accommodations. But he was not there, so now the language barrier with our cabbies led us to wonder (falsely) if we were indeed in the right part of Marrakesh. Although we had a nervous 10 minute wait, our guy did arrive and began to lead us through a maze of back streets, that with each turn seemed to get us a little further from our definition of civilization and further down ‘The Rabbit Hole”. As the conditions of the walled alleyways became worse, with fallen bricks on the ground and the smell of urine lacing the air, we were left to wonder if the smell was created by the couple of assumed homeless people we stepped over or by one of the many feral, gangly cats that welcomed us. After a few more twists and turns, we arrived at a very large wooden door with many locks on it. Apparently, we had arrived.
Center of Courtyard in the Riad in Morocco where the Friends stayed
As we made our way through this large door, we stepped into a lodge like none we had ever stayed in before. To the left was the entrance to a winding stone/ concrete staircase and to the right was the opening to the center of the Riad. The Riad was a 4-story square with the courtyard in the middle that was open air with the four stories giving it natural shade. On the outside of the courtyard was the kitchen, a dining area, and a small wading pool. Northern Africa in July is HOT, so we all spent the afternoons wading in this four- foot deep pool. The bedrooms were on the upper floors that circled the courtyard. All made of two- foot thick walls of concrete with modern fixtures and antique furnishings. They had the modern wall air conditioners, that all worked well, except in our room. It was so hot in there that at night (until they fixed it) we both went to the deck at the top of the Riad to sleep at night, so we could enjoy some air movement.
Mosque Tower that overlooked the Medina
The top of the Riad had unique views. We could see the Mosque tower that overlooked the Medina and where the Call to Prayer chimes went off constantly (It was Ramadan while we were there). In another direction, you could see broken glass strewn across the top walls of the neighbor’s place, with barbed wire. This reminded me of a scene from a Jason Bourne movie. Yet in the other direction was a beautiful home with an expensive deck and furniture. The intermixing of what I assume was poor and rich families within feet of each other was stark.
Roof of neighboring building that looked like scene from Jason Bourne
Our concierge provided us with directions on how to get to the Medina and made sure that our cook came in each day and cooked us traditional Moroccan breakfasts and dinners. All of it was fresh and using the local spices. It was quite the taste experience. Now that we were settled in, it was time to get out and explore Marrakesh’s famous Medina. Hucksters, Snake Charmers and Bruce Willis awaited us.