by Darragh Field
I visited Marrakesh in 2010, staying in a Riad inside the maze of the old city. Once inside the city walls, the cars give way to pack animals and porters carting merchants goods to and from the Souks. This is a city of traders and touts, they take a stab at your nationality as you walk by, despite being Irish, I look English or German to Moroccan eyes and they greet me as such in bids to get me into their stores.
The souk is one enormous organic winding Aladdin's cave, shop fronts are covered in ornate and beautiful lanterns, mosaic arches and filigree embossed doorways. The city is made up of layers and at the surface there are the same tourist traps you get anywhere but on the back streets there are alchelmists selling love potions and curses, terrifying dentist stalls, butchers with camels heads as their shop signs. Its a noisy, busy maze and the locals buzz by you, jostling you as they get about their day. You will get lost but that is part of the charm of the place.
As the day closes the shops disappear and what once was a busy shop-filled street becomes empty and totally unrecognisable. Kids will hassle you for money in exchange for directions which is ingenious if a tad opportunistic. The main square at night is the place to eat and watch street entertainers. I found a circle of men and teenagers with one boxer in the middle and one by one the men tried and failed to beat the boxer for prize money. They shouted instructions to the challengers as each one in turn was knocked to the ground by the polished hands of the boxer. Around the square there were fire breathers, water sellers twirling the tassels on their hats and hustlers flogging their wares.
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