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Djemaa el-Fna: Marrakesh Main Square at Night

When the sun goes down in Marrakesh, you should make your way slowly to the main square.

During the day it’s choc-a-block full of women and men: snake charmers, fruit sellers, shoe polishers. I’ll get back to that soon I promise.

But in the night time, things become more magical in Marrakesh.

Or at least the night scenes make it easier to fulfil our fantasies of far-foreign lands.




The three of us- Andy and I, and our new travelling companion Guillermo, headed through the winding  streets to Djemma el-Fna.
And got caught on the way by a very convincing hat saleswoman.
“Two hats!” she declared “For just 8 euros”.
Already drawing the hatlessness of my head into the bargain when only Andy had fingered the things. Already keenly aware that our bargaining skills were negligible. Non-existent.

And of course, when we gave her the 10 euro note (100 dirham), she was surprised and dismayed that she could not find any change.

“Three hats for 10?”

What can you do?
We were willingly conned.
An oxymoron, that is not at all oxymoronic in Morocco.

Good thing we had Guillermo:

(He didn’t buy this one- but the other photos was even worse quality- sorry!)

When we got to the square, the change from the day-time bustle- into an even busier and fuller kind of affair, was startling. And the place was lit up.

Presumably as it has been, for the last 1000 years. 


Argan oil products- for hair and skin. Don’t pay over a euro or two for the standard stuff!

It took us a while to work out what was causing all the steam rising off the many newly-arrived carts.



Snails! In a herby broth. 50 cents a bowl.

Andy swears they’re better than any he had in Paris!





This kid just looks totally like a baby bird after his snails

It wasn’t the only source of nutrients. There were so many fresh juice stores, and so much competition between them for the sale, that we felt bad going all to one booth, and ended up splitting up.


But far, far more impressive, is the massive steaming cube that has formed in the centre of the square.
Let’s take a step back shall we?
We did a couple of laps- there are so many different places- but they all seem to have fairly comparable menus and prices. Which are not exceptionally cheap, but still not expensive by european standards. Still- clearly aimed at tourists.
So how do they get you to their particular tent?
“Hi, good evening- where you from?”
Not ‘how are you’- too easy to say ‘fine’ and keep walking. But you don’t want to be rude. And especially not when your thinking of your nationality, and foreign representation.
The response is instantaneous, and nearly identical across all Moroccans we met.
“Kangaroo! Sydney!”
But some of them knew more. One of them referenced an Australian TV comedy (Chris Lilley), that seemed so obscure that we had to rack our brains to connect to our own culture.



On top of that, and the fairly perpetual shouts of ‘Ali Baba!’ aimed at Guillermo (or more accurately, his beard), they had rhymes.

Each tent had a number- as practically the only distinguishing feature.

“Whereareyoufrom-kangaroosydney!… one-one-seven-STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN’

Which, I don’t know, is that even a good thing when you think about the effect you want your food to have on you?

When we asked a man from a different number tent, how his food could possibly better than that at 117 (where you go straight to heaven!) he even had a rebutting rhyme:
‘one-one-seven. Back to Devon’

It needed explanation: ‘you know, like in England. You don’t want to go there’.

Obscure right?

Can you tell that by this point of the Moroccan journey we were much more comfortable with our roles as ‘rich tourists’?

In the end we chose a stall- deciding to eat in the main square itself because of the high tourists numbers, and high flux of food (which was clearly being freshly cooked). These two factors make food poisoning unlikely in my books.


Hmm skewer meat!.

We ended up ordering three times what we wanted to, I suspect more due to a clever move on their part than true miscommunication.

In the end though, it wasn’t an overabundance of food, even with the snails already squirming in our stomachs.




We even had room for sweets (although they were all a little unimpressive).

And then wandered the square a bit more.

The experience is less about dining, and more about ‘dinner, a show, and maybe a bit of sport or fun to round it all off’.


I’m not sure what’s going on here.


This man has some sort of box with a ‘trigger’, which is basically a strength/manliness test.
Fishing for soft-drinks.
The full catastrophe!

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