Western Kingdom and the Land of God
Beautiful country in the northwest of the African continent attracts more and more tourist attention, and also in Serbia , people are getting more and more interested for Morocco-its culture, its customs, traditions, literature, architecture, and also, stunning nature-from Sahara and the mountain Atlas to the coast of Atlantic.
Moroccan king Mohammed VI, who is very much liked in his country, is very tourist-oriented and open to receive tourist from all over the world. If you know that you are welcome somewhere and you really feel that way, experience you have on that place is fantastic, and therefore, you become an “ambassador” and you spread good words about that country everywhere.
Moroccans originate from ancient and slightly mystic tribe of Berbers, who are colonized and assimilated with Arabs. They are cheerful and optimistic people, passionate and intensive in everything they do. You can learn from them, that, no matter how they live, what challenges they have before them, they love life and they emphasize and celebrate it with intensity and colorfulness.
In spite of strong French influence from colonial period, Morocco has preserved the spirit of the Orient, its authenticity and recognizable charm. Country that is really worth of visit, and deserves to be visited again, because you can’t absorb everything at once, especially because of the intensity already mentioned.
Marrakesh is famous for its gardens, although it is a city in the middle of the stone desert, specifically red colors, just like the Atlas Mountain. The city itself is called Red city, because of the facades of the houses in that color. Since red is my favorite color, that is why I probably blended so well in the surroundings, although I do not look at all like Arab or Berber woman. And where do they get the water for the gardens? It is absolutely fantastic that they use the water from Atlas Mountain, more than 30 km away, which is delivered into the city through the underground tunnels. Actually, it is absolutely amazing fact that this irrigation system was built centuries ago. Menara is the garden rich with orchards and olive trees; it is the greatest, but not the most impressive. Its name means “lighthouse”. You will notice that the route of this word is also in the word minaret, even the meaning is similar-from minarets, words and advices of religious magistrates pour over Muslim believers, like the light from the lighthouse.
La Jardin Majorrelle-why Yves Saint-Laurent called this place his second home?
When Morocco was set free of French protectorate, it became very popular, and also very cheap place for living and it attracted French elite and jet-set. One French magazine called him another Saint-Tropez. One of the members of French “crème da la crème society”, was also famous fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent, who bought very cheaply beautiful old garden, full of various plants, especially cactuses, and made his home in the villa which he painted in specific intensive blue color, which looks exactly the same even today. In this fantastic
garden in Marrakesh he stayed for the rest of his life, and this is nowadays one of the most photogenic locations in the city and the place where tourist often come, to rest and relax after rushing all over the city and sightseeing.
Souk-why bargaining is something that pays-off?
“Not all who wander are lost.”
No matter how much you try to memorize all paths, you will surely get lost somewhere in souks of Marrakesh, enjoying watching and buying souvenirs and interesting products of Moroccan craftsman-leather, scarves, jewelry, spices, soaps, teas… Bargaining is unavoidable and without it, don’t even try to by something-the real price is usually only one third of what the seller tells you at first. Have fun trying to outsmart them and be sure that if you stay persistent and keep to your price, the seller will run after you and you will get desired product at the price which suits you.
Jemaa El Fnaa-market or circus?
The greatest market in Northern Africa is during the day just one hot plateau, heated by African sun, but in the evening and night in turns into the center of everything. Street food sellers with their easy- folding temporary counters, musicians of all kinds, acrobats, snake charmers, monkey tamers, chiromancers and women who do canna tattooing, all of them create an atmosphere that looks exactly like the real circus. Intensive sounds, colors, smells and flavors make you feel dizzy long afterwards and completely overwhelmed. Everything is over-emphasized, but that is exactly what makes this square the heart of Marrakesh, which pulsates in the rhythm of passionate people who live here.
I have always been dreaming of symbolism of the ritual of canna tattooing, when the girl is getting prepared for the wedding and painting all those beautiful ornaments on fingers and hands. My wish came true right here and I have been watching patiently how the real work of art is being created on my right arm, while the face of the artist who created it remained hidden behind the veil which they wear here according to religious rules. The tattoo lasted about ten days after I came back from Morocco, but the memory of this unusual ritual remained forever.
Palaces and riads-1001 night stories
Palaces in Marrakesh where rulers lived, and not only them, and also numerous riads-specific guest houses-now hotels, are absolutely enchanting with their imaginative interiors, as if you are in the middle of the fairy tale. Colorful facets, ornaments and mosaics on the floors, walls, windows, almost everywhere you look, and in all that richness of colors you will recognize beauty and harmony. Riads are buildings with windows that look into the courtyard, and in the middle of it there is usually a basin or the fountain, as well as the garden. In Medina, old fortified city, almost all buildings are of this type and because of their beauty and attractiveness, they are interesting to tourists, as well as numerous roof terraces on which you can sit and enjoy in the spicy, yet delicious Moroccan food and teas.
Moroccan tea and tajine
Moroccan mint tea is very famous, it is consumed in huge quantities and it is always sweetened. Traditional drink that you have to try, especially when you realize how much it will refresh you and increase your energy. Their well-known dish is tajine-with vegetables, meat, spices-it takes long time to prepare it, cooked on low temperature and it is served in earthenware jars. In Morocco, the food is consumed only with the right hand, everything else is considered very improper.
Essaouira-Mogador-city that inspires artists
When you wish to cool down from the heat of souk, not only form the heat that comes from well warmed stones, but from the excitement of bargaining, and the tumult from the Jemaa el-Fnaa square, you should head west toward Atlantic Ocean to the magic city of Essaouira. Maybe the name sounds familiar to you, because some episodes of the famous TV series “Game of thrones” are shooted in this city, but if you ever get there and feel as if you have travelled several centuries back in the past, you will wish to revive that feeling again. Essaouira is an inspiration to film, music and other artists. Maybe those of you who are a little bit older will be reminded of the first version of the movie Othello, by Orson Welles, and also, of the movie “Tea in Sahara”, made on the basis of the true story, by Bernardo Bertolucci, while Jimmy Hendrix created his song “Sand towers”, on this exact place.
Why is argan oil the best, but also the most expensive?
On the road from the Marrakesh to Essaouira you will be struck by the strange sight. On the low trees of argan, on almost every stronger branch, there is one-goat. And you will wonder what on earth goats are doing on the trees and how did they get there? Now it has already became tourist attraction and popular place to take photographs, with this nice animals, who never dreamed of becoming so famous, simply by being led by their instinct to look for delicious food in form of argan tree fruit. It is widely known and experts also confirm it, that the best quality oil, for cosmetic purposes, is made by hand from argan stone. You get the stones with the help of these very goats, who eat the fruit, then spit the stones, which are then collected and in small number of manufactures, manually treated. That is the reason that this oil is so expensive. But my hair also confirms its quality.
Blue fishermen boats diligently supply with fresh fish and sea food every morning, which is then prepared as the most delicious specialties, that you have not tried yet ( neither did I , since I am a vegetarian, but by the look on the faces of my travel companions and other people in the restaurant I was sure that it is so). Walking by the wind-swept shore (or the kilometers’ long shallow), and listening to the wind and the cries of the seagulls, is meditation in itself, which purifies your thoughts. For those who are braver and in the mood for the adventure, kite and wind surfing is great choice. This region is famous for it.
Essaouira city core is famous place, where different craftsman and artists show and sell their creative work, while in the background, you can hear modern Moroccan music and hits from the Essaouira music festival, which is also called Moroccan Woodstock. It is enjoyable to edge through the narrow streets and among famous “morocco blue” doors, finds some which are painted green, yellow or red instead. Sometimes, you can even catch some impish, broad children smile behind some of those doors.
Ouzoud waterfalls-amazing force of nature
Couple of hours of drive from Marrakesh there are the biggest waterfalls in Northern Africa, over 100 m high, which precipitate into the valley and make the little lake and the river, making astonishing sound like water mill (which is also the meaning of their name). It is worth to bath in this water and cool down from 45 degrees to only 10. Very often you can spot the rainbow. They say that the wishes come true when you walk under the rainbow and the waterfall too. We have tried, so it remains to be seen. At the bottom of the waterfall, we have made friends with monkeys, who gladly took snacks from our hands, and they didn’t even hesitate to climb on our backs and heads.
The visit to Morocco will definitely change you, because it will teach you how to add strong colors to your life of to heighten those which already exist. Because only when you live with your whole heart your know that you have truly lived.