Sunday, March 1, 2009

Marrakesh: The Square

Remember when you were in 2nd grade and it snowed for the first time? The excitement and energy in the air as the snow fell gently around you? The main square, Djemma el-Fna, feels just like that except replace the snow flakes with a hoard of people. An intoxicating blend of beggars, snake charmers, monkey handlers, dancers, storytellers, singers, food stalls, pick pocketers, games, con artists, showmen. The sounds, sites and smells contribute to a bazzar, frightening, overwhelming and extremely fun atmosphere.

Surrounded by large circles of 50 plus moroccans, the showmen consist of mostly crazy people doing mediocure feats while demanding extreme compensation if a happless tourist takes a picture. You want 20Dh ($2ish) because you flipped up a shot glass resting on your foot and caught it with your hands? I give the showman 5Dh. He gets the crowd to chant at me trying to get me to instead give 20Dh as he puts my 5 back into my hand. I stick to my guns and keep giving him the 5Dh back. After three rounds of this back & forth and group peer pressure he gives up and settles for my 5Dh. Or wait, was that a 10 Dh piece I just gave him? Damn it!

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