""Bonjour, it's me, from the hotel" he yelled, as he took his motorbike helmet off and pulled up next to me at the bus stop. "The medina is closed today" he willed me to believe. But (luckily for me), he worked at my hotel and knew some other shops that were open on a Saturday. Ah, some things never change.
The pink and orange-washed walls of the Medina in Marrakech are still as enticing and magical as ever and the place hasn't lost its intrigue in all the years since I last visited Morocco. Neither, it seems, have the scams to lure the uninitiated tourist. I had to stop myself laughing out loud at one eager young man who tried to casually convince me that he was studying in the US and was also just a visitor to Morocco like me! He just "happened" to be going in the direction of the tannery and could help me find the way. Despite the sheer luck and against all the odds of us 'randomly' meeting while I was walking by myself, I chose NOT to take him up on his kind offer.
Behind the fortified walls of the medina (kasbah) lies a maze of laneways, souks and closed timber doorways which hide a hidden world of homes and riads (guesthouses). The main square (Jemaa El Fna) buzzes with locals and tourists and is the kind of place you could sit for hours watching monkeys doing tricks, storytellers, musicians and snake charmers. It doesn't take much convincing though for me to be lured further inside to visit the tucked-away courtyards of the Royal Palace or the myriad of market stalls selling orange blossom oil, leather, silver, the freshest of fruit and meat and of course, those special Moroccan herbs and spices.
Surprise, surprise, the medina WAS open on a Saturday. Just lucky I guess.