Spicing It up in the Souks
All the way at the top of North Africa, near the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Marrakech marketplace explodes with organized chaos.
That was the description a friend and I decided on — organized chaos.
For years I’ve had Marrakech on the top of my travel list. I would scan through internet searches, absorbed by the rainbow of colors, the eccentric detail in architecture, tiles swirling in diamonds and circles and flowers, and the solid carved stone also looping, turning in unexpected directions.
Although souks, small shops and stands, exist all across Morocco, Marrakech is known for having the largest marketplace in the country. Moroccans must love mazes.
You could get lost in it. Well, actually, you should get lost in it. My boyfriend and I hired a tour guide, which I highly recommend, as it’s the best way to introduce yourself to the history and culture of the city, but once you get a feel for the flow of the marketplace, something starts calling you to weave and explore the exotic maze on your own.
Prepare yourself for a sensory overload — so many spices, the smells are hard to distinguish, snake charmers, dancers and musicians all packed together down the tiny ancient streets lined with souks. Each shop with its own personality, baiting customers inside with stacked cages filled with turtles and iguanas!
At one shop I stooped down to get a better look at some baby chameleons and before I knew it the shop keeper had placed one in my hand and was ushering us into his shop, attempting to sell us all of his items. Moroccans are great at sales and fun to barter with, but also extremely welcoming. One man who owned a spice shop insisted on concocting a special potion for my boyfriend when he told him he had a stomach ache. The man genuinely cared about his health and asked for nothing in return.
After leaving the souks, I walked away with some scarfs, plenty of spices and a lamp for a Moroccan inspired room I’m designing for my new home. After living in that fast paced rhythm for even a couple of days, it’s hard to leave with out wanting to take the style and beautiful intricacy back with you.