As a child I read a lot, which led to a lot of day-dreams, the most exciting of which was of an exotic Moroccan Adventure. I dreamt of souks with huge clay pots (large enough for a genie of course) and riding a camel to an oasis with palm trees in the Sahara.
Fast forward fifty years and we’re leaving Marrakech’s Menara Airport with our taxi’s windows firmly down in a vain attempt to catch a breeze in the 40 degree heat. We’d pre-arranged the pick-up to our Riad in Derb Al Qadi in the Azbest Quarter. The first surprise was our driver abandoning the cab to ask directions at what we assumed was the taxi depot. Eventually he returned and we continued on our way, stopping in a square – Ben Saleh Square. The next surprise was watching our luggage being offloaded into an old wooden cart, by a man of the same vintage. We’re motioned to follow and we’re off at a surprisingly sprightly speed. My exact words to Marty were – Don’t lose that cart. We were going where the taxi could not.
We left a chaotic mix of motorbikes, children, sheep, covered women, and vendors squatting with a few bunches of vegetables on the edge of the madness. A hysterical laugh may have left my lips…
In our derb everything was different – it was practically deserted for starters – our little man picked up the pace and we trotted left through a mini-square crowded with young boys playing soccer with World Cup intensity. More right, left, right corners led through a dark tunnel with a well positioned light, right to a dead end. The door swung open and we stepped inside…
With the porter paid we floated beneath the Mousharabi skylight up to our room, the Doueria. I peeked into the bathroom at a Cleopatra style tadelakt bathtub then down through the Mousharabi screens of our room to the courtyard. This was the first and only time I’ve had a calming tea from an exotic tall beaten silver pot with the long curving spout and handle.
The Riad had an air of Moroccan authenticity and a well-worn casual feel. Our arrival was an adventure in itself and I couldn’t wait to see if the rest of the trip lived up to my childhood day-dreams. For now a warm welcome, refreshing shower and that comforting home away from home feeling was enough.
Our Moroccan adventure had begun.
Riad Maizie, 95 Derb al Cadi, Azbezt
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