Monday, 20 May 2013

The Crazy Square: Jamaa el Fnaa

Growing up in Thailand I have seen a lot of crazy things in my time, not a lot of places overwhelm me. I've seen things no 16 year olds should ever see when they are at a full moon party. When I visited Jamaa El Fnaa (loosely translated as: The assembly at the end of the World), the biggest market in Morocco (Marrakech); not only was I overwhelmed but I was in constant fear someone would throw a snake at me. I couldn't walk fast enough and looking behind my back every 2 seconds to check gave me a lot of stress.  A meerkat surveillance system needs to be put in place amongst your friends I figured.

There is no such thing as personal space here, everyone is in your face. All the time. Think Leicester Square on steriods. They don't call this place the end of the world for nothing.

Still quite early on in the day

We got out of the car and cut across the square to go to a cafe terrace that over looks the craziness below. That short walk scared me to death but I felt safe up there with my coffee and camera. Maybe I have lived in London for too long.

Back in the day this market square was where people would come out in the evening for entertainment. Nowadays we go to cinemas, clubs or restaurants but back then in Morocco people go out to see the snake charmers, dancers, Berber music bands playing and so on.

Neha feeling safe up on the terrace

Snake charmers performing

By night when the real action begins

After admiring the scene from a safe terrace it was time to brave the real world again. It was 6pm and the food stalls had just started popping up. Food was my motivation. But unlike food stalls in Thailand where I have difficulty choosing what to eat because everything is amazing, it is quite the opposite here. Every stall I passed I am glad I have a strong gag reflex. No, I do not wish to eat sheep's brains thank you. Or snail soup, or spleen or heart or an entire goat's head. 

Sheep brain anyone? The guy on the right seems to be tucking in
Snail soup man

Chefs at work

Matching Brazillian Haviainas 

The famous Moroccan orange juice stands
After having walked the entire square we head into the souk that is adjacent. A sigh of relief as I step in, now I can relax. The small winding passages around the city is so calming and beautiful. There are small doors and passageways hidden in every corner, if you are not paying attention it would be easy to lose your way. A lot of riads are located here. Don't be fooled by a small wooden door, because once you open it and enter, what awaits you inside is a beautiful garden and boutique hotels/riads you wouldn't imagine could exist there. Like a hidden gem. And this for me is the real beauty of Marrakech. The intertwining narrow streets just waiting to be discovered. 

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