Common Terms Explained
There's a bevy of strange words used when people refer to things in Morocco. These words often have an English equivalent and why those aren't used instead, I have no idea. Maybe pretentious people have preferred to use the exotic substitute so long it's become the norm? Listed below are some of the most common of these words and their English equivalent:
Rhiad: An inn, bed and breakfast, or hotel.
Souk: A market.
Hammam: A body massage.
Medina: The old town.
Tangine: A stew.
Petit Taxi: A taxi that's a hatchback.
Grand Taxi: A taxi that's a regular-sized car.
Jma El Fna/Djemma el'Fna/Jmaa el Fna: The name of the central square in Marrakesh. (Nobody knows how to spell this correctly.)
Minaret: A mosque's tower.
Berber: Indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile.
My first view of Marrakesh was at night, driving from the airport to my hotel.
I love arriving in a new place at night, when everywhere is lit up.
My first memories were of the Koutoubia Mosque, illuminated against the night sky, plus the many fountains we passed at the intersections of Ave Mohammed V.
This fountain was opposite the Koutoubia Mosque, near one of the roads leading to Djemma el Fnaa. If visiting in Winter, you'll need to wrap up warmly if admiring the night time views!
Where Marrakesh comes to life by night
If you want to eat cheap, authentic, and beneath the stars, the food stalls are the way to go. However, how you decide on which one to partake of is up to you, there are SO MANY and they're all oh so friendly as they try and persuade you to have a seat at their little eatery. We chose one that was extremely crowded as we assumed this was a good sign.
They squeezed us in on one of the long, skinny tables with bench seating between two other dining parties. Then asked us what we'd like in French, and when I say they, I mean multiple people, all surrounding us apparently dying to take our order. ;-) Unfortunately my vision is not as good as I'd like and I was having a difficult time reading the posted menu, perhaps the delicious smoke pouring forth from the grills added to my inability. I simply said "poulet, poisson, legumes, salade?" And within SECONDS they were bringing us a thousand little dishes of Moroccan salads, couscous, bread, dips for the bread, etc. etc. And shortly thereafter that, skewers of chicken and fish and beef (for Tim). The food just kept coming.
The people sitting next to us finished eating and we watched them negotiate their bill (yes, bargaining here too) and then a nice lone French guy sat in their place and we watched him get greeted/affronted by a swarm of waiters. ;-)
It was A LOT of fun, chaos and good food in the most unique atmosphere ever. Kind of felt like a picnic with a bunch of strangers. I love love love all the little salads and bread and dips they give you!
Snake Charmers have usually been associated with India but Morocco’s Medina’s certainly have their fair share willing to entertain the tourists – at a price of course. While the performer sits crossed legged on his mat, flute in hand, the Cobra emerges groggily from a darkened basket and appears to sway to the music. Actually snakes can’t hear the music and they are really moving to the flute moving backwards and forwards. Nevertheless, even knowing this, you still stand there mesmerised until they ask for money for photos and it brings you back to reality.
The focal point of Marrakesh is Djemaa el-Fna square, without it According to Paul Bowles"Marrakesh would be just another Moroccan city".
SAD AS IT BE
The scams combination of hustlers and heavy-sell are a real downer for first time visitors. Try to be polite, cool and firm and move from the Annoyance, the experience can be traumatic and wanting to get on the first plane out. If you a Traveler you love it, if a tourist maybe not beware.
Carpets & Rugs. the ever-lasting words evoke the total experience of
Marrakesh / Morocco.
All Moroccans nearly all seem to assume the only thing tourist want is a carpet.
Buy direct from the producers whenever possible. If needs must.