Marrakech مراكش

Spice Souq, Marrakech

Our drive from Casablanca to Marrakech was not too pleasant. We had the usual problem getting out of the Casablanca; adding at least 30 minutes spent lost in the streets of the city. We also stopped by the Casablanca airport to ask the car rental guys about the red, exclamation point light that appeared on our dashboard this morning (out of brake fluid, that's all).

I was hoping for a four-lane highway to Marrakech, but I was too optimistic; the road is two-lane and very crowded. While the distance is only 150 miles, it took about 4 hours, dodging over-packed trucks, buses with people hanging from the doors, taxis going from town to town, and wealthy, Moroccan sports car drivers.

Finally, we came upon a huge congregation of adobe buildings in the distance. The haze hanging over the flat, sub-Saharan plain was daunting. I don't precisely know what my impression of Marrakech was before I arrived there, but it's safe to say that whatever they were, they were wholly wrong. Marrakech is not the European-like city of Casablanca, rather, it appears like an oversized oasis in the middle of the desert. The red-orange buildings reflect the hue of the surrounding earth and, aside from the minarets sprinkled around town, none appear to be over three stories tall.

Once in the city, we were pulled over for speeding. Pram skillfully begged his way out of the 400 dirham (about 45 USD) fee, which must be paid on the spot. We parked the car just inside the medina and walked around looking for a place to stay. At times we were guided, other times we were on our own. We ended up splurging for a nice resort hotel that cost a lot, but was a nice refuge from the bustling city.