Last year in May, I went to Marrakesh with my brother and it has possibly been the most interesting trip of my life. I have been able to discover another place, another culture and step out of my comfort zone, defying both my anxiety and first impressions.
We stayed there 4 days, wandering around the souks, eating dinner at the market in the Jemaa el-Fnaa square and being talked into buying everything by anyone.
The first day when we arrived in Marrakech, we took a cab to the medina, the old fortified city, where our riad (Riad Dar Ftouma) was located. From there, we started our first stroll around the souks. I don’t remember much about it, aside from the view we had from the top of a shop, the colorful things on sale, the dust, and the people.
In the souks, all I could see were the people. People who touched me, spoke to me, tried to sell me all their goods, gave me (unwanted and almost wrong) directions, zigzagged on old scooters between pedestrians at a dangerous speed… I couldn’t stand it and my anxiety didn’t help at all. All I wanted to do was returning to our riad, close the door behind me and wait until I could go back home. Right then and there, I experienced my very first cultural shock!
Back in the riad, I took my time to think about what happened in a more rational way. I had to reckon I was hungry and tired and my perception wasn’t at its best. The urge to discover a new place (even if apparently unpleasant) lead me to venture out again that very evening for dinner and the day after, when the big adventure began, right after a good night sleep.
Brother: “I didn’t sleep at all! I had to watch out for dangers!”
There weren’t any dangers…
“You couldn’t know. You were sleeping…”
Thank you for saving my life, brother!
I decided I was ready to venture outside again and we went out exploring Marrakesh for the next three days.
We saw the souks again and I was able to appreciate all their colors and the beautiful scarves, shoes, bags, spices and other souvenirs displayed outside the shops. I even tried to negotiate, in order to immerse myself in this culture I never experienced before, and drank some delicious mint tea in Saif’s shop. We ate Arab bread and bought traditional medicine.
We saw Jemaa el-Fnaa during the day when it’s almost empty, and at night when all the market and food stands fill up the square. The colors you can see at sunset are amazing: all those shades of red, orange and yellow reflecting on the buildings let you understand why Marrakesh is called the Red City.
I had a whale of a time! I couldn’t have experienced all of that without stepping out of my comfort zone.
Did you experience something similar? Share your experience with me in the comments section below!