We leave the minaret of the mosque behind us and after crossing a short street and without realizing we literally dive into the ancient Djemaa el Fna, Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Upon entering the huge esplanade we are suddenly surrounded by some outstanding trainers of monkeys with their animals at their shoulders and other bizarre characters dressed in red hats, hanging some medals that clinks, trying once again, in several languages not to pass up the opportunity to photograph us with their pets and their hats. Knowing that the picture will not be free and trying not to be late for our appointment, in our flight several people find us with no possibility of escape: some henna tattoo artists and ladies reading cards and palms from the small hole in burka which frames their deep black eyes outlined with Arabic kohl, the particular cosmetics of this part of the world. The ladies have taken our hands in our resignation to pass their fingers along the lines of our palms singing some Arabic phrases that we do not understand. Meanwhile, all around us, a peculiar dentist displays last teeth extracted just a few meters from a snake charmer surrounded by several black cobras, according to them, brought from the desert, which seem to balance with the sound of his flute. Switching to English, the hand reader lady congratulates us in disbelief for the two children we will have and how happy we are going to be , as fate has written in our hands. When we pay them, the laughs of our friend Bachir behind us force us to turn around and to discover him standing in the crowd having a fun time while watching our particular show. Find us in the middle of the madness of Jemaa el Fna, is like finding a needle in a haystack, something only a Moroccan could do. Bachir and his kind manners welcome us to Marrakech from its very center, the bustling of now it will be much easier to get out with the invaluable help of our friend. This aid starts by teaching us a new word that will make us the life easier during our stay in your country: the Arabic negative 'la'. If it is true that in life we must learn to say no, we seem to have found the perfect time and place to start working on it .
Getting to one side of the square a number of open lanes form the entrance to what we think is the famous bazaar or souk of Marrakech. Visiting a place like this requires a prior mental preparation to avoid uncomfortable experiences. Exploring the narrow streets of the bazaars implies undoubtely becoming the focus of traders and sellers who have learned since childhood to earn their living by selling to curious visitors for who surely will be tough to go out with empty hands and a full wallet. However, getting lost in the markets is a wonderful experience so that mental preparation that we have done is really worth it: breathing slowly , be patient, stay calm and always returning a smile to the unknown. If there is something to be learned along the way is that sometimes a smile is the best key to open the hardest door.
With this thought in our minds we follow Bachir very closely not to get lost in a maelstrom of lamps with colored glass, chilabas with golden embroidery and bright paints, carpets with Arabic motifs, incense, herbs and spices in a thousand different hues. Among stalls and shops of mint and orange and others of shoes and leather handbags the smell of Marrakech reaches its greatest intensity becoming quite impossible to forget. Without losing Bachir's back from our view, we continue the tour through unexpected alleys full of gold jewelry, and various unknown utensils that once were probably used by some Arab sorceress.
The place, bright and smelling of coffee and mint saves however its best treasure on its top: its rooftop terrace, to where we go one by one through a narrow ladder. As we approach the end of it and trying to get our eyes adjust to the blinding rays of the sun, the sound of the city surrounds us in a strange sense of calm in the middle of the storm.
Fooling the sun in one of the tables resting under a shady area, Bachir takes a seat and we obediently imitate his steps. The temperature drops while our friend uses a few minutes to update us about his current life, in this reunion of memories and feelings that occurs between friends who stopped seeing each other for a while. Unknowingly, Bachir is also waiting for the temperature to be optimal to test one of the country's popular and oldest traditions: the famous Moroccan tea or mint tea. For Moroccans, tea preparation is a symbol of hospitality and its preparation by mixing green tea and mint, which at first glance may seem simple, represents a process with only those who have extensive experience can get the real tea of Morocco. Our friend and host starts working on it when our silver teapot arrives and there are up to six the times when he empties all the water to one cup and returns it to the kettle until tea, mint, sugar and water are mixed completely. The temperature of the tea is extremely high in another way that Morocco has to warn us that life should be enjoyed quietly and between sips. Marrakech can surprise the traveler by its flavor and its streets or by hiding an entire philosophy of life in a glass of tea. Another key point of Moroccan cuisine are its sweets and although our friend usually takes them with a very popular coffee in the country, 'ness ness' (half milk, half coffee), we do not want to miss the opportunity to try some of his favorites such as the cookies fekkass and ghriiba and the exquisite gazelle horns with almond paste.