Saturday, February 26, 2011

First Report from Marrakech

We are now in a city which I have wanted to visit for many years,  My image of it was the ultimate exotic north African city.  And it has not disappointed.

I first became of aware of the city when Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young did the song Marrekech Express in the late 60s.  I had no idea where Marrekech was but the whole thing sounded exotic to me.  During this trip,
I googled the song and found out that it was written by Graham Nash while he was still with the Hollies.  They recorded the song but never released it.  He wrote the song after taking a train trip to Marrekech circa 1963.

I have raved about some of the places where we have stayed on this trip but La Mamounia is absolutely the best. It was built in the 1920s and opened again eighteen months ago after a five year restoration.  The restoration took that long because it was difficult to find the needed craftsmen.  But it is magnificent with dark woods and beautiful tile work.  I have posted a couple of photographs but it is very difficult to depict this place and its beautiful gardens.  I encourage everyone to check out the website for this place and see professional photographs.

This morning, we took a guided tour of the medina or the walled old city.  We first walked through twisting alleys where various craftsmen were producing their wares.  The most frequent craftsmen were producing leather and metal items.  Their handiwork is quite handsome and you wish that you have room to buy and take it home.  We also visited a  former school and royal palace.  We finally walked to  an open square where you can let your imagination roam.  There were snake charmers playing their instruments with the snake swaying to and fro.   You should have seen Deb move when one of the snake charmers came toward her with a snake in hand. There were monkey handlers with monkeys who were doing acrobatic feats.  There were fortune tellers, tooth pullers, letter writers, and other useful people.  We did not take pictures because these people expect to be paid when their picture is taken.

We are going to the souk(market) and I think Deb has an eye on some spices she cannot buy at home.  More on that later.

I have had only one disappointment on this trip.  I knew that Churchill brought Roosevelt here in 1943 after the Malta Conference.  Roosevelt stayed in a leased home known as Villa Taylor.  It was owned by an American family named Taylor and was  leased by one of the government during the war.  There was a tower in the villa and there is a famous picture of Roosevelt and Churchill looking at the Atlas Mountains in the distance.  Of course, Roosevelt had to be carried up the steps to the tower.  When Ms. Taylor learned that a Democrat had stayed in her home, she promptly sold it.  I wanted to visit Villa Taylor but learned this morning that it is a private residence and you can not get anywhere near it.

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