Marrakech with my little brother
We got into an SUV where the driver greeted us with Justin Bieber on the car stereo. We asked him if he could change the station to something in Arabic and the light in his eyes made him really excited to turn something more of his liking on.
Just about 10 minutes into the drive we started seeing bits of the Koutoubia and then horse carriages that lined the lane leading up to Djema el-Fna. We got out of the car and were greeted by a sweet, old Berber man that started walking us through a bustling square. Enchanted snakes on the left, monkeys on the right, men selling selfie sticks and the smell of citrus and schwarma perfumed the air. The square’s edges were ornamented with petit tables and chairs where tourists perched watching the energy evolve and seep into the little arteries that bled into the souks.
Once we hit the opposite end of the square, we entered little streets where markets, cyclists, old women carrying fresh bread from the market all shared little broken pavements. It was worrying at first, but it transported me back to the shanty streets of Jodhpur!
what I wore
And the little streets, opened up to residential areas where you couldn’t hear a thing but the little saunters of the local people living their everyday life. And then came a door marked with Riad Boussa. After three-knocks, Brigitte opened the door and the smile on her warm, friendly face reassured we were going to be just fine.
Each welcome came with mint tea, a sit on the edge of the courtyard that overlooked the small man-made pond in the middle that collected rose petals. We were shown around the riad, essentially a home turned into an intimate hotel, and then situated into our rooms. The rooms were comfortable and quiet, what we sought after walks through the souk to get here. And after a bit of freshening up, we made our way downstairs to dinner.
We were introduced to Ali, another friendly soul in the riad who quickly became one of our close friends and a proper face of what we will remember Marrakech by. He urged us to try the Vin Gris, a Moroccan-produced wine, which tickled our tastebuds to excite us for our first meal in Marrakech (which easily became the best meal we had during the trip).
and so it began…
The first course was a sample platter of Moroccan starters. A warm aubergine salad with garlic, sautéed courgette with preserved lemon and a briouats (meat filled pastry). Light, full of flavor and fresh. The fresh produce got me excited after a winter spent in the UK. Our second course was a chicken tagine with raisins and onions. I started with a fork, but quickly realized that I will need a spoon to eat the entree. The softest and most tender pieces of chicken on the bone, a spoonful of the slightly sweetened broth topped with a helping of raisins-it was a delicacy that I wanted to be served if I had to choose a last meal. My brother, sitting across from me, looked me straight into the eye and said “it will be hard to top this.” And it was.
Before dessert was served, we looked around and listened. Not a chirp from a bird, but just the sound of the fountain and faint North African jazz playing in the background. There was light fighting to get through the holes of a lantern and it was at that moment I finally felt like I was in Marrakech.
Riad Boussa was a blessing. To start this trip with the warmth and service they provided would not have given us the first impression we anticipated. A luxury experience without the superfluous bits and the perfect amount of keeping you excited each day to explore the vibrant, and unbelievable city.
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