1 May 2011

Marrakesh, April 2011

Since arriving in Morocco, the only word that comes to my mind is, intense. The last 24 hours have probably been the most hectic and emotionally draining I have had in a long while. So let me start at the beginning. Flying into Marrakesh was incredible, seeing the checkerboard-like land in vivid colours of red and, well, darker shades of red was unlike anything I’d experienced before. Walking into Jemaa el-Fna square, which is the main square in Marrakesh, you are immediately greeted by snake charmers thrusting snakes in your direction and encouraging you to take photos (which you later have to pay for, mind you), men with pet monkeys, women who want to decorate your hand with henna (which is traditionally a way to celebrate a special occasion) and a number of fresh juice and food carts. The atmosphere within the square is pulsating and the people are so animated and welcoming. Walking through the square you enter the Souqs in which the first thing you notice are the vibrant colours and the low murmur of people haggling for the “best price”. In the souqs, you can buy anything and everything from leather jackets and bags to beautifully crafted dishes and lampshades. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

We then walked back into the square, took a few photos directly opposite Argana Restaurant and CafĂ© but then decided to keep walking to find some food elsewhere. About 5 minutes later we heard a loud and deep “boom” and felt the ground shake. Considering I’ve been fortunate enough to have not experienced what a bomb feels like when it explodes, I can tell you, that when it happens, you just “know”. Turning around to see where it came from my eyes immediately saw a cloud of smoke and debris in the sky. My heart went into a flutter and analysing everyone’s reaction around me, this was something out of the ordinary. I don’t know why we didn’t turn around and go back to see what had happened, we just kept walking. Which in hindsight was probably the best thing to do. Hearing stories back in the riad about what immediately followed was chaos and panic, women crying, ambulances carrying away the injured, people trying to put the fire out while others ran in the opposite direction. During this time, we had delved deeper into Marrakesh’s labyrinth eventually finding the spice market and Palace. An hour after the bomb exploded we were back in the square on our way to the riad for an afternoon nap when we noticed the commotion and people congregating in the square. Then I noticed it. The restaurant that we had walked past 5 minutes earlier was no longer there. Not being able to communicate with anyone, we decided to go back to the riad to gain an understanding of what was going on and as you can imagine, there were so many thoughts running through my head including, but wishfully thinking it wasn’t a terrorist attack.

Back in the riad things became crystal clear. It was a terrorist attack with earlier reports of a suicide bombing but now is a result of a remote detonation. Initially, I was concerned but now I’m just angry. From what I had witnessed, the Moroccan people are so friendly and accommodating and heavily reliant on tourism as a source of income and for an attack to occur in broad daylight in the middle of a popular tourist destination, and for it to have been detonated remotely, is in my mind, cowardly. In such a situation, I would have imagined that I would be a nervous wreck, however, later that evening, we returned to the square where the mood was somber and respectful. Looking at the news today, there have been anti-terrorism protests at the site of the explosion condemning Thursdays attack.

It is such a shame that this is the world that we live in today, where terrorism is a real threat to our livelihood. 

Our Riad
Argana Cafe and Restaurant
Photos taken by Jessica Rabbit

1 comment:

  1. Colors, smells and sound! It must be a great place!!!!!!!!


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