Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Day in the life of the Djenna el Fna

A huge medievil square surrounded by a medina that has become the centre of Marrakech. The Djenna El Fna is the stuff of dreams or perhaps nightmares if the snake charmers trick you into having your photo taken with a cobra around your neck. The price of the photo will be one dollar plus another 5 if you want them to take the cobra of you. But no need to worry really as it's lips have been sewn togethor so it can't bite. (well one hopes anyway). It's a stage of every busker come street hustler imaginable, in the morning they float in, lay down their wares and start hustling for money, of course tourists are the number one target but this is also a square for locals no doubt about it. The daytime is the domain of the snake charmer, the henna ladies, the orange juice sellers, the street dentists, the bellydancers, the fortune tellers and the witchdoctors. Come mid afternoon and the square starts to liven up with an acrobat troupe from the North of Morocco, a storyteller as old as his stories and the tribal dancers. There are people singing, banging drums, hawking magical cures, juggling fire or simply asking for a spare dirham. As darkness sets and the Muezzin calls his faithful, the food stalls set up selling everything from Goats head soup to boiled snails to pigeon pastillas. Always there are the colourful water sellers, the tea stalls, and the nut stalls all shouting out to the passing tourist "what country you from," hey Kangaroo" Mr Fish and chips" " hola" "oregato". Any Moroccan who doesn't have at least 5 languages here really doesnt cut it. A man darts in front of you with a whispered hashish, an old lady pushes her granddaughter in front of you pleading for a spare dirham, and a cat manages to steal a chicken wing much to the dismay of the matriarch running the food stall. It really is a magical place and the action goes on well past midnight as the songs, stories, music continue before it slowly dies down and becomes the haunt of well groomed young men looking for some action. Everyone enjoys the square and it has become the centre of Marrakech life. Thank Allah that they didn't turn it into a car park in the 70's. The world would have been a much poorer place.

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