Thursday's Child: Markets of Marrakech

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In December, I’ll be writing about some of the great markets of the world.  Four of these we’ve visited, and one is on my wish list!

I’ll always remember Marrakech as a city of the senses.  I’ve never visited a place that I remember the sounds, smells, looks and tastes of more than Marrakech.  And the markets, or souks, were the perfect microcosm of that. 

Although we’re independent travelers and usually prefer to see places on our own, we hired a guide in Marrakech.  The souks, each one devoted to a specialty, are a bit of a maze, and trying to maneuver our own way would have been difficult. 


The dyers’ souk was a spectacle of colours.  Swags of cloth were suspended from poles that criss-crossed narrow alleyways.  Enormous carts of vividly coloured materials sat waiting to be spun into carpets.  And bolts of cloth lay, floor to ceiling, awaiting purchase by eager buyers.  In the back of one stall, bowls of unmixed pigments were ready to be mixed with water to dye a bundle of headdresses.


Almost as brilliant, and wonderfully fragrant, was the spice market.  Row after row of sacks brimmed with saffron, cumin, paprika and other brilliantly-hued spices.  For someone like me, who loves to cook, it was almost impossible to walk by these stalls without imagining the bounty I could create, sparked by such a rush of inspiration.

Of course, negotiations are a big part of the shopping experience.  My older daughter, twelve at the time and clutching a fistful of dirhams (the Moroccan currency), wanted to participate in that, too.  She enjoyed bargaining for a cushion until the transaction became overwhelming, owing to the eagerness of the vendor and her inexperience.  We were able to step in at the end and help her negotiate a lovely yellow cushion that still adorns her bedroom.


The metalworkers’ souk was filled with intricately-shaped lamps dangling from the ceilings. In the chemist souk, we visited a professional-looking and tidy booth stocked with bottles of various shapes and hues that promised to heal any ailment. We only saw a slice of these sprawling markets and won’t forget them soon.



32 comments:

Jess said...

Amazing...I would love to see the markets in person, but for now your blog does a wonderful job of transporting me to faraway places :)

Sue said...

What a great adventure!

Faith said...

Glad you guys had a great time! I would love to go and visit someday :)

Dishesdone said...

What a fantastic trip! I enjoyed learning about the market, the dyes are so colorful!

katerina said...

Yesterday I cooked a Moroccan dish and I am planning to write about Morocco too. Marrakesh was the city that definitely won all the impressions. I loved it.

Valerie said...

Sitting in front of my computer, on a cold wintery day, I suddenly felt warm and could almost smell the exotic spices as I read your post.

Thank you, Beth.
Your daughters are gorgeous! :)

Jennifurla said...

OMG how cool! what an pretty place to visit.

Barbara said...

I adore flea markets! There's actually a great one in Santa Fe! But one of the best is in Paris. Such fun! I always spend too much money!

Carolyn said...

What a wonderful post. I almost felt like I was there! Well, not quite, but I do wish I could go. What an experience.

Emma said...

I would love to go there!

Dayana Stockdale said...

Absolutely gorgeous pictures and words. The colors! The smells! Morocco has always been high on my to-visit list.

Claudia said...

I just closed my eyes and imagined the fragrance of the spice market. What a compelling post.

comfortablydomestic.com said...

How fun! What amazing colors. I bet the spice market smelled heavenly!

Beth said...

Katerina, I'm looking forward to your Moroccan post. I love Moroccan food!

Thanks, Valerie! I think so too! (I don't usually post pictures of my daughters, but that one is four years old so I didn't mind.)

Reeni said...

I would love to visit the spice market! And all those vibrant colors are gorgeous! What a fun experience.

Velva said...

I think the description of a place for the senses is perfect. What a wonderful and enchanting country. I really enjoyed this post.

Velva

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

What a wonderful place to visit and I hope I see more of your market posts! The colors and dyes are amazing. Your girls look very happy :) Beautiful photos of an enchanting place.

Chow and Chatter said...

wow love markets fun post looking forward to more posts :-)

Monet said...

I love seeing these market pictures. I traveled to Egypt last Spring with my sister and her family, and we went to some colorful markets there. Morocco is one of my dream destinations. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you have a lovely Friday!

Rowena... said...

Markets, especially at this time of year, are things that I appreciate so much! The colors, smells, sights, sounds...a feast for the senses!

shaz said...

Such a wonderful experience, so colourful and vivid. Marrakech is one of my top hopefully-get-to-travel-to destinations.

Foodessa said...

I would have such a difficult time choosing which part of the market would be my favourite.
It looked like your time there was very memorable and exciting.

Thanks for sharing this souk with us ;o)

Have a great weekend,
Claudia

LDH said...

I really enjoyed the photos of your Marrakesh trip. All the vivid and beautiful colors are amazing. This must have been a very special trip for your family!

Indie.Tea said...

How beautiful Marrakesh looks.
Are those your girls at the end? They're adorable :)

Amie Kaufman said...

I adored Marrakech--on the end of months of travel I was still happily within my weight limit, but I came as close as I ever have to excess baggage after visiting the markets there. To be honest, I think the guy at check in was just nice to me, I must have been over!

You've brought back wonderful memories of making our way down narrow passageways--the spices, the lamps, the gorgeous crockery (you don't want to know how much I own) and the unforgettable scent of the dying yards (oof) are all dancing in front of me now.

Heather said...

I so enjoy reading about your adventurous travels. I would love to go to one of those markets but I know I would be hopeless at bargaining.

Angie's Recipes said...

A wonderful travel experience. I would love to visit the spice market!

Thanks, Beth, for stopping by blog. I look forward to reading more your adventurous travels.

Have a wonderful weekend!
Angie

Joanne said...

Mmm I would have LOVED to go to that spice market! Marrakech sounds like such a wonderful place!

julie said...

Oh my gosh! Just reading your post has me wanting to talk to my husband about buying some tickets and leaving tomorrow. That market looks like sheer heaven! I could get lost in there for days and be perfectly content.

Such an amazing experience for your children as well!

Lynne said...

A beautiful market and great post. Looking forward to reading your next post on markets.

Mary said...

I love shopping in food markets when I travel, and I would love to visit the markets of Marrakech.
:)

Hanaâ said...

Beautiful pictures! That sure brings back memories. I was there earlier this year. Thank you for that post :o)

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