Enchanted by Chaotic Marrakesh

Are you sure you want to come to Marrakesh?”,

Haven’t you thought of the chance of getting rob or scammed?”, and

“You are a woman, aren’t you scared of traveling there alone? What if a random guy molested you?”

are just few questions raised when people learn that I was going to Marrakesh. Those used to be the questions I asked as a reaction when people went to Marrakesh. However, my opinion changed after seeing Hani, a friend of mine, survived and even enjoyed her visit to Morocco during winter break! I totally bought her story about how fun and cheap and valuable a trip in Morocco is. I decided to buy my ticket to Marrakesh to spend Easter break there, alone.

After spending two nights in Milan, I finally lined up to pass through the immigration post of Bergamo Airport. It took the officer a while to ensure that I am entitled to fly as they could not find any visa to enter Morocco because I am an Indonesian. I told her that I do not need visa to visit Morocco yet she hesitated. Few minutes after she checked the computer and a little of asking here and there, she released me and let me go to the airside. You know what’s worse? I had to pass the exactly same question again at the immigration post of Menara Airport in Marrakesh.

Moroccan ceramics, anyone?
Moroccan ceramics, anyone?

I arrived in Marrakesh with a little money, hostel booking for two nights and a hamam voucher ;). I had no plan but I knew that I would like to have a desert tour and a day tour to another city. All was because my friend told me that it would be cheaper to arrange the trips through the hostel instead of booking everything online. What is weird about the hostels in Marrakesh is that they only offer mixed room. I stayed due to my budget, though usually I prefer female-only room for safety reasons. The hostel building is a typical Moroccan style building. Instead of having windows facing the outside of the house, the windows face the inside of the house. It is a dim-lit tall house. I paid 7 euros a night including breakfast. It was more than I could ask for such price!

Lobby of the hostel
Lobby of the hostel

The first four important things I did when I arrived were exchanging some money to Moroccan dirhams, buying a sim card, catching bus to the city center and eating KFC! The first one was because I had trouble withdrawing money from the cash machine. The machines ONLY accept cards with four-digit pin while mine has six digits. The good thing about exchanging at Menara Airport was that the rate is competitive and relatively similar to the rate at the town. The second one was to easily navigate the city and of course to stay online the whole time. The third one was to save some money because taking bus is the cheapest option! It costs 30 dirhams for one way and 50 dirhams for return ticket. Meanwhile, the last one was to fulfill my cravings because there is no KFC in Geneva. It was as important! 😀

Go with the flow of humans (reversing direction was extremely challenging!)
Go with the flow of humans (reversing direction was extremely challenging!)

Without the help of GPS, I wouldn’t be able to find found “Rainbow Marrakesh Hostel” which is located at the corner of a small alley after the Medina full of shouks. The hostel staffs were so friendly! Right when I sat down, they offered me refreshment –biscuits on a small plate and Moroccan tea with mint which tasted like a heaven on earth! At the same time, I booked two tours. One is a day trip to Essaouira which costed me only 200 dirhams (approx. 20 euro) and another is a three-day-two-night trip to the sahara that valued 800 dirhams (including breakfast and dinner)!

Alley full of people
Alley full of people

I then put my belongings on my bed in a six-bed room and headed to the Medina. I let myself get lost in a pile of shouks. I let myself get sucked by the never ending alleys. It was a charming chaos. It was full of persuasive screams of the street vendor’s waitresses. It was full of lights of lamps and candles. It was full of souls astounded by the charming chaos.

The view of the food stalls from the cafe's balcony
The view of the food stalls from the cafe’s balcony

I kept on walking until I got very hungry. I circled the food court. Most of the waiters tried too hard to persuade tourists that it became harsh causing uncomfortable impression. After assessing how the waiters persuaded tourist to come, I chose one stall. The one I considered to be the friendliest. I had calamari and vegetable couscous. It was so much to eat by myself and I only needed to pay 70 dirhams for everything!

When the sun set
When the sun set

To close the night, I continued walking. I had no idea why I ended up being a terrace café which offers the chaotic view of the Medina from above. Holding a bottle of soda because it is obligatory to have drinks or snacks to enjoy the view, I chose a chair in the corner of the terrace. Everybody was busy taking pictures with fancy camera or phones. I took few pictures as well but then I stopped and just sat on the chair. Again, I observed the surrounding people getting astounded by the chaos. It was a second worth hundreds of moments. It was a moment I realized how chaos, too, could be attractive. (eff)



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