A recent visit to Jemma el Fnaa, normally one of my favorite sites for a kitschy sensory overload, took an ugly turn. I normally gravitate towards the story tellers and street performers, though this evening I encountered something new. A crowd ringed a young boy while a man walked around the circle, his hands full of bills as he challenged men in the crowd to offer their sons up to fight and accepting bets on the outcome. The boy in the photograph appeared to be there against his will and was ultimately pitted against a much larger and older boy….
Life has a certain way of obliterating any plans to revamp websites and produce portfolios (the kind that elevate one’s middling photography into a stellar form of expression that causes art buyers to quiver in their boots and fight over your oldest edits). That’s just fine with me.
“From every mountain side, Let Freedom ring.”
We haven’t fallen off of the face of the earth or entered witness protection – Rosie, our lovely new puppy, recently moved in with us!
We aren’t silly and we certainly didn’t just fall off of the turnip truck – our furry buddy from the other day was interested in more than just looking cute and purring / chirping at us during lunch. Specifically, he surely thought that we were his meal ticket to a fancy seafood lunch. Barring a fresh seafood lunch, he may have settled for a squab pastilla…or just the main ingredient.
I recently met this gentleman while shopping with family in the Fes medina. His shop is directly across from the shop / workshop of another friend of ours and we chatted about home-stay programs and preservation of the medina, a sensitive subject to many of those still living inside of the medina walls.
As repeat visitors to this site probably know, I am a fan of street performers, animal tamers, story tellers, etc., and that I have a certain fondness for guarabs, the traditional water salesmen found in medinas across Morocco. Jemma el fnaa in Marrakech? Guarab paradise. Guarabs carry containers of water and are happy to pour off a cup for the equivalent of about a nickel. These men – I have never come across a female guarab – represent an interesting element of Moroccan culture, as their primary job has been displaced by access to clean running water and the prevalence…
V and I have travelled to Fes quite a few times since our arrival in Morocco. We’ve walked the narrow streets, navigated dark alleys and crowded into the Fassi souks with the best of them. We now have favorite restaurants and shops and know where the better deals are. According to one of my co-workers, I’ve been to Fes more times than most Moroccans! During our first visit to Fes I met Mohammed – a merchant whose family weaves cactus silk textiles and has occupied the same location in the medina for over 100 years – standing outside of his…
There’s a forge in the outskirts of the Fes medina that produces most of the ceramic bowls, tiles and tables found throughout the markets and souks of Fes and beyond. The forge is incredible in that the production process is demonstrated from start to finish, from the drying of the raw clay to the arrangement of hand-cut zellij tiles on ornate tables.
A quick grab of a DJ Cassiouss CD in Jemma el Fnaa, Marrakech, Morocco. The image shows one of the ubiquitous “music stores” across the medina – they’ve got everything, so long as you’re looking for what they’ve got. Gnawa and dance mixes for days. The salesmen will pop your selections into their CD player to show you that it works and you’re off.
A recent visit to Marrakech reunited with me with some of my (new) oldest friends – the street performers, henna artists, restaurant promoters and orange-juice squeezers of Jemma el Fnaa. Having been to Jemma el Fnaa numerous times, I know what to expect and how to react to the vibe of the place, which often borders on sheer craziness. First time visitors to Jemma el Fnaa should arrive prepared and in the right mind state in order to avoid anxiety, overload or a total freakout. Yeah. A total freakout. Any visit to Marrakech – unless you’ve been a few times…
No trip to Morocco is complete without spending some time at Jemaa el-Fnaa, the Mosque at the End of the World. Jemaa el-Fnaa is a large public square serving two separate functions – during the day, Jemaa el-Fnaa is occupied by roving street performers, monkeys and their trainers, dancing cobras and other spectacularly wild characters. At night, the square fills with food vendors and hawkers attempting to steer would-be customers to their stalls. Our favorite feature? Easily the fresh orange juice vendors. Try the “melange” – ooh la la! Photographers roam the square offering to capture tourists’ and locals’ experiences alike….