Marrakesh: the hot, unruly crossroads of North African cultures, where everything happens at once. Our hotel here is a huge, French-designed and operated behemoth. Our over-furnished room overlooks a large swimming pool. After the relative austerity of Essaouira, it looks inviting.
A short taxi ride gets us within a block or two of the Jemaa El Fnaa, the main square, but traffic is so heavy that the cabbie drops us on an unfamiliar side street, and we promptly get lost. Twenty minutes of wandering later, we finally find the square. Maggie is intoxicated with all the new sensations, and is seduced by a henna artist.
Ten minutes and $25 later, we are ready to eat. The square is filled with brightly-lit full-service restaurants that disappear entirely during the day and re-appear from thin air (it seems) each night. We don’t have to decide which one to choose; we are summoned to the nearest one by the enthusiastic performance of the staff.
After eating we dip our toes in the night markets nearby, but real shopping can wait till daytime, when it is calmer.
Dror proposes to find someone to help with my bad leg: a friend of a friend has an acupuncture clinic here. I’m definitely ready to try this, especially after a frustrating round of formal guided touring in the morning. We take some time to relax at the pool, then Marouane and her brother Loubna meet me in the room. Marouane’s style of acupuncture is like nothing I have seen before. Needles I understand, but colored dots? Loubna’s official role is translator but his English is nearly as limited as my French, so we have some ambiguities, and my request for an explanation of the colors elicits little clarity. (The wrap around my finger is holding an unhulled buckwheat groat tightly against an acupuncture point–some sort of slow-working equivalent of needling, I think.)
But, bottom line, the treatment works wonders. An hour later, I feel fine. We go marching off to our continued exploration of the medina; I don’t feel the knee pain again until the next afternoon.