ONE ARABIAN TAXI RIDE

 

I landed in the Marrakesh Menara Airport at about 10 in the morning and no one was waiting for me. I was there solo. ‘What now?’- I thought. Words in Arabic and a reminiscence of Aladdin living in these unknown lands suddenly started filling every place I set my eyes on. ‘I am in Morocco!’ – I wanted to scream but kept my mouth shut. I passed the immigration interview that seemed a little intense but understandable, ‘we are the same way in America’- I thought. I walked out of the airport with my North face Duffel bag on my back and my smaller backpack in front of me. My money belt was on and my passport was hidden there too. ‘I am ready to take this continent! But… Where is the taxi stand? …’- I thought. A group of men dressed in long tunics wearing characteristic hats were congregating around some cars parked on the side of the road. One of them approached me speaking to me in Arabic. ‘I am sorry Sir I don’t speak Arabic’- I said. He turned around and walked away, so I walked towards the group of men and asked them – ‘Riad Marrakech Rouge. How much?’

Apparently the Riad Marrakech Rouge has a different name in Arabic. One of the taxis took me for 5 more US dollars than what the taxi service of the Riad was offering. I regretted one more time not booking the service. The man in the taxi tried to ask me a lot of questions. He was playing Shakira in the car and tried to speak Spanish to me when I told him I was born in Peru. He was very warm and welcoming and spent the entire ride singing and pointing at buildings. I nodded a lot. Sometimes I would not understand what he was saying because the music was very loud. 

The ride was long but I could feel we were close when the taxi finally drove through big medieval-times-like castle walls that enclosed a smaller part of the city like a Fortress. Marrakesh is composed of the Ancient city that everyone calls ‘The Medina’ and the modern city. I booked a Riad inside of the Medina because I thought what is the point of staying in a modern city? What is more modern than America? The taxi driver said something about a shortcut and told me he could not drive any further. He stopped the car next to an alley and a group of 3 men started screaming at the taxi driver. He screamed back to them and then told me to get out of the taxi. 

The 3 men were impatiently waiting next to the trunk to get the luggage. I told them I did not need help and put my backpack on my back. One of them still took my bigger bag so I let him. They walked me through the labyrinth-like alleys of the ancient medina of Marrakesh. There was people everywhere talking, singing, enchanting cobras, selling carpets, clothes, jewelry and furniture. I was overwhelmed by the magical spell of the city. It was just like walking inside of ‘Arabian Nights’ world but during the day. After a few minutes of walking very fast we got to the entrance of the Riad. The men started demanding money so I pulled a 20 Dirhams bill but they got mad at me when they saw it. They screamed ‘We want greens’ – referring to US dollars or maybe Euros. I told them to give me my bag so I could go inside and get them the money. The hostel door man helped me with my luggage and inside I sought advice. One of the guys that worked at the Riad told me to not worry and that he was going to take care of it. I gave him my 20 Dirham bill and sat down perplexed by the beauty of the Guest House I was in. He made them go away.

I was sitting on beautiful Moroccan furniture and the entire place was surrounded with beautiful lamps, velvet couches that had the most exquisite designs and the main area of the Riad was an open living room. I walked out to admire the place and when I looked up I saw the balconies surrounding the 3 floors of the Riad that made a perfect rectangle around the open space. A lady called my name inside of the reception and asked me to sit down and relax. She brought me the traditional Moroccan Mint Tea and a few cookies on a silver tray. ‘What a beautiful tea set!’- I said while admiring it. I wanted to get one for myself but when you travel for so long it is hard to imagine carrying all those things around a continent.

The tea was almost perfect. A little too sweet for my taste but it is tradition in Morocco. I wanted to learn everything about the amazing place I was slowly discovering. The sweet lady gave me so many tips about everything in the medina. She gave me a map and pointed where to go, where not to go and when to go. I was very pleased with all the service. This was an amazing place to be. ‘Mohammed will show you your room. This is your locker key’- She said to me while pointing at a very attractive young guy. Mohammed carried my luggage upstairs and showed me the beautiful room and washrooms. There was a hangout area on the roof top of the Riad. I thanked Mohammed and went in my room to lay down but it was not too long before I realized how lucky I was about to get.

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