Modernity and tradition coexist in Marrakeesh albeit not without a least the occasional clash. Modern cars and buses abound. On the other hand deliveries in the Souk are sometimes done by mule, sometimes trotting rather swiftly through the narrow streets as scooters weave through even the most narrow of alleys, brushing you at times with whatever hangs out from their carts. Women covered from head to toe, a small percentage here, walk side by side chatting with those in jeans.
Past shops offering cheap Chinese imports you find traditional craft shops by the thousands, dwarfing any shopping zone I’ve ever seen by astronomical amounts (until we went to Fws). Leather. Who’s going to buy those thousands of leather purses? You pass by large piles of skins, prepared in the nearby tanneries, men standing in the dyes as they turn the hides, so you know there are more purses jackets, belts and shoes in the pipeline.
We passed a medical clinic on the way, all shiny and modern like the solar panel monitor displaying the roof panel outputs. Our guide -you need one or you’ll be forever lost in those nameless narrow alleys- took us to what he called a pharmacy. These, he claimed, they had clean pure products, unlike the open air stands he pooh poohed. A woman in a white coat offered a jillion natural products to us, an unsubstantiated health claim for each one.
Men kiss upon greeting but men and women don’t, although swear, I do m that I saw two couples doing just that on a park bench we passed on the way from the airport. In Rivat, the capital, two girls kissed in public and one -why just one or better yet why anyone – was arrested. Lesbian, let alone gay, is just too far into modernity I suppose.
It’s a fascinating beginning to our time in this modern Muslim nation.