22 September 2017

away to morocco, part two: riad les yeux bleus.

tucked deep into the sandstone walls of marrakech are riads -- centuries-old guesthouses -- by the thousands. wandering the quiet alleys, marked by potted plants and lounging cats, there's no sense of what lies beyond the earth-colored walls. marrakech keeps her own secrets.

arriving by taxi from the airport, our driver sped into the old medina, passed the families of five or six sharing a single motorbike, and dropped us at the mouth of an alleyway. we carried our bags, looked for number seven, knocked, and waited. 

once the homes of merchant families, riads are tiny paradises. stepping beyond the wall, we were served hot tea of spearmint and a lump of sugar, shown to our bedroom, and given free run of the place. fountains and plunge pools, a library, a chess room, a rooftop oasis -- it was ours for the roaming.

never before ones to spend much time at our accommodations while traveling, we were enchanted by our riad and settled into a steady rhythm. roam, recharge, repeat. we'd spend hours in the blazing african sun, navigating hawkers and the buzzing market square, and return to our riad with a deep breath, happy to have spent a day out and happy to spend an afternoon in. we sipped tea under trees alive with songbirds -- because there is hardly rainfall, the courtyard has no roof. we soaked in icy pools and shared spreads of traditional salads. we read paperbacks on the roof over coffee and sweet breads with cheese and jam. we were bewitched by hanging lanterns and hand-woven carpets, carved wood and vivid tiles, by living our way into hours counted by birdsong and the arabic call to prayer. 

21 September 2017

away to morocco, part one: out & about in marrakech.

i have spent the week since our return home turning thoughts of these travels over in my head, and i hardly know how to begin to talk about this place or what it was to lay our eyes -- our feet -- upon it. i suppose the best i can do is just...begin.

marrakech was utterly different, entirely other, than anyplace either of us had witnessed. every element challenged all we had known -- the flavors, the expressions of faith, the interactions with locals, the arabic language like velvet rolling off tongues, the way the sun feels so close, like you could reach up and touch it. we were enchanted from the first.

we explored on foot, our eyes open in awe. we found such exquisite beauty in masterwork carvings and mosaics, in each call to prayer, in the pink walled city, in the dry african air perfumed with spices and mint. our spirits flickered at the vibrance of the souks, each a tangle of berber carpets and snake charmers and hawkers and fresh pressed juices. we ached at the way the sun lit afire jemaa el-fnaa at dusk.

we made way in and out of alleys and gardens, filling our bellies with lamb tagine and mint tea and pastilla with milk, peeling back the layers of this mysterious place. to see the worlds of deep and ancient beauty beneath. to make sense of the place, and our place in it.

how this place moved us. how this place stirred our wandering souls.

(and to us, marrakech will always be where i first felt our babe's kicks, like tiny shooting stars, giving papa quite the thirtieth birthday present, giving us more joy than we could've dreamt up.)