Navigating The Souks
of Marrakesh
Morocco

Text & Photography
by Ithai Schori

It’s not an easy thing to navigate the souks of Marrakech.

 

As I walked through the endless maze of vendors, I felt like I was in one of those wild Japanese obstacle courses that would end with my falling into a pit of jello at any moment. Behind unassuming doorways were mountains of textiles that created carpeted oases.  Men sharpened knives, sculpted shoes and shared spices. Butcher shops were interspersed through the streets, always with the patient stray cat waiting for a fallen treat.

"The best areas for respite from the chaotic corners of the souks were hidden cafes up small staircases. From these second-story eateries, views of the city changed".
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Often times, I found myself braced against a wall as a moped or donkey sped by leaving little space for pedestrians, let alone someone stopping to try and take a photograph. The best areas for respite from the chaotic corners of the souks were hidden cafes up small staircases. From these second-story eateries, views of the city changed. From above we could see hundreds of carpet-covered rooftops dotted with indigo-clad laundry lines. In the distance, the snow-capped Atlas Mountains loomed protectively over the small red city.    

To my surprise, I found that Morocco had one of the most dynamic and extreme landscapes I have ever come across. The Atlas Mountains, just two hours drive from the Medina, have an intimidating presence and one that reminds us that there is always more to discover.  The sheer magnitude of the mountains is incredible, but on our first day there, what took me aback were the small villages that laid hidden in their valleys.

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The people who live in the mountains are Berbers, the native nomads of Morocco whose art and tradition flourish as the backdrop of the whole country. The mountains serve as their backyard – a place where century-old men walk their goats and where ten- year old boys play after school. While the mountains seem magnificent and otherworldly to me, to the local peoples, they were a home.  Never was this more evident than when we rounded a snow-capped corner and stumbled across a football pitch that was at least an hour’s walk away from the closest home. Shoes were tossed aside, beaten by the boulder field.

As our trip continued, the mountains never left us. Even as we drove towards the Sahara, through winding roads that often left us both breathless and terrified, the backdrop of those snowy peaks remained. It was not until I left that I realized that the Atlas Mountains is not only the fiercest of protectors for its people, but also a safe haven that is forever home for the most nomadic of cultures.

“The sheer magnitude of the mountain is incredible, but on our first day there, what took me aback were the small villages that laid hidden in their valleys.”

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Text & Photography
by Ithai Schori
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By Published on Mar 16 2015
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