Back in Marrakesh, this time on a buying trip for the new Califa project the ‘Hammam de Vejer’. We’re staying at the Palais Lamrani an upmarket Riad full of old family furniture, jumbles of pictures, brass lamps, over stuffed sofas and a charming sitting room with fireplace where we wile away the occasional evening hour. The zeilig tile work is very mish mash, very old school Marrakesh which is what gives this place its special authentic flavour.
I’ve spent many many happy hours in Marrakesh and many unhappy and frustrating hours. Whichever way you absorb the ‘Red City’ it is an eternally fascinating place where you step from the brash 21st. century to the exotic layers of a seemingly medieval existence albeit interrupted by ring tones.
‘On returning from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, T’hami El Glaoui ordered the severed heads of his enemies to be mounted on his gates’. So reads this extract is from my favourite book on Marrakesh ‘Lords of the Atlas’ by Gavin Maxwell. When I first arrived in Marrakesh in 1989 I drove out in my Land Rover to Telouet clutching this book in search of one of the many Glaoui ruler kasbahs. At the end of a long dusty track settled between low arid hills I camped in an abandoned corral in the shadow of the crumbling fort. The next day with myriad storks clacking overhead I wandered the dilapidated buildings with their glossy green roof tiles, reading blood curdling stories to myself about stranglings, eye gougings and arbitrary torture. The happenings were so recent I could almost smell the blood in the corridors.
I worked for a while between Marrakesh and the Atlas mountains as a tour leader and guide in the mountains so in my down time I got to know the city well. I’ve walked and lost myself endless times in the old city but today I decided to get myself lost in the Medina with an early morning run. The sunrise (as shown in the video) was spectacular, the multiple calls of the mezzuin rousing me on to tread the cobbles of Marrakesh before the crowds filled the narrow streets.