Traveltino + [travel]

Hallucinations and Le Shopping in Le Souk

The Marrakech souk by the Jemaa El Fna square is probably one of the world's craziest! Getting lost in its labyrinthine druba (derb-singular; in Arabic meaning dead end street or quarter) is quite a pleasure when you are surrounded by all the razzle-dazzle.

Shopkeepers will wave at you, ask where you're from, and invite you to have a look inside their store. "Just look, just look," is their usual hook. You will be cautious and noncommittal but firm with your dealings with the locals. Some vendors might be a tad pushy, but with an iron smile and a solid "no, merci," you can trudge past them brash peddlers.

But when you find yourself wanting some exotic goods or trinkets, be prepared to engage in a friendly banter. Get to know the vendor. Ask questions. Ask for his store's name. Apparently, I learned that Hassan is a lucky name for a business, or a son, for that matter. I also learned that some shopkeepers will have multiple outposts in different sections of the souk.

The week we were in Marrakech, I went to the souk everyday. I hallucinated about living there, imagining myself to be a character from a Graham Greene or Robert Ludlum international espionage novel. I sat by a roadside café, sipping a cold drink, looking incessantly cool with my white linen caftan and trousers, and a Panama hat with the brim pulled down low. Marrakech is sensational!

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