|Tunes & Travels|
by Jennifer Matthews
Morocco is nothing short of intoxicating and amazing. Those are the first words that come to my mind to describe its magic. When I arrived in Marrakesh, I was instantly struck with the exotic architecture and the artistic flow of the city. The cab ride from the airport into the heart of the medina (the walled in city) was a good introduction to the friendly nature of the locals. Of course they love tourists there and want your money so they turn on the charm. The cabs generally (at least the ones that we rode in) have velvet curtains and tassels hanging from them in the back of the car. When the taxi arrived at our hotel and we stepped out onto the street, I was struck by the smells and the electric air of our surroundings. One of the first things I saw was a an elderly man driving an old cart led by a donkey. He was carting some kind of vegetables. He smiled warmly and went about his way. Before we even stepped foot into the hotel we had received many invitations from locals to come to their homes for tea.
Entering our hotel was exciting as the art work was very exotic with twirling iron everywhere and gorgeous tiles with intricate colorful patterns. The sounds and smells of the ancient walled in city are very alluring. All throughout the city there are shop after shops of handmade items whether it be pottery, blacksmithing, clothes, lamps, jewelry, etc… The shopping is great as there are huge outdoor markets of locals selling their wares for very low prices. You can barter with them and bring their prices down as well. The eating experience is unreal in Marrakesh. Again very exotic… the food is soulful, the décor is rich and artistic and the service is phenomenal. They really appreciate tourists and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.
One of the highlights of being in Marrakesh was after sunset in the main center of the city. There are drum circles with people dancing in the streets. There are snake charmers with the basket, the flute and the whole nine yards. Watching those snakes slither under the charmers command was quite a site. It’s the real deal. There are open air food markets where they serve powerful gun powder green tea with lots of fresh mint and food that falls off the plate into your mouth. It is that delicious.
The main reason I headed to Morocco is to attend the
annual World Music Festival in the ancient walled in
city on the sea of Essaouira. It was one of the best
times of my life. It was a three day music festival with bands from India,
Africa, and Europe. The music is unreal and the surroundings are incredible.
If you get a chance to go to this festival it would most surely be one
of the best times of your life.
Just to give you a brief layout of the World Music Festival: Overall there are nine stages of headline acts, plus two large outdoor stages that are free to the public. There are also acoustic tents and small outdoor stages that prove to be highly intimate and popular.
Also… There are many artists selling their handmade wares on the streets from pipes, to jewels, paintings, etc. The available art work for sale was impressive and super affordable.
you are heading to the music festival, make sure you book a room in advance.
The city gets pretty filled up for the festival with people traveling
to get there literally from all over the world. I can’t wait to
go back! Take a couple of days to check out the sites. Just walking around
this town is a great experience. There are a lot of fantastic photo opportunities.
You can catch a bus from Marrakesh directly into Essaouira. The buses
were sold out from Marrakesh so we ended up taking a taxi. It was a great,
memorable time. It was a three hour drive through the Moroccan desert.
Amazing!! You can make deals with the taxi drivers there. They love American
money!! Lastly… Ladies be careful… boys will take an interest
in you… When I was there they would run along side me and once in
awhile I would feel a hand reach out and touch me….mostly my arms
or hair, but once or twice they tried to brush a hand across my chest.
It was harmless and mostly was done out of curiosity. Words or wisdom:
If you are a female don’t travel there alone and try to travel with
someone who speaks either French or Arabic. Flights from Paris into Marrakesh
are pretty cheap and are relatively short. Don’t forget this music
festival is free!! And you can find pretty cheap accommodations.
I have been a professional singer for over
twenty years and teaching voice lessons for over ten years. I received
my vocal training at the University of Colorado School of Music at Boulder
and Denver and at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University
in NJ. Singers who influenced me greatly in my early years were Linda
Rondstadt, Anne Wilson from Heart, Robert Plant, Ian Anderson from Jethro
Tull, Judy Garland & Aretha Franklin.