Just behind the juice and dried fruit stalls is the winding labyrinth of Jemaa Al-Fna souks. Incredible ceiling to wall decorated rooms with anything from spices to shoes, bags and animal skins, perfumes and tea kettles, live animals and tons and tons of stacked carpets. The smells change from herbs, spices and flowers to sweet pastries and then to the stomach flipping miasma of treated camel leather and carcasses of animals sold on the spot. With the twists and turns of flowing traffic, you are absolutely overwhelmed with the charming and hypnotic chaos. By sounds and colors and smells and calls for you to come and look.
“Hello? Bonjour? Hola? I just have one question…You come and buy. Very good price.”
The sun washes over the open archways leading inside from the world outside with more and more artifacts and objects and things. It seeps through the holes in the wood paneled roofs and coats the cold interiors with the warmth of Moroccan sun. You could never see every shop, stop at every call. The shops have a life of their own without the help of their owners. Stories of Berber mountain people, those called ‘free men’ who sew and weave and create to be sold and bargained for. The traditions of clay slow cooking tajines and silver kettles for mint teas. Ten pound bags filled with domes of colored spices and flower bulbs, cluttered ornate lanterns, oils and henna tattoos and music and smoke billowing from one food cart polluting the fresh air.
Evenings in the souks hold a momentary calmness until all the food stalls are set up and the shops breathe fire again. Empty alleys with just a few pedestrians, lonely pairs of rainbow leather shoes dripping from the bamboo roofs, ceramic bowls painted with hamsas line back walls, vegetables restocked for the taking, herbs and oils clutter a dirt caked woven blanket. And then the sun abandons the sky and leaves only black. The souks roar to life again.
Bongos and ghitas with their tinny, spellbinding melodies accompanied by the hollow strings of sintir players gather crowds of locals who dance and sing along while restaurant booth owners challenge you to try their array of coal fired kebabs and cheer when you accept. Blazing white lights turn the old traditions into spectacle, an all night fete. Come morning, the day starts fresh again with the clatter of metal gates rising to open and all systems are go for sale again.