This is a tale of two cocky tourists who thought they could master the Old Medina in Marrakesh. We had originally booked a group tour with a reputable tourism company to help us navigate the maze-like shops, unfortunately the day of our arrival we received an email notifying us that the tour was cancelled. Great. We decided to ask our Hotel Manager for a map of the marketplace and he directed us where to go with a rough line weaving in and out of the small streets. There we were, map in hand with scribbled circles indicating the best museums and restaurants, it was going to be an adventure.
We took the train from Casablanca to Marrakesh, AKA the “Old City”, it was a beautiful ride with wide open landscapes and a broad skyline. Once we exited the train station there were cabbies swarming the street out in front shouting their cab fares in Arabic. After carefully selecting a driver who looked somewhat trustworthy we arrived at the Old Medina, a large marketplace enclosed within a huge wall, a group of pre-teen boys surrounded the cab drop off area offering to haul luggage and direct tourists to their hotels (better known there as Riads). We entered a maze with food stands, shops, donkeys pulling carts, stray cats laying in the sun, and little alleyways that lead to who knows where. After following our gangly teenage guide for about 15 minutes we started to veer off towards one of these mysterious alleys and I was questioning our sanity for blindly following a local kid instead of hiring a professional guide.