Sounds of Marrakech

Koutoubia Mosque, old Marrakech

The sounds of Marrakech Medina, as heard during a nap after flying in at 6 a.m.:

the buzzing of flies
rooster crowing
birds chirping loudly
the imam’s call to prayer
children yelling in the street
then quiet

It is hard to fall asleep here, but it is easy to relax. There is a serenity that settles beyond the repetitive sounds of nature and the noise of the city. Five times a day, the call to prayer lifts up from numerous ornate minarets like the sorrowful wail of a father who has lost his sons in battle; it is the most tragic of all cries. At 10 pm, the last prayer of the day begins with a green light flashing from the main minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque and before the untrained ear has had a chance to register the call, other voices pierce the dark with their own mournful replies, each timbre drawing an intricate and incomprehensible lace of sound on the night.

Having heard this last call to prayer from the rooftop of our restaurant, we order wine (because we are tourists) and go down the windy narrow staircase to the main room. The place looks like a palace, two citrus trees are growing in the middle of the room, between them a pool of rose petals and flickering tea candles. Marrakech locals don’t have dinner here. This is a touristy spot with exquisite food at prices we can afford. We devour tender lamb tagine, dip pieces of soft bread in close to magical spreads of equally magical bright colors: tomato, carrot, olive, eggplant, cucumber, beetroot. This is our first and best Moroccan dinner, which will be hard to forget.

On the way back to our riad, our midnight guide through the labyrinthine streets is a silent white angel showing us the way to a safe haven.  His clean robe flickers under the street lamps. He wears a red fez, the tassel hanging symmetrically down the back. He delivers us to our home safely and we give him 50 dh for his troubles.

More about Marrakech: The “hidden sights” and Moroccan food: joys and pains and Hammam


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