Friday, February 29

Morocco-Andalucia, Day Three: Jummah and Gardens

Another Friday, and again today was all about Jummah prayer. We remained in Marrakech for the whole day in order to attend the prayer at Koutoubia Mosque.

But before that, we spent some time window shopping in Djemaa el Fna. My brother needed to buy some souvenirs and the like for colleagues back home and it turned out that he's a bit of a tease - he got prices down pretty well only to not actually buy anything; I suspect that bargaining and haggling is a bit of a sport for him.

Jummah prayer was interesting since it was the first time I had joined one with such a Sufi vibe. We got the pretty early and found ourselves in the middle of a group Zikr, or remembrance session. There was group recitals, chanting and a fair amount of movement (although nothing more than just rocking on the spot); I tried to join in as much as I was able to but the Quranic script and pronunciation used in Morocco made this quite difficult. I also noticed that they had three adhans (call to prayer) for Jummah, but apart from that the rest was what I was used to.

The bus back to the hotel was amusing. In my solitude (the others had gone to get lunch from McDonald's) I took the opportunity to people-watch. I overheard a couple of European tourists trying to figure out when to get off for the same hotel I was heading to. I offered my assistance and we struck up a conversation. During this I was complimented many times about my standard of English and how accessible I was being - it all became a bit too much for me so I explained how I was British, of a Pakistani background and how I was as out of place in Morocco as they were. It's funny how you can be seen in the eyes of others, although I can't really talk: I thought that they were both French.

Morocco women are a mixed bunch, both in terms of attractiveness and style. Some are hot, some are not. Some are very western, others cover up and wear the hijab and most are somewhere in between. But there also seems to be a lot of French tourists in Marrakech and unfortunately it was them who took the crown for hotness from the natives: tons of natural beauty? Yes please.

After lunch we visited Jardin Minara, one of the town parks. It wasn't as grand as had been made out although the large square pool in the middle was strikingly peaceful. The garden itself was a nice enough place to hang out; we bumped into some local youths singing, dancing, clapping and playing music in a style possibly influenced by their distance to Spain. I could have watched them for hours if I was by myself.

The rest of the evening was spent in the hotel, chilling out. After dinner the five adult members of my immediate family sat down and thoroughly enjoyed some lovely games of cards, something I can't remember the last time doing. It's not something we'd do back home that often (if at all) and another indication of how different this holiday was compared to my usual trips away.