Lost in Marrakech
Story and photographs by Kevin Dimetres
The side winding alleys and crooked thoroughfares lead everywhere and nowhere at the same time. A pulsating vitality existed within her venerable walls; beneath her exotic exterior, Marrakech seemed to come alive.
Fleeing the swell of spice merchants and sword hawkers, I dodged the pedestrian currents through the backstreets of Marrakech. Traversing the tangled ball-of-yard layout of this ancient city led me to one exquisitely crafted door after another, seemingly designed to dispel both myself and the passage of time.
The primeval pathways, adorned with the figurative magic carpets and cartoonish bottles of genies from childhood lore, were stirring with the juxtaposed rhythms of past and present.
Far removed from the frenzied souks of Jemaa el-Fnaa, I submitted to the allure of these hypnotizing passageways, endlessly meandering within the ancient city walls.
Lavish arches connecting the towering reddish walls invited me deeper down the shadowy alleys. Opulent doorways decorated in geometric designs appeared like portals to the medieval era of camel caravans and celestial superstition.
In a city that straddles the eras of time, the magnificent doorways remained eternally timeless and stunningly beautiful.
As I crisscrossed from one doorway to the next, dizzy with awe, I lost myself in the cavernous depths of the ancient corridors of Marrakech.
The dazzling doors and arches, relics from an age when craftsmen designed doorways with a flair for self-expression, were stunning in their grandeur. In this walled city teeming with homogenous apartment compounds, the doorways accentuated a distinct sense of personality and place.
Colossal and robust, the doors were originally built to provide impenetrable security from the threat of sword-wielding invaders during an ancient era of conquest. The doors steadfastly provide character and charm to a city that remains loyal to its antiquated charisma while navigating the tides of modernization.
As the night descends upon the backstreets of Marrakech, the Moroccan doors are illuminated in their entire splendor. The dimly lit corridors reflect the shine of brass ornamentation amidst their ethereal gateways, while the ominous shadows of grandiose arches conveys an unsettling stillness of the city.
In the tranquility of the North African darkness, I remained engulfed deep within the labyrinth of Marrakech’s deserted back alleys. Lost and wandering, I leaned against the grandest of these massive doors, basking in a rare moment of silence.
In a city renowned for the incessant commotion of traders and travelers, I had her undivided attention. She smiled at me through the fascia of her decrepit walls, our connection enhanced by my absence of direction.
Neither lost nor found, I was here, in Marrakech. For an instant, the city was mine and I was hers.
Just as quickly, a pack of motorcycles zoomed past, ambushing the moment with an onslaught of headlights and engine-revving turbulence. With my back nuzzled up against the copper-toned, vault-like aperture, I contemplated an escape to the other side.
What lay behind those doors haunted me with curiosity; surreal images of Mickey Mouse stepping through the other side of the mirror danced in my head.
Perhaps a silver pot with an elongated, curved spout full of Berber tea awaited me on the other side, ready to be poured from the extended reach of gracious host. Maybe a freshly lit hookah, assembled amidst the backdrop of colorful linens draped in geometric patterns and Arabic calligraphy, was being enjoyed a hazy, smoke-filled room.
The intricately crafted brass knob perched on the door begged me to knock against the thick wooden facade, but I knew I had to go; it was far too late and I was far too lost.
Unsure where to turn, I strolled aimlessly, hoping for a sign of direction. Right on cue, two teenage boys wearing dark, hooded gandora’s approached me from behind a corner, eager to trade their knowledge of the city’s inner layout for a profit.
I could feel the ancient city grin as I was ushered back to the gates of Marrakech. Each doorway remained tightly shut, watching me through its ornamental designs like an oculus as we circumnavigated the twisting back avenues. Under a blanket of glimmering stars and willowy gusts of desert air, she kissed me goodbye as her vitality dissipated into the night.
She dances to silent rhythms and speaks a language that cannot be heard, guarding her clandestine essence. This ancient city remains alive, beaming with a playful consciousness all her own. She had embraced me in a sensual caper privy only to her, connecting us in a way that brought her vivid corridors to life.
I’d like to think she found me when I was lost, but I know this wise, old city likes to keep tricks up her sleeve.
Perhaps I was never lost in Marrakech; perhaps I was never lost at all.
Kevin Dimetres is an east-coast native, having lived in different cities along the Atlantic coastline from Boston to Miami. He currently works as an educator and freelance writer in the Washington, D.C. area. His stories have been pubilshed on Transitionabroad, Immersion Travel Magazine, GoNOMAD, InTravel Magazine, and the Washington Post.