Last Tuesday I flew out to Marrakech to photograph the much anticipated wedding of Suzanne & Stuart. Suzanne & Stuart hired me well over 18 months ago now for their beautiful Moroccan wedding. Their wedding was on the Friday, so...I luckily had a lot of free time to meet all of their family and friends, party, relax and more importantly explore! And in particular I wanted to explore the Souks in Old Town Medina.
Heading out to Morocco I heard a lot of stories about the people there. "Don't look lost, because someone will take advantage and charge you for directions", "People will try and charge you to take pictures", "Never follow anybody anywhere"....So this instantly made me and my friend Amy a bit cautious. However...I can honestly say we had the total opposite experience.
Walking through the tiny streets of Medina you can see why people would say this, (I'm sure most people had a vastly different experience to us), the heat, the constant starring because we were western women, the crazy fast bikes which would beep loudly every couple of seconds for us to move out of the way, the constant tacky american-isms the locals seemed to have picked up, "baby, I like you very much". I can totally understand why this would freak people out, and it did at first, but after a while it started to become white noise, which could be batted off quite easily with a simple "No", which was then countered with a polite "Ok, have a nice day". Bizarre. But alas, we persevered. And I am glad we did. Because we met some freaking wonderfully crazy people! Whilst walking through the streets, donning very large conspicuous cameras, we drew the attention of an elderly gentleman who beckoned us to the doorway of his small shop. Where he proceeded to say "picture picture" to us quite a few times, now, being the sceptics and weary pair we are, we proceeded to ask "how much?", "no no", he replied, and proceeded to show Amy a small photo album dating back to 1996, of photographs of all the tourists he had allowed to take a photograph in his shop, in exchange for a copy of said photograph which he could place in the album. Well of course we took the gent up on his offer, took a small card from him with his address on, and we are going to forward some lovely pictures to him.
Continuing on our day exploring the Souks, we then came across a gentleman who very clearly learnt his English from British TV or even worse American TV (what I can only assume being Only fools and Horses, or some other awful example of the British Language), uttering phrases to us like, "Cheap as chips" and "My sister from another mr". He proceeded to pull us into his scarf shop and show us every single coloured scarf he had. He showed us how to wear them properly and then continued to very kindly explain to us that..."People will lie to you, we don't make silk here, if people tell you this, they lying to you, these are made in China."...And low and behold, he was right. There on the scarves, were tags which stated "Made in China". Well I can safely say this man saved us a lot of money that day, and a lot of embarrassment. We left with two beautiful MOROCCAN made scarves! At a very very low price! Thank you Abdul my man!
Next up, we did what everyone told us we shouldn't do....Looked lost. We were collared by a young Lad, (I actually forget his name), who kept asking us what we wanted to see? insisting that we needed to see all the fabrics being dyed ready to make into scarves. After several "no"s, and "how much?", he insisted he didn't want any money, just wanted to show us the dyeing process, we reluctantly followed him. Now, this is the point where my mothers voice popped into my over active, over thinking brain, and I started to warn Amy that "Mate this is where we f*cking die", no seriously Amy, "This is where we get sold into white slavoury", yes..yes I said this! Well, if you'd of seen the teeny tiny alleys we were being lead down, you would of freaked out too! Isn't it sad though that this is instantly where our minds go.
Turns out, he was just taking us to his Uncle's scarf shop...Very nice scarves they were too, nothing sinister at all. Whoops! Firstly he took us up onto the roof of the shop, showing us all over the entire Souks. Wow, it was a crazy view! Looking right over the run down shops, homes etc of the Old Town, stretching all the way out to the Old Mosque overlooking the City. It was at this precise moment that the afternoon call to prayer could be heard all over the City. That sound really resonates with me. It reminds me of Holidays spent with my Dad and Step-Mum in Dubai and Abu Dhabi when I was about 5 and 6 all the way up to the age of 18/19. It is a surreal and beautiful sound.
We then made our way down to his Uncle's shop, where he showed us all the different powdered dye's used to make all their beautiful patterned scarves, he also showed us how to properly wrap a head scarf. Not that I remember, I was too busy trying not to sweat in my eyes. 45 degrees will do that to a woman....We thought our tour ended here, but we were wrong. We offered him 10 dirham for his trouble, but again he wouldn't take our money. Instead he showed us to his father's shop, what I can only assume is classed as a traditional Apothecary, filled with every spice, lotion and potion for any ailment, issue you could dream of. He sat us down in his air conditioned shop, (yeah air conditioning! Thank god! Or Allah, whatever), and continued to explain what they use every spice and lotion for, letting us try absolutely everything. He even gave us free mint tea from a local cafe. So we sipped and tried soaps and spices and anything else you can think of. Top customer service if you ask me.
We both left weighed down with spices, tea and much more. We just had to buy some bits and bobs to return home with. The mint Tea is a particular favourite!! I know my Mum definitely appreciated it! Our adventure didn't stop there, but I honestly think you will nod off if I tell you anymore.
It's safe to say the only time we got ripped off our entire stay there, was by taxi's. But to be honest when it's 45 degrees every day, you get pretty sick of haggling with the buggers! Who were we kidding, we were getting in the sodding taxi whether it was 10 Dirham or 20. It was genuinely so hot I think I could of burst into flames!
You can follow our little adventure in the photos below....I hope you enjoy! (Look out for Abdul, he was a hoot).
Pre-shoot/wedding and post shoot images will be coming soon...to be kept up to date however, follow me on Facebook....Click Here!