by Stephen Tall on April 30, 2011
Tragedy is always more real if there’s a personal connection, so I was deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of 15 people in Marrakech, Morrocco, as the result of what looks like a terrorist bomb — a cafe, Argana, in the city’s buzzing Djemaa el-Fna square was targeted.
We enjoyed a fantastic six days in Marrakech back in 2007. I don’t think we ever ate at Argana, though it appears in a few of my holiday snaps:
The Djemaa el-Fna pulls off that rare trick of being both hideously touristy and utterly magical at one and the same time. We ate there most days, luxuriating in delicious tagines and yogurts (and the knowledge that an amazing meal for two would cost us about 3 euros), while spending hours people watching.
The swirling aromas of cooking pots and spices, the vibrant stands bursting with the orangest oranges, the mañana-drift to and from the souks, the madcap motorcyclists, the crook-toothed street performers, bemused tourists intoxicated by curiosity, street-savvy locals fluent in lovely-jubbly slang: all mingle together in the Djemaa el-Fna.
More than any other place I’ve visited, I think of it as an organism, pulsing with its own life. Which makes it all the more wrong that it’s now scarred by violent death.