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Souks of Morocco

“Play it for me, Sam. For old time’s sake.”
“Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’”
From the movie, Casablanca

Rick’s Cafe Amercain, exists only in the movies, but you’ll be glad you went to Morocco anyway.
It’s a fascinating mix of conservative Islamic traditions and liberal French ones, creating a looseness not characteristic of other Arab countries.

The sky is impossibly blue, set off by towering mountains and vivid yellow lemon trees. But it’s Morocco’s Souks that sum up this still vibrant country.

Crowded, overpowering, magical outdoor market places with names that seem to come from the movies – Marrakech, Fez, Tangier, and Chechaouen, Souks are streets that twist like a crazy argument, jammed with stalls and linked by corrugated tin roofs, straw or flapping tent tops. Everything is sold or bought : camels and spices; herbs and fine wrought gold ornaments. Forty or 50 burlap bags filled with red, green, yellow and ochre spices lie on royal blue cloths. Painters have tried for years to capture these color. The spice sellers hands are dyed red with paprika and maroon with henna.

Behind the spices are cascades of olives – black, green, red and yellow, some stuffed with red peppers; others cast a sheen of deep purple. Brilliant yellow lemons and red pomegranates complete the picture.

Berbers bring wool for the famous Jalabas woven here, and tea sellers jangle their silver cups as they walk past the thumping mallets of bronze makers.

The Souks define the term, “creative chaos,” and are an unforgettable experience.

Moroccan Tourist Bureau (212-557-2520) www.kingdomofmorocco.com

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