A Normal Night in the Medina

I enter the Medina just as one of the daily calls to prayer begins. Although late, the Medina is busy with lots of people. Well, most of it. The main roads with the leather and carpet shops for the tourist closed by about 8:30, but the side streets where the locals do their shopping are bustling with activity. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had just watched the sunset, I never would have known it was night. Lit, partially by the bright unshaded lightbulbs, and partially by the moon (it was a particularly bright night), the narrow and winding alleyways that house little corner shops continue with business as usual despite the late hour. Here one can buy any of the necessary and unneccessary detritus of life. There are spice shops with gigantic bags of every possible spice imaginable, from different types of dried chilli peppers, dried roses, turmeric, and henna to pickled lemons, olives, cinnamon, and bay leaves. The butcher shops are open and present an interesting assortment of meats, including cow heads, goat feet, and brains. In the middle of the narrow streets (barely larger than my arm-span), people are selling dates, live turtles, parrots, and gerbils. There is even a corner dedicated entirely to fabric where every type of pattern and material can be found. Everywhere there are little children, no taller than the height of my knees running around. The smell of dried fruit, frying fish (so fresh, that the man picks a live one out of a bucket and skins and fries it in front of you), roasting meat, and baking bread follow you throughout the Medina. The fish smells so good, as attested to the milieu of stray cats (that seem to run wild in the street) that surround the fish stand. Amidst this feast for the senses, is the hum of voices speaking Darija, Arabic, and French, bargaining, haggling, and selling.

Not exactly the safest place at night, the Medina. At least not for someone who doesn’t have the little alley ways and side streets memorized. While no one hastled me, I did get lost on my way out. Lucklily, a woman, just returning from visiting her sister in the hospital (she had given birth to a healthy baby boy) was kind enough to walk me out of the Medina and to the tramway. I made it back just in time to take the last tram home!

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