When I visited Marrakech in November last year I expected a sun drenched North African city with a bustling and vibrant atmosphere.
I was wrong about the first part. It rained. Heavily. In fact Morocco experienced its heaviest spell of rain in over fifty years. Apart from one dry day which I spent in the Atlas Mountains, it rained the whole week. During the downpours the famous square of Jemaa El Fna cleared of people as the snake charmers, wrestlers, teeth pullers and other tourist traps ran for cover while orange juice vendors looked on in disbelief.
The rain, at times seeming relentless, gave way occasionally to drench the city and the surrounding Berber villages in the high Atlas Mountains with the warmth of the African sun. It was in these moments that I took a 1970’s Canon camera and a few rolls of film out to wander through the labyrinth of the Medina, among the thousands of souks.
The people of Marrakech tried to carry on about their businesses, hawking goods or ferrying stock among the narrow streets. But the city seemed quiet, subdued even, as the dark alleyways filled with puddles and shop owners huddled together in doorways, awaiting the next downpour of rain. In the old koranic school of the Merdersa Ben Youssef, the shallow pool of the beautiful tiled courtyard splattered with raindrops.
Up in the Berber village of Ait Amer, below the snow capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains, villagers enjoyed cups of sweet mint tea in the warmth of the returning sun.