The beating heart of Marrakech

Djamma El Fna is pumping. Smoke from the grill of stand 29 pumps out across the square, putting a mystical haze across the snake charmers, fortune tellers, monkey pimps and men who are dressed like lumpy women, with a scarf across their faces, bellydancing to a crazy band, money in the tambourine, please.

I take a seat at Number 29 and order tehan. For 12 dirhams ($2) I get a thick round of bread on paper, and two aluminum bowls. One is filled with bright red pureed tomato sauce, the other with tehan, chopped and sautéed with onions and fat. It’s the first time I’ve knowingly eaten spleen. Hopefully it doesn’t result later in venting my spleen.

Walking home, I collect my landmarks. The fruit market with its barrows of bright yellow melons. The crazy display of taps and pipes with a badly handwritten sign advertising a ‘plomber’. The mosque with the dicey-looking WC beside it. The neon flashing telephone shop. And finally I take the turn down the chopped up laneway that, every time I do it, makes me feel like a local.

I know where I’m going. I’m going home. To the white cat that sleeps at the door, so still I could assume he was dead if I didn’t see his scarred ears twitch occasionally. To the jasmine-scented courtyard. To the hum of the staff in the warm, friendly kitchen and the slice of tart apple flan they have left out for my late-night snack. It’s good night from me…

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