Jamaa el Fnaa

photo by Nicholas Bolognia

photo by Nicholas Bolognia

Billows of steam are rising from the food tents below, but you are still higher than their reaches. Comparatively the steam from your mint tea seems larger, closer to your face as you consider and reconsider drinking the still boiling water. Up here on this rooftop café the hectic square is dulled and the picturesque version of Jamaa el Fnaa is amplified. Just ten or fifteen minutes earlier you were bumbling around the open-aired center for vendors and entertainment trying to stay in tune; the drums were coming from within your head; people either staring with questionable intent or brushing past like you were an inconvenience; smells of horse manure and spicy sweets mixing pungently; wicked cackling, monkeys and snakes being forced upon you; and constantly hands outstretched, grappling for change. Marrakech is the rebel kin of Tangier: a complete assault on the senses, a provocation for that nauseating heightened feeling, like an overdose of caffeine or a squandering head-buzz. It is an overstimulation. Now, actually risen above the chaos, you are settled. The noises have muffled into a softer music, transient lulls being swept over your cheeks with the light wind. The setting sun casts a desert pink over the sky and the erect mosque is now cloaked from behind, a nightly ritual of appreciation. In the center of the square are the vendors’ tents, exclusively clad in a Tuscan red, each glowing from the fires and lighting within, the exact degree of translucence seen in the webs of your fingers when covering a flashlight. Pulsing beneath is a unique energy, one that could sweep you up and make you dance alongside the drummers or release a belly-shaking laugh at the antics of the animated story tellers encircled in their private al-halqas, but you much prefer to catch the slowed-down, diluted ripples lapping the edge of this rooftop balcony.

—Nikita Naumowicz

One thought on “Jamaa el Fnaa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *