If the sellers in the Souk are pushy, the Jemaa el Fna is a downright terrifying place. I had been told there were pretty restaurants and cafes surrounding a lovely square. It's not pretty. It's a giant slab of concrete surrounded by far from picturesque buildings. On arrival I saw a chap sitting with a few snakes including a cobra. I love snakes and asked if he would mind if I took some photos. He then put one around my neck- great, and of course we planned to give him some money. But he demanded 300 dirhams, and we were quickly surrounded by 3 of his colleagues all shouting "you give us 300 dirhams for our family." We gave him 50 dirhams- pretty generous for a few photos- and they continued to shout at us and insult us as we walked away.
A few steps further and a very old woman grabbed my hand. And held it so tightly that I couldn't break free. A younger woman came up and quickly started to put henna on my left hand- with me saying "no" and still trying to break away. I realised that the hand she was pulling was the hand with my wedding and engagement ring on- and it was the rings that they were trying to remove. I got away, rings still on my finger.....but they were still shouting and demanding money, for the henna I didn't want.
This all happened in broad daylight- not in the evening.
I will be writing other reports about our stay in Marrakech in the next few days- sadly most of them bad experiences.
I would add that I have lived in both Yemen and Egypt, so am very used to Arab culture. But I have never experienced violence like this, anywhere. Very, very disappointing.
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