Sunday, May 1, 2011

Terror in Jemaa el-Fna

I was horrified when I saw the article in the news on Friday that accompanied this picture. Terrorists have bombed Cafe Argana in Marrakech's Place Jemaa el-Fna.

Terror in Marrakech
A year ago, I stood right where the red truck is in the photo. I was excited, early into my Great Odyssey, and thrilled to be meeting my guide there who would be leading what turned out to be an amazing trek into the Sahara. Today, they are cleaning up the remains of 12 innocent people, including two Canadians, killed by a bomb filled with nails and intended to murder Western tourists. I feel terrible for those lost, their families and their friends. I'm sad for humanity and am fraught with the realization that both alegría and terror can occur all in one small place, separated only by time.

My experiences in Marrakech were ones that I'll recall fondly for the rest of my life. At the time, I wrote this in my story about my visit to Marrakech. The minaret I mentioned is the one in the picture, behind the shattered remains of Cafe Argana.
"The epicenter of the medina is Place Jemaa el Fna, the main square. During the day, faux guides, touts, monkey handlers and snake charmers ply their trade in return for a few Dirhams. In the evening, the place absolutely teems with life and I can easily see how it might be a little overwhelming on the senses for many Westerners. It felt very exotic last night, as the sunset turned the terracotta colored Minaret at the back of the square a rich golden red. Tribal drums beat constantly, intermingled with the rhythmic, whining wail of horns played by the snake handlers and the putt putt vroom of those ever-present, exhaust-spewing mopeds. By sunset the food merchants had set up their carts and the square became a medieval midway of sorts, with all manner of hucksters, storytellers, tooth-pullers, henna artists, and kif dealers offering their services throughout the square."
Article about my visit to Marrakech
Article about my trek to the Sahara
I'll go back one day. No terrorist can change that.

Place Jemaa el-Fna. Cafe Argana is to the left of the minaret.