I wrote the following piece of Creative Writing for a Rough Guides Competition, based on the theme of “home”.
The thick humid air envelops me as I step into the sun and start to wander through the town. I embrace the sweltering heat whilst I slowly begin to wind through the maze-like medina, immersing myself into the chaos. The call for prayer is melodically echoing through the town’s sand coloured walls, mosaic studded doors and dusty streets. Street sellers beckon for the attention of tourists busy fanning themselves, attempting to barter a deal with them. Women in abayas flock together, adorned with intricate henna on their hands and feet, perusing the goods that are on offer, hunting for a specific gem to add to their treasure chest of jewels. Camels grind their gaping teeth standing bored and tired, using their tails to impatiently flick flies away.
I lose track of time and meander through the souq, passing ornate stained glass chandeliers and curled toe shoes dusted in gold on either side of me. My back begins to accumulate droplets of sweat. I speak causally in Arabic to persistent street sellers who catch my attention with pleading eyes and cheeky smiles. My heart begins to soar. The language seems foreign on my tongue, yet I feel the most comfortable I’ve been in a while, hearing it around me. I don’t understand the full extent of what they’re saying but shake my head in acknowledgement anyway. I take a deep breath and smile. I feel at home.
Unlike many other blonde, blue eyed, fair skinned tourists that venture into the loud vibrant souqs of Marrakesh, I feel more comfortable here than I do walking on my way to work through rush hour in London. Here, old men smoke on street corners with aged wrinkled faces watching the world wander by with content. Here, life is at a different pace.
Spending my childhood in the Middle East has prepared me for Marrakesh. When I studied in Manchester and regularly passed through the Curry Mile, it would send me in reverie to my real home, millions of miles away, where strong perfume is lit on incense sticks and gold shops are in abundance. I crave the dry scorching heat, the wafting fumes of Shisha smoke and the crunchy yet smooth satisfying taste of hummus. I miss the rush of the souqs and the solitude of the desert.
The air hangs with excitement and buzz as the sun begins to set, exploding on the horizon in an array of colours, the shades and hues merging together as the bright stars begin to gradually appear and illuminate across the darkening night sky. I listen to my growling stomach and stop at an open air café, sitting outside, taking in my surroundings. I breathe in the fragrant aroma of lamb tagine and I vouch to order one for my dinner. I ask for the renowned Moroccan mint tea which arrives with fresh mint floating on the surface and cubes of sugar on the side. The sensation is sweet yet refreshing. I order another.