I have struggled with the decision to publish details about what happened in Djemaa el-Fna on 28 April, partly because I dont want to upset people, and partly because this is not the appropriate forum. But I committed to writing this blog - good news and bad - so I have decided to share a very small portion of my experience.
I actually started writing this blog a few days before.........
The Djemaa el-Fna (pron: Jemma elf na). What can one say about one of the most famous squares in the world that hasnt already been said?
Afternoon 1 (25 Apr): Get me out of here!! Dont touch me. Dont you dare put that hat, monkey, snake on me! No I dont want your orange juice, ostrich eggs, henna tattoos, fake handbags, t-shirts or tassles. No, Im not your honey, beautiful lady, oooooh gazelle. Please dont run me over with your petit taxi, motorbike, donkey! What do you mean "no alcohol" anywhere in the square? I cant believe your softdrink costs twice as much as the rest of the country just to sit on the bloody balcony. Damn, that African drumming is good. But I still want to be out of here before dusk!!
Evening 2 (26 Apr): Its not so bad here. No juice now, thanks. So much colour and movement. Those snake charmers are mad! Sorry, still not interested in shoes, jeballas, spices, dates, nuts or... are they cow or camel trotters? That mint looks good though - if only they sold rum I could make a mojito!! Where did these hot food stalls come from, they werent here yesterday afternoon? Sorry, Im not game enough to try your... what is that, anyway? What a gorgeous hawk! If only I understood the story his owner was telling. Damn, that African drumming is reeeeeally good. So I think I can dance! I wonder what this place looks like at night?
The next entry was meant to read:
Night 3 (28 Apr):
But I wasnt in the square that night - I had gone in just before midday, in desperate need of some cash.
After spending the morning getting lost in the medina from my Riad (guest house) and eventually making it to my intended destination, the Ben Youssef Medersa (old Koranic school), I stopped to buy some calligraphy art which left me penniless. The nearest ATM was in the square so I took the opportunity to stroll through the souks to see if there was anything I wanted to buy on the way back. There were many things I wanted to buy, like the beautiful pressed metal lamps, but nothing that was going to make it back in the suitcase.
I exited the souks into the square, next to the Argana Cafe, and walked about 150m across the square to the ATM. The lady at the ATM was phaffing about, and as I started to pull my card out of my moneybelt I heard a pop and a bang, thought someone was letting off fireworks in the square, then a massive sonic BOOM, I thought "thats not right" and as I began to turn to look I was thrust forward, then I wondered why someone had punched my arm, even though no one was behind me, then I couldnt understand why there was glass on the ground around me and why the stall of the guy next to the bank was tipped over, and why people were screaming.
I never went back to Djemaa el-Fna. I didnt get to experience it at night. I never saw the fire breathers or get to eat at the hot food stalls or get into the groove of the many musicians.
But, I get to do many other things. I am sorry for the people that were lost that day. Ive said it a number of times already this year, when Ive been on the wrong end of it, but for once I am grateful that "timing is everything".