I must had fallen asleep for a few minutes because I thought I was dreaming when I heard 4 female voices speaking Spanish inside of the room. My room was a dormitory with 6 bunk beds. Lockers were small metal old boxes stacked by the door of the room. There were only 2 electricity outlets : one by my bed and one by the door. Of course I chose that bed on purpose! I opened my eyes and observed the 4 girls for a moment. Was I imagining the Spanish? No, I was not. I sat down on my bed abruptly and scared them when I spoke since they did not realize I was in the bed sleeping. I could not believe that from all the places in the world I would get to meet 4 latinas on my first day in Africa. How amazingly convenient! Their names were Monse, Natalya, Katherine and Lina and we became instant friends. They had come from the U.K on holiday but they were only in the U.K as part of a volunteer program. Natalya and Monse are from Mexico and Lina and Katherine are from Colombia. I was the only one from Peru. Guessing which country we were from became a popular game we played with the locals every time we walked the crowded alleys of the Medina in Marrakesh. Our days exploring the city were magical. We got lost so many times wandering around the colorful Moroccan streets together and we ate questionable looking foods that left us with an aftertaste of glory. Sunsets over Jaama El Fna were a daily delight served with a hot cup of over sugared Moroccan Mint Tea and sometimes with Tajine. I have to tell you about Jaama El Fna but that will be next time. That place deserves the luxury of an entire post.
The entrance of the main plaza was over crowded with carriages of horses. Our walks through that long corridor of horses was a little bit of a torture because the strong asphyxiating smell of horse droppings. At the end of the horses tunnel-like path was the main street and across the main street one could see the beautiful “El Koutoubia” Mosque standing implacably during day and shining bright at night.
The Koutoubia Mosque is the largest Mosque in Marrakesh and was completed in the late 1100’s during the caliphate of the Berber Yaqub al-Mansur . Non-Muslims are not admitted inside. We had no idea when we first tried to go in and as we did not understand Arabic we could not realize what people were saying to us. They often cut our entrance standing in front shaking with their hands the universal “NO” sign. We often observed the movement of people outside of the mosque. Sometimes we thought only certain hours were good to come by but we finally were informed that The Koutoubia Mosque does not admit non-Muslims inside, as well as many other mosques. Only a handful of them admitted non-Muslims but we were not interested on seeing those ones.
El Koutoubia locals became aware of our constant tries to infiltrate in the mosque. We were never successful. A man wandering around the Mosque asked us for money in exchange of infiltrating us inside but this time we were confident that our scarfs around our heads and our dark olive skin mixed with our black hair were going to be enough to not to raise any suspicion. We were wrong.