Dried skulls…bits of rabbit skin and fur.. ground minerals from clear crystals and rocks ….dried herbs… ..broken bits of bark…mummified lizard legs…and shards of bone; were carefully broken and pinched and placed in a piece of hand written paper torn from a spiral bound exercise book and folded to encase these precious ingredients – remedies for something… and exchanged for dirham….and taken into homes where the women prepare and administer this natural medicine for their families. I’m not sure whether these were ground and burned on small charcoal burners the size of egg-cups – releasing smoke and an unpleasant aroma; or whether this concoction was brewed and drank. I will try and find out more about what the old frail medicine man sitting cross legged in on a woven mat in the dirt; whose gnarled hands carefully selects the appropriate recipe for healing; dispenses to women who queue for his knowledge.
A giant silver inflatable teapot slumped atop a van selling sweet mint tea. The only quick photograph I could take before I was yelled at aggressively to put my camera away. A cacophony of sound bombarded the marketplace on a Saturday where I walked in disbelief at the mayhem. Arabic music …. stall sellers calling on their loudspeakers yelling for business…drums and flutes and violins which hung vertically screeched in the rows of the market yesterday. It was absolute chaos and the noise was physically bombarding my body – but it was exciting, fun and absolutely fascinating – yet a weekly event here in this town and indicative of the daily bazaars which are the equivalent of our ‘shops’ and where everyone goes to purchase their ‘stuff’ every day. None of this was for tourists. This is the way of life I had stepped my boots into.
Coloured bobbin cotton reels lay beside bubble blowers; plastic bunches of flowers; shampoos; fleuro coloured underpants; baskets of sweet biscuits spilling on to dusty trestle tables; leopard skin dresses and tights draped from plastic twin and pegs; skinned half lamb carcasses hung with one testicle like a pendulum; pink plastic alarm clocks; piles of clothes mounded on plastic sheets on the ground and were being picked over like sorting through seeds; junk jewellery; spices in woven bowls; broken chunks of almond confectionary; sheep and goat heads with flies nestled into sunken eyes lay motionless on wooden benches.
An avalanche of silver pots was like a glistening sea spilling into the alleys….and they all had those little white stickers with hieroglyphic writing on them that I have seen in the Indian shops at home. I just can’t imagine how all of this stuff can be brought out and packed up every market day- that which doesn’t sell, but a vast proportion of it from what I saw is carried by the thousands of people seething through the roads and alleys on another blue sky day.
This market for me seemed insane. The noise. The smell. The number of people. The dust. The excitement. The variety of ‘stuff’ being sold. I stood in disbelief watching a donkey sale where the donkeys were being examined and stood with a rope tied fairly tightly around their front legs – not sure of the donkey quality criteria though…but they were purchased by discerning customers whist dodgem cars with people of all ages spun and collided in the background….and to the side I observed the silver teapot which started to inflate in the heat of the day and realized I was part of this fascinating chaos.