Morocco is hot. It was hot when we got here, and it will be hot when I leave tomorrow. It has not dipped below the benchmark 40 C / 100 F the entire time we’ve been here, including at night, and we have seen no Moroccan clouds except for a four minute rain splatter as we entered Fez that made it worse. Humidity up, temperature relentless.
Marrakech has been the hottest though, the air aggressively still, any occasional breezes are oven blasts that suck the moisture off your eyes. If you aren’t squinting from the sun, you will from the heat. Tourists walk around with pinched red faces, shiny at the temples.
It is Ramadan, when Muslins fast all day, not even allowed to drink water. I seriously wonder about the number of deaths by dehydration. Taking pictures of people is never appreciated here, and it seems that this prohibition is even stronger during Ramadan, so I apologize for the utter lack of images of the old women sitting along the side of the street in vibrantly colored robes, lined and storytelling faces sometimes visible beneath their hijab, the traditional headscarf that nearly all women wear, or often just their dark eyes looking steadily at the world through the narrow gap of a veil.
Any streets that survive the dead heat of the day come alive at night. The air becomes hazy with the exhaust of motor bikes, ridden by sleeveless young men with shining hair and reflective sunglasses, or rigid figures of women in full robes and veil, gorgeous vibrant colors flashing past, blue orange green in front of the tan and brown walls. Turgid water seeps between cobblestones after shopkeepers soak the area in front of their storefronts to damp down the dust and cool the pavement’s hot grudge of sunlight.
Crowds perambulate, darting eyes at each other and the piles of goods lining the narrow twisting streets, sheets heaped with pajama pants, plastic bags of individually packaged pairs of socks, a table heaped with abandoned Reeboks and lightly worn Nikes. Strings of leather sandals hang from awnings in the noisy light of bare incandescent light bulbs, reflected across the narrow street in murky glass panels of display cases filled with Moroccan pastries sticky in honey saturation. By day any open cases vibrate with yellow jacket ecstasy.
Tables loaded with incense, stuffed lizards, and crystals often hold a silver or ceramic chalice, burning smoke that liberates frankincense and myrrh from biblical irrelevance and makes them a tangible part of the air alongside the formaldehyde buzz of the olive stands and the rancid guano stink of the chicken pens, all over the base note of human sweat.