Marrakech, The Riad Nafis

Another turn and then a dead end with a wooden door in the wall but nothing to indicate that this might be our destination.  He knocked and someone inside approached and let us in.  Here was a complete contrast to the medley of noise and confusion outside with an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity in a tiny five room guest house with an inner courtyard and a swimming pool with floating candles. This was the Riad Nafis and it was immediately charming and delightful.  We had chosen well and Laurent, the owner, introduced us to the staff, allocated us our rooms and showed us around, which didn’t take long because it was only a small place after all.

We had selected a Riad for our accommodation because we wanted to stay inside the walls of the old towns rather than in the modern corporate hotels of the new city on the other side of the walls. The Nafis looked perfect and had good guest reviews and we were not disappointed.  We had excellent rooms on the first floor with internal balconies overlooking the pool, nicely furnished bedrooms and big bathrooms.

As it was our first night we had chosen to eat at the Riad this evening and on the open air terrace a table had been prepared for us so after we had settled in and Laurent had given us all the advice that we could possibly need for a four day stay we made our way to the top and settled down for evening meal.  Being in an Arab Muslim country we had been concerned about the availability of alcohol and had brought some with us just in case but, and I don’t want to sound like an alcoholic here, we were relieved to find that the Nafis had a licence to serve beer and wine so we ordered the local varieties and then had an excellent first meal of Moroccan salad, chicken tagine and a fruit pastry desert.

It had been a long day and there was a lot to do tomorrow so we didn’t stay up late but went to bed looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

Unfortunately no one told us about the adhan which is the Islamic call to prayer, recited by a man called the Muezzin at various times of the day and starting it seems in the middle of the night.  In total the adhan is called out in every mosque five times a day, traditionally from a minaret, summoning Muslims for mandatory prayers and the main purpose behind the multiple loud pronouncements of every mosque is to make available to everyone an easily understood summary of Islamic belief.

In the old days this would have been done by the man with the loudest voice shouting from the highest window but now it is done with the help of loudspeakers and there was no way of sleeping through this.  From the top of the highest Mosque, the Koutoubia, it went on for about ten minutes and there was a lot of activity in the Riad as the young staff woke up and scampered to the roof with their prayer mats to join in.

It was about five o’clock and it was difficult to sleep soundly again after that and anyway Kim was excited about getting out onto the streets with her camera so after an hour or so I gave in and agreed to join her.


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