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magic carpet ride

The sun is beating down as I wait for my mom and dad to pick out the perfect bag of olives.  I’m in the middle of the Souk Semmarine, a maze-like market in the city of Marrakech, Morocco.  I stare up at the sky, sweat dripping from my brow, wondering if they’ll ever be done.

Suddenly, I feel a tap on my shoulder.  At first I think I’m in someone’s way.  The souk is filled with a web of narrow passages, so it’s easy for the streets to get clogged.  But when I look behind me and step to the side, there’s nothing there except for a rolled up carpet.  Weird, I think, walking a few steps further down the narrow alley.  I feel another tap and I whirl around—is the carpet following me?

magic carpet ride

Red with row after row of gold diamonds, the carpet resembles the rich-colored floor tiles I’ve seen throughout my hotel—each diamond proudly showcasing a design all its own. The carpet unrolls itself and, waving a tassel, beckons me to hop on.  It hovers a foot off the ground and I blink slowly to be sure I’m not imagining things. I look back at my family, wondering if I should stay, but they are distracted by olives. What the heck…I jump onto the carpet and we take off down the alley, so fast a shop sign almost takes off my head.  

magic carpet ride

We fly out of the souk and higher into the air.  I can no longer smell the spices, but I can see the entire city!  It reminds me of a corn maze. The carpet steers us towards a lovely green garden. 

The carpet carefully navigates the souk’s alleys.  Most of the buildings here are painted a deep red-orange color.  Every corner is filled with merchants selling their wares. The air is filled with the scent of spices, like cinnamon and cardamom.  As we dodge shoppers and tourists, I wonder how the carpet knows which way to go.  Without a tour guide, my family and I would surely have gotten lost!

A sign says this is the Jardin Majorelle.  As we descend into the garden, I see that the buildings are painted bright blue and yellow. The garden is dotted with peaceful fountains bubbling over reminding me, in this dry place, water is sacred.  We glide through a forest of towering cactuses and tall palm trees.  Deep green vines dangle above shaded paths.  Bright bougainvillea flowers crawl along the walls of the buildings.  I watch fish dart through the ponds, suddenly realizing how thirsty I am. Luckily the carpet senses my discomfort and appears at my side. I hope that, wherever we’re headed, a drink awaits!

magic carpet ride

The carpet speeds up, and I hold tight to its tassels.  We fly down low enough to the ground that I hear a tour guide announce “Welcome to the Dar El Bacha Palace!”  It’s huge!  The carpet flies through the central courtyard, and I am surrounded by orange trees.  I take in a deep breath and savor their sweet perfume.  The palace is covered in thousands of tiny mosaic tiles glistening green, gold, and blue. Together they form a beautiful pattern and I imagine what it must take to make someting so intricate—like putting together a giant puzzle. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpse a café.  We park tableside and I giggle at the thought of riding a flying carpet through the drive-thru at McDonalds. Hovering over the black and white tile floor, the carpet waits patiently as a waiter serves me a tall glass of mint tea—one of Morocco’s most popular drinks—and a bowl of orange ice cream. I gulp down the tea and then take a taste of the ice cream, savoring the blended flavors of mint and orange on my tongue.

magic carpet ride

The waiter tells me of the many famous people who have eaten here.  I imagine crowds of people in fancy attire enjoying their delicious treats following a visit to the palace, where they too stood in awe at the rainbow of tiles.  Taking my last bite, I wave goodbye as we fly up toward the clouds—still smelling the sweet scent of orange trees in the air and tasting the tangy citrus on my tongue.  

We land in the middle of a busy square that I recognize as Djemaa El Fna. It is filled with stalls shaded by green umbrellas, shopkeepers selling Moroccan treasures.  Cooks prepare steaming hot bowls of a tasty stew called harira.  Kids just like me nibble on kaab eI ghazal, a cinnamon and orange flavored sweet that looks like gazelle horns.  I hear the sizzle of food, but it’s soon blocked out by the sound of music and a growing crowd of dancers.  Men beat on drums and strum their strings to create an irresistible rhythm.  Everyone is dancing!  Even the snake charmers’ snakes slither to the beat. Three beautiful women shrouded in silk sway back and forth, the gold beads on their costumes jingling as they girate their hips. I join in, not caring that I look more like the snakes than the belly dancers.

magic carpet ride
magic carpet ride

The musicians take a break, so we head back through the alleys to the souk where my family has finally bought their olives.  I slide off the carpet, not wanting to say goodbye, but then my mom interrupts, “ Hey, we thought we might buy one of these carpets. What do you think?”

Before I can respond my dad turns to me and says, “Maybe you can help us choose,” he smiles.  “Is there one that you like best?” 

I wink at my magical friend, “I know just the carpet!” I exclaim, happy to be taking home the best souvenir in Morocco.

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