Once upon a time the main square of Marrakech was filled with story tellers. Old men who, with their bare words, were able to captured masses of people by painting pictures through ancient tales. These tales had travelled through villages. They are capturing a world full of adventures and travel. They were carried through generations. In these tales the good triumphs over evil.
I love to listen to stories. I remember the time being a girls scout and spending evenings in front of the fireplace in a hundred year old peasant house at a river in Småland, listening to our teacher reading stories so capturing that we could not fall asleep. Just like Scheherazade captured her king for one thousand and one night. Everyone who ever watched a video with me in the evening knows I never manage to stay awake. But a good storyteller keeps my eyes open. Good stories has this power on me.
Story-telling in Morocco is as old as the hills, and as ancient as the Atlas mountains. In a country where 40% (bbc)of the population can not read the spoken word is highly important. The Moroccan tales are not only about entertainment. It is just as much about of conveying ideas, values and philosophies.
But all this is under threat. While there used to be 20 or so halakis in Marrakech, there are now only about half a dozen and they are all old men.
The power of storytelling is not forgotten. It has just changed. Today only one or two storytellers are left on the Place Jema El-Fna in Marrakech. Today we have better things to do than listen to stories. Morocco has tv. And youtube videos.
This is how I met Andrea, the owner of AnaYela, the second Riad where I stayed in Marrakech. Because Andrea also loves stories. She has started to collect stories, and hired a man to write down the stories at the square in Marrakech.
I went to stay at her Riad in November. It was a perfect month to visit Marrakech – not to hot, but not wet. AnaYela is a perfect riad for a romantic trip to the city. The Riad is offering 5 rooms. AnaYela is located a bit further away from the central square, but this also then allows you to walk through the small streets and loose yourself in the daily life in the Medina, something I liked. It is also very close to the YSL garden.
Andrea and her collegues has done a great job renovating the old riad. I love how the have kept areas of old tiles, and they have set a modern twist on the rooms (adding a lot of white and grey), without destroying the traditional forms – which I liked. The bathtubs are huge.