In the narrow streets of Marrakech’s Medina, merchants hang rugs from slanted walls, pharmacists display pyramid heaps of hibiscus, poppy seeds and mint leaves, and fruit stalls offer fresh orange juice for four dirham (0,40 Euro).
To tourists, the Medina is a scenic shopping roller coaster. But the Medina’s traders face great challenges to get their goods through the serpentine streets.
Houses angle towards the streets, bearing down on people below. Merchants sit smoking in front of stalls, their stools encroaching on the little space left. Finally, the throng of Marrakchi making their way to work, of tourists stalling to take pictures, and of uniformed children walking hand in hand to school, definitively rule out the possibility of motorised lorries delivering goods to the Medina traders.
Luckily, there’s the bicycle.
Throughout the Medina, bicycle bells accompany the sound of prayers issued from the mosque minarets. Bicycles shoot through the streets and cyclists seem to be absorbed – eaten up, almost – by the crowds.
In the Medina, bicycles ensure goods get there on time; in a way a car couldn’t. And so, the bicycle has won the hearts of nearly all merchants in Marrakech.
Only a few merchants have not adopted the bicycle; not because they do get deliveries by car, but because they prefer mules.