Magical, magnificent, a festival of Berber folklore, plus much more. That is how the Fantasia at Chez Ali is described in the brochure. In reality it can be an over whelming clash of music and costume, sound and colour, pageant and parade. A show for the tourists who consider themselves worthy of better and above it all, or just a great evening of fun. What can’t be denied are the magnificent settings, sheer organisation and spectacle?
Originated from the Rif, the Fantasia is an ancient war ceremony which consist of opposing groups of horsemen; each represents the best riders of its tribe. The climax of the display being a full charge of horses with riders standing high in the saddle, rifles held aloft and a simultaneous, thunderous weapon discharge. But before the arena display, there are dancers, musicians, acrobats, and magicians who ply their skills with genuine enthusiasm…..all this while the “guests” dine on a 5 course feast under huge opulent tents.
Over the years, Fantasia’s renown has spread and tours world wide…….But today it was to be the highpoint of the Funsters visit to Marrakech. Again the mini-bus collected all from the campsite and slipped into the night….Yes. this was to be a late one. Located on the outskirts of the city you will find Chez Ali after a maze of tracks, by-ways and past dimly lit villages. Finally, through pillars of fire you find yourself on open ground heading towards a distant neon and smoke…...Between an alley of mounted Berbers and through a great archway you pass before trumpets wail and drums beat……..Welcome to the Fantasia!
Did the crowds turn up to see the festival or had they heard that the Funsters were in town…….either way neither were not to be disappointed. Linda promptly jumped on a camel, topped with a sort of throne affair, and paraded around the arena. Cameras flashed and the audience cheered…….Who was this strange women? The dismissive wave from the wrist! Royalty surely?
Jan gave a display of belly dancing, much to the approval of the experts and audience alike…..Rumour has it that Geo did a turn or two with one of the dance troupes……As has been throughout the tour the Funsters lived up to their name approaching all with an open and enthusiastic mind.
The evening drew to a close with the Sultan and his favourite soaring over the heads of the crowds on their flying carpet, followed by a brief but none the less spectacular firework display.
It was an evening worthy of the Thousand and One Nights theme and a splendid one to draw the tour to a near close. Ahead was just the coastal motorway drive back to mainland Spain……..But these were the Funsters, so there had to be more………..
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