Thursday, March 20, 2014

3/9/14 Day 52 Marrakech

We have arrived, perhaps the city is still asleep this early in the morning but we are ready to see what Morocco has to offer. First thing is to navigate a city that uses script rather than letters, I mean it is a beautiful written language no doubt, but it feels like Tetris matching the shapes up together. Miraculously we made it to meet Salman after a quick confirmation call, and roughly an hour walk from the train station to the more residential area of the city. After a morning chat and some relaxation Salman and his roommate Rashid surprise us with breakfast, Mesemen, which is kind of like a crepe crossed with a pancake and can be eaten with butter, honey, jam or eggs and is made fresh and can be found anywhere. They also brewed us our first pot of Moroccan Mint Tea, a new love of mine! We hung out with Salman and his girlfriend Hasna, and Rashid until the early afternoon. Hasna is from a village in the Southwest of Morocco, very close to the country of Western Sahara and she is an amazing intellectual who wants to be a writer. She is also a follower of Western culture and chooses not to wear the traditional headscarf or be treated with any Muslim traditions. It is very interesting to meet someone who has so much desire to be unlike their own culture and more like our culture.  In the late afternoon we decided to finally head to the medina and walk through some of the souks and experience all the colors! You can find anything and everything it seems in the souks with shops organized in a supposed organization, of which I am unconvinced. We just wandered and continued to get ourselves as lost as possible, turns out it is pretty easy to do. At one point we were invited to visit a tannery with one of the locals. Knowing that it was a scheme for them to make some money but not knowing how they intended to go about it, we followed. We were passed off to two different people who were conveniently "going that direction" and we could follow to the tannery. They led us around in a maze of circles until finally we arrived and were handed off to a man working there who greeted us with mint to combat the smell of rotting flesh and pigeon droppings harmoniously brewing together. He  said something in Arabic to his friend/partner/feels sketchy and then continued explaining to us the process and showing us around the dull colored tanks and inviting us to take pictures. He offered to take us to the other side of the factory where all the colorful dying tanks are located, still nervous and on edge we slowly followed across the alley. We had walked half way there and a woman, maybe 50 came storming out with an obviously newly acquired busted lip, locking eyes with us, "take care" was all she said, she was closely followed by her flustered husband who was followed by one of the men working in the tannery. Kevin and I didn't need another second, not even a shared glance, in unison we turned on our heels and were outside of the alley before she was, quickly disappearing in the opposite direction. It would be impossible to know for sure what happened but being aware while traveling is as important of an aspect as trying the local food. We are aware that Moroccan's occasionally expect money in return for tourist attractions and may possibly get a bit aggressive when they don't get paid. This woman was one of the more extreme cases I have personally heard of, but badgering is common and I am proud to be overly cautious and aware at times like these. 
Mesemen is delicious and cheap only 3 dirhams served fresh with honey, so delicious
The woodcraft is amazing and they specialize in what they call magic boxes, which are opened with a specific and difficult combination of steps that produce a hidden key and hidden keyhole. Most shops will offer you a free box if you can figure it out in a minute or so. Go to the first shop learn how to do it and then let another shop challenge you and you can get a free box. 
All the shoes
Jars and jars of solid perfume, dyes and spices. 
The poor little chameleons just aren't fast enough to escape capture and sale. We saw a girl on the ferry with one on her head, I am sure he has much better places to be. It is sad that they are sold as pets so carelessly.
Henna by the kilo
All the laughing cow you could ever want, need and certainly eat. 
The fresh juice here is out of this world and cheap. Love it! .80 cent carrot juice perhaps. 
Here is the first area of the tannery and as far as we got, no pretty colors, only foul smells and drab colors. 

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