September 11, 2007
I arrived into Marrakech last night with enough time to explore Place Jemaa Fna – the main square out here with action of all
kinds – storytelling, snake charmers, food vendors, guys dancing and spinning their tassels on their hats, guys with monkeys,
Today it was time to head into the souks. I made my first (and hopefully only) purchase – a couple of small tagines for salt and
pepper and a matching vase.
While walking through the square, a guy wanted me to pet his monkey. I turned down the offer.
I went to the Musee de Marrakech. I actually really enjoyed an exhibit by an American artist Lori Parks. Quite beautiful and
I also took advantage of the patisseries in town. Patisserie de Princes definitely scored some high marks in my book.
Then I decided for a bit of tranquility by going to a garden called Jardin Majorelle. It’s hard to believe that a place can be so
relaxing (with the exception of the large tour groups that eventually came in) while there is so much chaos on the other side of
the walls. The garden had benches where I lazed away for a bit. I loved it.
The sun was on its way to making its departure for the day. This is the point where I went to a restaurant terrace in Jemaa
Fna to watch day turn into night. Snake charmers, dancers and guys with monkeys are out in full force at this time. Food
vendors are setting up their stalls. It’s a scene that you can lose hours watching.
But I had a hammam appointment to get to.
After shedding all of my old skin thanks to a woman who was scrubbing-mitt happy, I decided to head to a nice restaurant for
some Moroccan cuisine. The atmosphere was beautiful, though it would have been nice to have some company.
Enter solo guy seated right next to me about fifteen minutes later.
He heard me speaking English to somebody and then struck up some conversation. I thought it would be easier to chat while
sitting at the same table so I invited him over. So much for my detox week as we ended up going through several half-bottles
of wine. Not only did we close the restaurant down, we apparently also closed the Marrakech medina down. At 1:00am, there
were zero options of things to do. He walked me home and we have agreed to meet up tomorrow to wander around Marrakech.
September 12, 2007
I have the hangover that keeps on giving today. It wasn’t so bad when I woke up…but it has gotten progressively worse. In
hindsight, I probably should have drunk some water last night. Why couldn’t I just not drink while being in a Muslim country?
I guess I deserve this.
September 13, 2007
After grabbing lunch with Ethan, we headed out to see a palace. We didn’t really know anything about the palace. We just knew
that there was a palace and it was recommended to us by our fellow riad people. And so we went.
As the story goes, we arrived during hours which it was closed. A man informed us that it would open again at 3:00 pm. He
also recommended that we go in a certain direction to check out the Jewish Quarter. The Jew in me was down for that. I
pointed out to Ethan that maybe it is possible to seek advice on the streets, after all, without people expecting anything for it.
I spoke too soon.
We heard a voice and the man had followed us so that he could ‘show’ us wear to go. I told him we didn’t have any dirhams to
give. He said he didn’t want money - he was a doctor.
And by the end of the day, he would simply be known to me and Ethan as ‘The Spice Doctor’.
He led us through a doorway that we would have never even thought to enter. We went down the narrow streets and he was
explaining the area to us. Ethan and I now looked at each other like “We’re sooo being taken.” But we went along for the ride.
We couldn’t really understand anything he was saying. The only thing I understood was that Jewish people lived here in 1780.
Now we arrived at his house. We met his wife and two sons. We were then told to sit on the couch. He starts pulling out spice
after spice after spice (after tea leaves after flowers, etc.). He showed us pictures in an old Winnie the Pooh photo album. He
showed us business cards and addresses of many of the past people who had come to his house (i.e. our fellow suckers). He
gave us partial facials. His wife was ready to henna our hands - I gave a quick ‘No, merci.’ By the end, Moustafa had pulled
every last jar and container off of his shelf. Ethan, being the chef he is, figured he could use a few spices and figured the spice
cost inflation was worth it for the entertainment we were just given.
He also asked us if we had coins from our countries. He had a little collection going. I found some American, English and Chilean
coins to give. He almost never saw these as his son had them grasped in his hand. He eventually surrendered them.
After tea, Ethan was negotiating a price for what he had agreed to purchase. His spices were 135 dirham. Moustafa wanted to
throw in the facial stuff – he told us it was 50 dirham. But, if Ethan were to buy both, he would give it to him for the price of
200 dirham. I think my friend’s children could even know that that was far from a deal. But you have to face it…the man was
We were now heading out. It was over an hour later. When we left, his son had taken the coin collection and hidden it. When his
dad found it, he was still trying to pocket some of these coins.
As Ethan later said… “Like father, like son.”
As for the Palais Badii…we went, we saw, we left. We had no idea what we were really looking at. We basically did a lap,
admired all of the rooftop satellite dishes and were on our way.
After stumbling across one of the best spice souks in town, we ended up in front of the Palais Bahia. Since we were there, we
might as well go in. Right? This was sort of like a palace that kept on giving. We have no idea what type of furniture, etc. used
to be housed in the rooms…but, boy, were there a lot of rooms! The detail of each one never fails to blow me away. Even if by
the tenth square it was all seeming a bit monotonous, it was still monotonously impressive.
In the beginning of the day when Ethan asked if there was anything I wanted to do, there was one thing I said with certainty.
I wanted to take my picture with a monkey in the main square. Touristy? For sure. But these little guys were too cute to pass
up. Sadly, none of them were wearing diapers like the day before. But I found Coco the monkey. Coco moved from my arm up
to the top of my head. Yes, I had a monkey butt on my head. Thankfully Ethan waited until after to tell me that monkeys lack
the sphincter that controls their bowel movements making it so that they can just go at any time. So I guess the diapers weren’
t just for decoration…
We moved on to Café Arabe. Perfect place to watch the sunset. Expensive but perfect (as drinks were 9 Euros each). So much
for a week of wine detox. The atmosphere was perfect and we ended up hanging out there well into the night.
Not a bad way to spend my last full night in Marrakech…
Place Jamaa Fna..
The sun setting over Marrakech.