Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Exploring the Medina at Marrakesh

My roommate David and I left to the old part of the city while it was still cool (85 degrees). We were looking to buy traditional souvenirs and talk to various people along the way. The day was gorgeous so we embarked on our adventure. A few blocks into in our walking tour, we stopped at a regular shopping center like the ones we have in the USA-Levi, Adiddas, etc. I was looking for the Moroccan national soccer jersey. Every time I visit a country, I buy the national soccer jersey. Within the shopping center, we went into three stores. Not one of them carried the jersey. I was curious about the 501s. They c0st $1,690 dh which translates into a little over $200 dollars. That got us refocused real quick.

Onward we went until we arrived to the market place. We spent the whole day in this area yesterday but we were limited to what we could do. So, we were ready to navigate the windy alleys through the Medina. We made periodic stops to buy delicious fruit. David got a great deal on Argon oil and harissa powder. Harissa paste is spicy and it tastes so good. I can't wait to have them with chilaquiles. As we meandered deeper into the market, we saw a hole-in-the wall barber shop. Since we will be in the Sahara in a couple of days, I suggested we get a trim. We went inside and had a great time practicing our broken Arabic with the kind barbers. We spent over an hour talking and laughing. We left because we hadn't even started to shop for what we went to get and we had to be back at the hotel by 2:30 so we could go to a museum.

Anyway, we continued to the Souka. I thought I knew of a short cut and David suggested another direction. A local guide very strongly suggested which way to proceed. I know how these guides work based on my experience in Tangier. I brushed him aside and he went ballistic. We got in my face and yelled at me in Arabic. This slight detour did not last long. Again, we proceeded to look for the sandals and jersey. By the time we got to the Souka, it was over a 100 degrees. We went in and out of shops but could not find a jersey for me and David could not settle on sandals. It’s a good thing we ran into a music store where David picked up an array of Moroccan hip-hop.

We were so thirsty by now. We saw the square where the snake charmers, monkey dancers, henna artists and other people prey on tourists. Off to the sides were orange juice vendors. We eagerly headed in that direction and quenched our thirst with the ice cold, freshly squeezed juice. We talked to the vendor having a great time. I am convinced David will be fluent by the end of our study tour. By now we were hungry so we left to enjoy more delicious chicken Tajin. It was an adventure zigzagging away trying to avoid the various vendors until we got to Mohammad V Avenue. David and I had a great time talking about the exciting 4 hours on our way to the Ryad hotel.

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