Marrakech is an exciting place. The energy is hotter than the temperatures (someone tried to tell me it was 45 degrees today–113F–but I don’t believe it). It actually rained a bit today, just sprinkles, but every drop was welcome. I spent the morning walking, trying, not very hard, to find a government center where craftspeople sell their wares. Instead I walked right into the most remarkable deja vu experience of my life.
In Tunis a few years ago I was standing outside the medina, the enclosed market center of the city. A man came up to me claiming that he knew me from the hotel where I was staying. I didn’t recognize him but to be courteous I pretended I did. He offered to shepherd me into the (intimidating) medina. I accepted. Strangely enough he ended up introducing me to his friend who owned a rug store. The owner wined and dined me, courting me with sweet tea, while his henchman flung out rug after rug till I saw one that dazzled me. I bought it. It lies now in the upstairs room of my friend Doug. I had a devil of a time getting it back to the states but I managed to squeeze it into my backpack.
Today the exact same thing happened. A friendly young fellow on a motorcycle offered to show me the tannery district, part of Marrakech’s medina. In Tunis the place was covered, here it was open to the sky.
He led me a ways till he handed me off to another guy who introduced me to Abdul, the boss of the bedouin tannery. Abdul treated me to a guided tour of the places where camel and cow skins are turned into leather. It was very interesting. Then he showed me his store. It was almost identical to the one in Tunis, two floors of rugs and other gaudy merchandise–handbags, coats, silver goblets, scarves. Out came the sweet tea and the henchman to fling down the rugs. I bought two this time, one for me. They are being shipped to Oakland this time.
The heat was too intimidating for me to spend any time walking in the afternoon so I headed back to my room to rest till 4:00. I eventually found the craftspeople but bought nothing. I had dinner at an open-air food bazaar. Picture a typical flea market but instead of used bicycle tires you find arrays of food and tables for you to sit and enjoy. Your heartbeat increases just being in this place. But the couscous was mediocre sorry to say.
Tomorrow I meet the people on my tour. I found out today that we don’t actually start tomorrow, it’s just a get-to-know-you kind of day. And we don’t officially meet till 5pm. I wish I’d known that before.