Nov. 15th, 2009

notyourmonkey: (Default)
(First, please allow me to vent. My blackberry has not worked the entire time I've been in Morocco, never mind that it worked beautifully in the middle of the ocean north of the Arctic Circle this March. I called tech support when I landed a week ago. I finally got an email from them yesterday, in which they were snippy because I had already checked out of my first hotel like I told them I would. Now today they have given me three options: 1) have I tried turning it off then turning it back on again? 2) could I just use someone else's phone and put my sim card in that? and 3) download new software from the internet, which I cannot connect to because my phone doesn't work.

Fine. I just won't talk to anyone the entire time I'm here. That's sad for family, but it makes me physically nauseous to think about work. ::deep breathes::)

So today started off with a leisurely breakfast on the terrace overlooking the mountains, and I finally drifted out of the riad around 10:30. On Lawrence's recommendation, I popped into the spa down the street and arranged some sort of ridiculous three hour extravagance for tomorrow. There will be scrubbing and masks and foot massages and baths with rose petals and more mint tea than I can shake a stick at. Am ridiculously eager.

After that, I browsed the Centre Artisinale - the one fixed price shop in the medina, I think - to get a feel for prices, and then I dove into the souks. It was relatively sedate in the main square - the Jemaa el Fna - so I meandered up the side streets. This place is immense, and with a decent sense of direction you can eventually get where you want to go, but there's no such thing as a direct route.

I ended up in a little jewelry shop and contemplated some egregiously overpriced pendants, but I stood my ground and left without being wrangled into buying something. Noureddine and his cousin Hamza brought me tea, and I chalked the whole thing up to A Life Experience.

A little meander further, I got swept up by Rachid the BerberTM, who insisted he was not a guide but just an artisan on his day off, he didn't want any money. He said he was going to the tanneries, which is where I was vaguely interested in going, so I didn't ditch him. (I will say that for all the hassle - and it was immense - I never once felt like I would be in serious trouble if I got loud or forceful in my desire to be left alone.) Rashid toured me through the tanneries, gave me mint to ward off the smell of pigeon shit (and many other, less desirable scents OMG), and "conveniently" showed me to the stores of the tanneries, "no pressure to buy, whatever you want, so long as you are happy I am happy, you leave with smiles."

The last place actually had a carpet that was the right size and the right style for me, in my vague carpet contemplations. The initial price was 2500 dirhams, and my guidebook said 1500 dirhams was a decent price. I walked out of there for 700 dirhams. I don't think my bargaining skilz are that mad, so I think I just got lucky. I'll take it, though.

On the way back I got lost five or six times, got stalked by a herd of eight year old boys who kept trying to get my attention and touch me but who were run off by older men, got extensively propositioned by a gentleman named Kamal who wanted to give me his card in case I changed my mind about meeting up with him this evening, almost went to the Baadi palace (or possibly the Saadian tombs), got a head massage and spice demonstration from a dude who started off by, "uh, wow. you look like you need water," (which was totally true), went the wrong way around the royal palaces (which, as you might guess, are large), and finally shuffled back to my hotel, where eighty meters from the entrance I picked up yet another eight year old, who insisted I pay him for showing me the way I already knew. (I didn't end up paying him or Rashid the BerberTM, as I asked for neither of their help and ended up buying stuff from Rashid's buddies. I feel mostly okay about this.)

Now I have to figure out what I'm doing for dinner. Something smells amazing nearby. (Unlike my shoes after the tanneries oh. my. god.)
notyourmonkey: (Default)
Yet once again, in yet another strange city, I have managed to undertake a relatively straightforward operation (go to dinner in a square I visited earlier in the day) and turn it into a trip to Parts Of Town What I Should Not Visit On My Own. When I mentioned to Lawrence where I'd gone and how swiftly the catcalls had gotten ugly, his eyes got enormous.

I mean, a week in Morocco and a full day wandering the souks - I'm used to a little hassle. I'm used to every third car or bike honking at me. I'm used to the "hey pretty lady" and "bonsoir" from what feels like three out of every four men (or little boys as the case may be) I pass or who passes me. I'm used to a polite smile and walking with purpose or just ignoring and walking (faster) with purpose as the situation calls for.

What I'm not used to is for every other catcall to turn into "fat whore" or "ugly slut" or other things that really don't bear repeating. I kept walking further and further, and things got less and less comfortable (though nothing actually physically threatening, and how sad is it that nothing short of 'physically threatening' is something to take especial notice of?), and I checked my map behind a truck so no one could see me not sure of where I was, and eventually I asked two policemen to confirm that I was still headed in the right direction (Time Out Guides maps = not exactly to scale, can I just say). The directions were straightforward enough: right out of the hotel down the main road, then right when that road deadends. Simple, right? (No.)

When I got to the square, I still couldn't find the entrance (signs, people. they help.), but as luck would have it, the lamp guy I had talked to earlier in the day was still there, and he herded me away from some of the more aggressive "helpers" straight to the restaurant door. It was gorgeous inside, and I had the strangest assortment of food (samosas shaped like spring rolls, actually really good sushi - fresh and tightly rolled, and chocolate fondue) that was nevertheless delicious. When it was time to head back, Lamp Guy flagged me down a taxi, for which I was egregiously overcharged (almost seven dollars!), but it was worth every penny in the end.

My hotel is tucked away at the end of an alley, and it is blissfully quiet and well-lit. I used my key to get in, but Lawrence was headed down for a smoke, so we chatted for a bit. He and Peter (brothers or "brothers"? hard to tell in Morocco, where many things are illegal) have been in Marrakech for fifteen years, and before that, Lawrence lived in Thailand for eight years. I also learned all about his rabies treatment after a dog bit him in Bangkok (Lawrence's doctor friend - "oh, it bit you below the knee? well, you have at least two days before you have to worry about your brain getting infected!"), some of the artifacts they've decorated the house with, etc. It seems that there's a little something with some sort of history from either Asia or Morocco tucked in every nook and cranny of this house.

There was chatting and discussion of breakfast ("we'll serve until at least eleven-thirty; don't hurry out of bed on our account!"), and Lawrence declared me "faaaabulous," and now I'm back at the computer, contemplating a shower and how exactly I'm going to get the pair of sneakers I wore today back home. They really, really smell like the tanneries.


notyourmonkey: (Default)

May 2013

5678910 11

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 11:34 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios