We took a car instead of plane to Marrakech today, it was an easy 3.5 hours and mostly a straight road. Once we arrived at the Medina, we had to walk the rest of the way because the cab couldn’t really fit down the streets. I ended up getting hustled by some kids who helped lead us there, only gave them 20 dirhams, but they wanted 200. The streets were super interesting. Small, covered, and filled with vendors.
This afternoon we stuck close by but found some good things. I got an oil lamp (that I’m hoping contains a genie) and some stress inhalers filled with eucalyptus. Then we were pulled into a rug store. We of course were offered tea, asked where we were from, told we were welcome, told we would get a special price, told we were family and all the other sales techniques these folks have mastered. Kristi found a few rugs and I bought two poofs. The nice thing about this place is that they’ll ship them for you, and they had a shipping book to see all the other places they’ve successfully shipped.
After shopping I went for a manicure. I was glad to see they sent someone to walk me there because I certainly would have never found it. When I got back we had some dinner and enjoyed a Moroccan song and dance that was happening in the dinner area. Of course, it didn’t take much convincing for me to get up and join them. We sat and talked with this guy from New Mexico, Davis and his friend from Finland for a bit longer before calling it a night.
We had only gotten a taste of what the Medina had to offer so today was going to be all about exploring it more. I desperately needed cash since most places didn’t take credit card. I said I was going to run to the ATM quick, but that turned out to be a lie. I didn’t have data, so I attempted to just walk in the direction I thought one was and hope I made it. I was pointed in the wrong direction by people a couple of times (in hopes that I would stop at their store instead), I was offered to be walked there a couple times (which I mostly denied), and then eventually caved and turned on my phone. The phone certainly saved me a lot of time, but it probably also saved me from some good stories that could have come from me getting lost in the Medina. On the way back I picked up my laundry that I had dropped off the day before and waited 25 minutes as the man nicely folded each piece individually (fortunately he didn’t take that care on my underwear).
Kristi joined me and we started to walk around towards what we thought was the “big square”. It was great looking at all of the beautiful goods being sold, but even the slightest glance was noticed by the storeowner and you then would be greeted in what they thought was your language (I received a lot of Hola’s) and told that you could “look for free”. If I was interested, it then turned into a negotiating game (which I hate) but the good old walk away trick usually worked. I ended up buying a pair of pointy house shoes (which I plan to use for regular shoes), a dress/shirt that I plan to wear for our camel ride, a leather fanny pack belt, and some candy coated nuts. Kristi bought a nice lamp and she was asked how many camels it would be to marry her, we weren’t sure what the going rate was but we think we could have gotten at least 10. We stopped for lunch in the big square, and since we were sick of Tajine, I opted for a Mexican Salad. Note to self–don’t order Mexican in Morocco. The salad was not good, so I ate more table bread. Another note to self–steal butter packets from hotel and bring with you.
In the afternoon I went for a 90 minute Hamman and massage for only $45. (I did not do the traditional one). The Hamman was fantastic! They put me in this steaming hot room and I lied down on a bench (on a yoga mat which I was hoping the hot water sanitized). She began to throw buckets of hot water on me, followed by oiling me me, followed by a very intense scrub, more oil and then another hot water wash. She even washed my hair at the end. The scrubbing was intense, but never painful, and my skin was SO soft afterwards. Then I was brought to another room where I had an okay massage. The rest of the evening was spent hanging out at the hostel and packing a day pack for our desert excursion tomorrow! How to pack for the desert?! Having written this afterwards, I can tell you I made a few wrong turns.