Sunday 7/12- Marrakech, Morocco

I wish I was a better writer.  It's hard for me to put my impressions of Marrakech on paper.  My initial reaction when getting here is that everyone has his or her hand out.  That's basically because everyone has their hand out, from the time we arrived through tonight.   On the other hand we felt "safe".  Even walking through the market, with the rush of people, we never felt in danger.

If you could get beyond the idea of the outstretched hand, the people were quite pleasant.  There appears to be only a small middle class.   As you walk through the market, little children come up to you with an outstretched hand.  On our first night, when we went out to dinner, we "bargained" with our cab driver.  You MUST do this.  We settled on 100 dirhams round trip.   When we got to the restaurant, I was about to give him 50 dirhams (about 10 to the dollar) but he told me that I could pay him the entire amount when he picked us up.   No need to pay now.  Obviously this surprised me.  He gave me his card and last night we had him called and he picked us up to go to a French restaurant that Sharon & Judy picked out. 

We drove up and down some pretty grimy streets, suddenly stopping.  I looked out and hoped that this was NOT where we were going to eat.   We were met at what could best be described as an alley entrance by a guy who told us to follow him.  Walking down this dark rather narrow alley was, strangely, not uncomfortable.  It wasn't just me.  I asked and Sharon, Bill and Judy felt the same.  We got to a locked door, the guy who we followed knocked, and we went in to what could only be described as a beautiful restaurant.  Not in a modern sense but in a sense of beautiful taste.  The walls were high and THERE WAS NO CEILING.    It wasn't that the ceiling was opened, it just wasn't there.  There were orange trees growing, and our table was under one of them. 

When we were finished we were taken, by the same person who guided us in, back to the cab.  He stopped however, halfway back and asked us to come down a side alley to visit his home.  This was a total surprise but we followed him, and he brought us to a door which opened to one room.  There was a tile floor, a couple of bikes and a motorcycle and some other stuff in the room.  There was a curtain, which was open, which separated a room with three beds (cots).  He introduced us to his mother and sister.  He asked us to stay for tea but we declined, thanking him for the honor of seeing his home, gave him 40 dirhams and was led back to the street.  I really wanted to take a picture but I thought it would be inappropriate.  Our cab driver, Abdellah, was there as usual to pick us up and take us back to the hotel.

We called him this morning to pick us up, and go for a ride. He drove us to the "new town".  This was certainly upscale from what we had seen.  The homes were attractive and the area clean (top pix).  We asked him to stop and have lunch with us (2nd pix).  The difference in prices from La Mamounia Hotel was dramatic.  My hearts-of-palm salad (3rd pix) was good, plentiful, and about 3 bucks.  As a comparison, at our hotel, a couple of sandwiches for lunch for Sharon and me cost about $70 (with water).  

This afternoon Sharon & I went back to the market area to look for some patches for our jump suits.  (This is a thing of mine.)   We walked through the market (3rd pix), up and down the alleys just looking.   In the center of the square are the games, story tellers, snake charmers, etc..   Tourists take pictures but pay for the privilege.  I took the 4th pix of kids "fishing" and was immediately come upon by a guy with his hand out.   I gave him 5 dirhams (50 cents) and he put his hand on my arm and said, NO 20!!!     I gave him 5 more and he again put his hand on my arm and said (seriously) NO 10 MORE!!!  I gave him the other 10. He smiled and with a little bow said thank you.  It's a little disconcerting, but that's the way of life here.

We walked down an alley and, much to our surprise, came across a guy selling patches.  I saw what I wanted.  I said "how much"?  He said 45 dirhams.  I said I want 4 of them and I'll give you 100 dirhams.  He said "120 dirhams".  I said 110 with a little smile.  He said 115 with a smile.  I said 112 1/2 and we both laughed.  I said "here is the deal.   I'll pay 110 and (holding a 5 dirham coin) you guess which hand it's in and it's yours.  Otherwise it's mine."  He smiled and said yes.  I then held my hands in front of him and with the only slight of hand I know (other than losing my sunglasses), switched the coin.  He guessed the correct hand, I gave him the 5 dirhams, and we both "high five'd". 

We didn't last much longer in the market since the temperature was certainly over 110 F.

Tonight we ate at the Moroccan Restaurant in La Mamounia Hotel (bottom pix) and tomorrow we leave for Lisbon. 


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