No light shown through the window when we both awoke this morning at 7:00 am. Fall is in the air, almost equal amounts of day and night. I am glad we have our little traveling teapot as there is not a coffee machine or teapot in the room. We didn't go down for breakfast until 9:00 but I could at least get my morning jolt with my teapot and little packs of Starbuck's Via coffee.
After breakfast Russ and I walked into the old part of Marrakech for a look around. As soon as we left the hotel, a taxi driver asked if we wanted a ride. We said no thank you. He told us that the main square was closed today and wouldn't be open until late this afternoon, but he could take us to a botanical garden. Hmmm....reminded me of the same story we had once heard in Bangkok which was a way to get the tourist into tuktuks in a different direction. So again, we declined and walked into town. Maybe it would be open, maybe it would not be. It is a Muslim holiday week, so maybe it could be true.
Sights along the way:
Wall around the city.
|Retro Tourist Taxies|
Well the main square was open.
When we reached the old mosque,
a man came up to us with an official looking name badge on a laniard, and said he was employed by the government to provide tourist information for free. We had a nice chat with him. He warned us not to let the souks (sellers) take advantage of us by grabbing our hands and painting with henna or be taken in by the snake charmers who would demand money for taking pictures of them with the snakes. He also said that if we wanted to take photos to have small coins, that the souks would say they had no change and if you gave them a large bill, you would not get change back. So after being friendly and frightening, he said he could take us to a nice place to see a demonstration of sorts and that it would not cost us any money. Hmmm......have heard this story before too. So again, we declined and continued our walk into the old city center.
Wary now of the souks in the square, I was creeped out by the snake handlers. I don't like snakes, we could see men approaching male tourists with the snakes dangling and wreathing in their hands,
|See the snake on the left by the orange box?|
trying to get the men to hold them and take pictures. Other charmers were playing music to swaying cobras. I'll try to get a better photo tomorrow. This one was on the fly from a distance.
Creepier still were these mean looking little monkeys dressed up in clothes that were led around on a leash and would jump up on your shoulder. I guess you could pose with these guys too. There were women with little plastic chairs and tables who would give you a henna tattoo, but none of them tried to grab my hand.
Not looking to buy anything in particular, except perhaps a wall hanging for behind our bed, we made, our way into the old Medina, and enjoyed the sights and smells of spices and incense.
We found a large, reputable (we think - we hope) carpet company, where we were shown many carpets and wall hangings. The sales people (4 different men) would bring out different carpets into a large room, throw them on the floor, flip them over, etc. You like??? one pile. Don't like...take it away. We wound up buying two carpets, one larger one for the floor
and one for the wall.
Carpets by our request will be shipped FedEx by November 1 when we will be home from our travels. We were told that women who were widows and had no means of support were provided by the government wool and looms. When sold in these government co-ops, 25% of the profit went to the women, 25% went to the government, and 50% went to the co-op.
Ok, so we avoided the snake handlers, henna tattoo artists, and creepy monkeys, but we did buy some carpets. Exhausted by avoidance and effort, it was time for lunch. Russ knew right where to go as he had done some geocaching research, and found a place called the Al Baraka (restaurant courtyard garden) where a geocache was hidden and Trip Advisor had published great reviews for the food.
Had it not been for the geocache, we probably would not have even gone into this restaurant. The entrance looked quite dark. Once we went through the dark entrance an took a left, a large beautiful courtyard opened up. It was quiet and peaceful with a water fountain, and shaded tables.
|This wins the prize for most beautiful geocache container!|
The wait staff knew about the geocache and invited us to look around. No purchase was required. We knew we were going to have lunch there anyway, so we found a table in the shade, ordered lunch, and while waiting for our food, Russ found the cache, brought it to our table and we filled out the log.
Soon two women came in and started to look around. The manager introduced us to the two ladies who were also looking for the cache, and we still had it at our table. The two women were sisters from Belgium. We had a nice chat, they signed the log, repositioned the cache in quite a lovely container, and they were on their way. We talked with the manager who went to an American University in Spain. He spoke English well. Curious about the snake charmer, I inquired about the safety of loose cobras. He said the cobras were not venomous, and that they had had their venom/fangs removed. Phew! But they are still snakes!
Our lunch was excellent. We shared a Moroccan salad (several small dishes of vegetables) and a half liter of rose wine. Russ had lamb in saffron; and I had chicken with olives.
We left the walled city and walks back to the hotel by 3:30,
skipped dinner, and had some cool beers before turning in for the night.