I walked several miles around Marrakech today, in part because I was lost. I wandered far from the tourist zone and walked past shops where men were repairing cars and other items. I was angry and frustrated for awhile and then reminded myself that I was in one of the great cities of the world and it was a beautiful day with blue skies. Eventually I found the Souk just off the main square – Jemaa el-Fnaa. It is a medieval labyrinth filled with shop after shop. Many of the people were selling spices and dried herbs. But they also had oils, perfumes, soaps, pottery, jewelry – you name it. I wandered deep into the souk into the area where people buy their poultry (hanging up in the window), meats, eggs, and vegetables. The fish stalls did not improve the smell, but around the corner there were fragrant spices. It was hard to pass through without buying anything, but I managed it.
When I came out of the souk I found I was at the Bahia Palace, which I had gotten lost trying to find. It is a large, 19th century palace with lovely mosaics. Every doorway is a work of art. For some reason it reminded me of King George’s little place in Brighton Beach. After the palace I had a large lunch sitting on the square. I was disappointed there were no snake charmers or other performers, but the king does not always get his wish.
After lunch I went to the baths for a hamman, which is a special Moroccan form of steam bath. It is a square room with a ceiling that comes to a point. The walls are heated. I’m so broad it was hard to lie on the bed without touching the walls. Just when I thought I couldn’t take the heat any more the attendant came in and gave me a scrub with sea salt. Felt much better than I expected, but it left me feeling a little raw. So I really enjoyed the goo she covered me with after. Slimy, but aromatic. I chose the one with grapefruit in it. After another long time in the heat, I showered and was led to a room to recover with mint tea and water. Then it was time for the massage, which was just perfect after my long walk. All this for only $70!
I felt so great after the hamman and massage that I went to a shop I had seen on the first day. Mufasa still had my business card. We drank tea and he helped me find presents for the girls in the family. And then we went upstairs to the rugs. Mountains of rugs. Berber, persianesque, arabic. They showed me about a dozen. They were all too expensive, but we finally made a deal on a Berber rug and all the presents. I’m sure he got the better of the deal, but it seems to be a reputable place. And it fits in my suitcase. A fellow from the shop gave me a ride home on his Vespa carrying the rug. So I got to do something I really wanted to do, which was to cruise through a foreign city on a Vespa.