After the museum, we made our way to a little market square at the edge of the souks that lead to Jemaa-el- Fna. I’m not sure of the actual name of the square, but because it was the location of the touristy Café des Epices, Fred had referred to it as Place des Epices. Inside, we met a woman who had been living in Morocco for a few months. With her was a tiny kitten she had adopted and named Princess. Princess ran about the second floor of the café with a long white cloth tied to her collar; it was as if a Hallowe’en ghost had got loose there (albeit a ghost with a very cute squeaky voice). The woman was a painter cum carpet trader who lived, of all places, in Brooklyn. Here’s me looking very hot (as in temperature) in the Café des Epices, after having eaten most of a bland tuna sandwich:
And here’s the market scene I was looking at from the window:
We stopped in at one of the spice shops, where I bought argan oil (from a rare tree that grows only in a specific part of Morocco – it’s supposed to have healing properties), two different spice mixes, “berber whiskey” (a tea mix), and a little square of amber perfume. The seller threw in a ceramic pumice object for good measure. Here’s a photo of the shop, which sold pigments as well as spices:
I LOVED haggling, and I got rather good at negotiating in French, despite all those troublesome “quatre-vingts.” Buying something was an arduous, theatrical process, laden with struggle and gesture and undertone and manipulation; I likened it to a game of seduction. The sellers lure you in, you look carefully, perhaps inquire about a price, and then the fun starts – it can take fifteen minutes to agree on the price of, for example, a small carved wooden cat. Towards the end the pace of the negotiation quickens, until, breathless, you agree together on a (more or less) fair price – and both parties are filled with relief. What can one buy in Marrakech? Oh… so much! I only bought a very small percentage of what I would have liked to; unfortunately, Gary was not so enamored as I was of the bargaining drama. In fact, it drove him nuts to wait around while I was shopping, and I couldn’t really go out alone (more on this anon), so I ended up with rather lighter bags than I’d expected. But here are some examples of the goods one might buy if one had the time, the money, and the patient-enough travel partner:
(OK, I have to go to sleep now… the images for this next part will have to come later…)
We then went to Les Jardins Majorelles, in the new city, and looked at lots of pretty cactuses, vases, and tourists:
(We decided they were from San Francisco in Marrakech to research tribal dance)
We had a luxurious dinner (see chandelier below, imagine opera playing in the background) at our riad of chicken tagine with Kermit the kitten, whom I for some reason decided should be called Chester. He was rather difficult to photograph.
More to come! Really!