where we've been and where we're going

Monday, March 9, 2009

Markets in Marrakech

In the morning, we struggled with Moroccan stubbornness and bureaucracy in an attempt to mail ourselves the pottery we had purchased. (Update: one bowl broken, two bowls in tact.) Finally succeeding though paying exorbitant prices, N and Is walked us to the bus station to send us on our way to Marrakech. This time, we took a more reliable bus, which was a relief since we would no longer hand our friends along to help us navigate the unfamiliar waters. Crossing over to Marrakech was hot hot hot, much hotter than our previous long bus ride, since we were spending more time traversing the desert. Whew.

Arriving in Marrakech, we made our exhausting way into the medina, following our hotel manager on foot since there are no cars allowed in the medina/old city/marketplace. I must say that our hotel experience was very frustrating: difficult to find, difficult to communicate, expectations not met on either side, grr. However, it was BEAUTIFUL and very comfortable and very affordable. It's hard to say if I'd recommend it or not, but it certainly was lovely, and I'm not sure another hotel would be easier on American tourists with certain expectations.

We hired a guide through the medina, which was a very smart move. He showed us such beautiful spaces. A great portion of the medina is for workshops, where children and artisans create glasswork, metalwork, pottery, cloth dying, etc. Our guide kept taking us places where shopkeepers could sell us things. It was nice to be able to say we'd already purchased things in Essaouira, so the pressure was off. The sights of the medina were just amazing. Children in the metalwork shops. The vibrant colors of a thousand scarves. Giant jars of olives. Snake charmers in the main square. Orange juice carts with hundreds of fresh oranges to be squeezed. It was really something, I have to say.

It was the last day of our trip. The next day, we flew back to Paris but just stayed at the hotel by the airport to fly back to the US the day after. We were exhausted, but we were happy. We were so, so happy.