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Henna and Hospitality

June 15, 2014

After a shower and power nap, I was able to really take in my surroundings. Owned by Mohammed and Rashid, a lovely couple, the riad (a Moroccan guesthouse built around a central courtyard) was glorious – my version of glorious anyway.  In the middle of the old town, down a labyrinth of narrow streets, behind an unassuming door, is this welcoming oasis. The courtyard has a central mosaic, and small mosaic and wrought iron cocktail tables. I t was a jammed with the images of morocco – boxed lights, and terra cotta planters; a shelf crowned with tajines; lounge chairs and silver inlayed coffee tables. Paradise.

My room, three flights up, was even better. A fireplace, marble curved shower, sheer curtains and a glass door that opened to a patio. Sleep would be great in this room.

Refreshed I headed out to the nearby square and in search of dinner (chips and a gelato at the train station were no longer holding me). Convinced I’d get lost, Rashid assured me that that was part of the Marrakech experience and helpfully tried to map a walk for me on his map.

Moroccoan streets are crowned and the cars and mopeds do not care much for either the rules of the road or pedestrians. I stopped getting nervous about them hitting me, and just assumed they wouldn’t.

I knew I was getting close to the square when the stalls of tires and pharmacies gave way to lamp shops and fruit vendors. Lady, lady, people would call out. Come, just try this (whatever this was). I’m not easily swayed that way, so it didn’t bother me so much until I got to the market square itself. Lines of trucks overflowing with oranges, dried fruits, and spices were amazing! Not so much the people who followed me around practically grabbing ahold saying come with me, try this. One woman showed me a photo of her henna work asking if I wanted it done. She was completely gracious when I said no, extending her hand. I shook it thinking “ah – a nice person.” She held mine tightly pulled out her ink and began to henna away. I said “you have to stop, I’m not going to pay you.” but she didn’t. Eventually another woman joined us saying you must pay now. No – I said. finally I got my hand away, but not before she put “Kathy” in arabic on it. It’s good luck she assured me. I handed them whatever change I had in my bag and walked away, their unpleasant comments coming behind me.

Turns out my name in Arabic was good luck to the other vendors. As I walked through, they would call out Kathy Kathy! Getting my attention, they would then be able to try to force their wares on me.  The

I wondered the square and accompanying souk for a while, resisting any purchases. The square had a large screen on one end and was showing Charlie Chaplin movies. Among the snake charmers and jewelry vendors were whole families on blankets engrossed in the Little Tramp’s hijinx.

I finally stopped in a clearly designed for tourists restaurant for dinner. Two Casablanca beers (tastes like rolling rock) and a tajine of chicken and veggies in a spicy lemon olive oil later and back to bed. I made it home without getting lost, so I almost feel like I did it wrong.

A long sleep later and I’m enjoying breakfast of strong coffee, boiled eggs and moroccan flat bread on my patio before heading out for a long day of tourism.

 

 

 

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One Comment
  1. I love it keep the posts coming.

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