|After a nice breakfast, and goodbye gifts from Ahmed and his wife, it is time for goodbyes. Jahaj gives me a lift into Marrakesh. On the way we stop to buy argan oil for me and olive oil for him. We buyolive oil at a little place where the owner shows us how they make it. He gives us homemade bread to taste the oil. The oil smells of olives, it is so good; it reminds me of the olive oil I purchased in Greece from villagers. After, we continue on to Marrakesh and the Medina where my hotel is.
After the peaceful time in the mountains, Marrakesh assaults my senses, and not in the good way. It is noisy, hot, overcrowded and it smells of exhaust fumes – tons of scooters, byciles and cars going in every directions without apparent order. The hotel/pension is a converted large villa with a central pool and courtyard. It is nice but I miss the simple and comfortable guest home of Imlil.
I rest a bit and then I venture out in the streets he Medina and into the souk. The souk is a large never ending maze of alleys; a labyrinth of bazaars with vendors calling out to people. Each craft has its own zone; like a souk within the souk. In the leather area – another maze of perhaps 20 little alleys (derbs)- you can watch the artisans making shoes and leather goods in the back of shops – another little maze of dark alleys where it smellsstrongly of leather. I wonder around the leather bazaars, and end up somehow in the clothing and fabrics area. I purchase a couple of souvenirs only to find cheaper ones later.
Prices quoted can be as much as 80% more than necessary; haggling over price becomes an art. I bargained one down to 120 Dirams ($14) from 180, only to find the same item at 75 dirams asking price (meaning, I could have had it for even less). Luckily, it is not expensive by our standards but it does leave a bitter taste. It is exhausting, because one has always to be on the look out. It is the same experience I had in Egypt. You cannot relax.
I get lost in the souk; I ask direction and the guy wants two euro. I pay him out of desperation and claustrophobia. I exit the souk at Djemaa el Fna, a huge market area/square that is like a carnival. It is covered with over 100 food stands where men yell and try to sell you food as you walk by. I ate a plate of calamari and some olives and he double charged me for every item. I showed him the price on the menu, so he re did my bill. At the end of the plaza, there are belly dancers, trained monkeys and snake charmers (black cobras) that try to put pythons around your neck. Overwhelmed, I try to get back to hotel but get lost again. Finally, I find the way along with a migraine. What a difference from the High Atlas to here.