The Big Adventure 2005 travel blog


Baking bread

Brian getting a free massage- yes free!

Hand scraping sheepskins- what a back breaking job.

Caught the midday bus to the border and walked through Immigration without hassles, then jammed ourselves into a Mercedes taxi with four others. Hurtled through the streets and after two near misses arrived close enough to walk to our pension. It is halfway through Ramadan so it will be interesting to see how we fare in the food department. The first thing we did was go to the toursim office for a map and while there got invited to join an Israeli guy and his friends at a cafe (so that took care of lunch!) and we spent a couple of enjoyable hours chatting. One of the people turned out to be a Moroccan guide and he then took us to the Medina.

Wow! How to describe our afternoon. The Medina, another World Heritage site, has seven gates which shows how large it is, and while we could have explored on our own, we certainly wouldnt have seen what we did. First through a vegetable market with everything from dates to bananas, then we meandered through the Jewish quarter. Hamid found a woman with a key to the synagog so in we went. Then off to (of course) a carpet shop wghere we indulged in mint tea and a long discourse on the numbers of carpets we have seen and had explained to us......did not buy a carpet but parted as friends.

Almost succumbed to a silk bedspread which started out at USD245 and ended up at USD75 as we walked out. Next was a Natural health pharmacy where we were told all about various herbs and oils, while first Brian and then I got a massage, followed by the hard sell to buy the oil of course and some herbs to stop me snoring- Brian is still saying they dont work!!! After this came a quick visit each to a Hammam (bathhouse) followed by a tannery-whew-what a horrible job that would be. Next we saw how a man handmade a jellabah ( mens cloak) with the son holding threads that the father interweaved as he sewed the hems- quite intricate but so fast and neat you would think it was done by machine. I was in awe of their skill- an art that is slowly dying as machine made clothes are cheaper to buy. We also saw boys creating thread, working out in the street using a nail in the alley wall to work from. Most but not all women wear a cloak as well, with a hood draped down the back, and often without a scarf, so far more open than in Iran. Sometimes we would see girls in jeans and a sweatshirt too. It is amusing to see all the ,en sitting outside the cqfes with nothing to eat or drink, until 1745 when Rammadan ends, and then out comes Hariri soup, dates and sweet cake.

Sitting out on our balcony we watched the actrivities in the pedestrian strrret below us- young men selling their wares on the footpath but keeping a wary eye out for the police, when they boys quickly scoop everything up and hide in a doorway- obviously not supposed to sell on the street. We are back into hugging and kissing territory- when two mlen meet they kiss on each cheek, hold hands and exchange information about the health of themsemlves and each member of the family.

We said goodbye to Hamid, for the sum of 300 dhs but he then arranged to meet us for fre (?) soup at 1730. Yep- that is exactly what happened- he took us to a restaurant where the owner serves free soup and dates every night during Rammadan- very tasty vegetable, meat and lentil soup.

Food and accommodation is cheap here- such a nice change after Spain and Portugal. The Lonely Planet reccomended hotel Victoria was a bit of a let down- clean beds etc but smelly leaky toilet, however for one night at 80 dhs (NZD16) cant complain.

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