February 11: Marrakech

Clouds covered the sky as the sun tried to warm the morning air creating a chill and breeze that brought out down jackets and sweaters. After a breakfast of assorted breads, crepes, and sweet cakes along with fresh yogurt it was a day of relaxation and solo exploration until the afternoon when the entire group would congregate for the first "lesson" of Marrakech. Thirteen strong, the group has come in from all points of the US as well as Australia. Some have been on the continent for a couple of days, others newly arriving the night before. All are eager to explore and learn, so the first Marrakech guide has an easy task. Like a elementary school class the group trots slowly behind the guide as he walks through the Medina, souk alleyways, and across the main square teaching the history, the culture and the current environment.

The beginning of the tour took the group through the Medina's souk with its twisting and turning alleyways full of venders of merchandise ready to sell to the best customer. Bargaining is the norm in Morocco so any quoted price is expected to be haggled until a fair price is reach by both sides. It is a game and dance that to the Western world seems strange and sometimes threatening, but is in reality a means of communicating between seller and buyer to reach a state of respect. Both feel like winners, both benefit from the verbal exchange, both walk away happy that they have been able to please and satisfy the other.

The Souk area is divided up into many different areas specializing in a particular product. There is the leather area, the ceramic, the silver, the fabric, the antique, the wrought iron, etc. -- each having a multitude of mini-shops hawking their wares. It is a maze of mini streets all imbedded within the Medina and offering a life to the lonely merchant. Also within this compact area are several government owned and operated cooperatives. Some specialize in fabrics,some in rugs, some in herbs and spices -- all use their profits to benefit some needy group. The rug cooperative visited by the group shared their profits with widowed women. The women were responsible to produce the product but were rewarded with the net result.

 

Marilyn and Jackie at the Riad

Local Bike Shop!

On the Way to the Souk

Entering the Souk

Kit: "Think This Is The Way!"

Jackie and Lauren: "Okay, We Know the Way -- If We Can Figure Out This Map!"

Oranges and Tangerines at the Farmers' Market

Spices!!

Figs!!

 

Strawberries! (Each the Size of a Golf Ball!)

The Market in the Souk

Delivery Wagon

Pastilla Poulet (Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie) with Cinnamons and Sugar!

Jewish Sector (Balconies differentiate from Muslims)

Jewish Sector

Koutoubia Mosque Tower

Moroccan Rug Cooperative

Moroccan Spice/Herb Shop/Pharmacy