May 6, 2013
Today was our last day in Marrakesh. The day started off a bit weird as I was still pretty shaken up by the whole “picture-taking” fiasco and was nervous that the locals in the village were still upset with us. I think that soon passed when we finally got out of the Medina and into a cab to take us to the Jardin de Majorelle. Our taxi driver ended up being from Barcelona but was driving a cab in Morocco. (I’m not exactly sure why as my Spanish isn’t awesome so I didn’t pick up on that part). All I got was that his wife lives and studies in Barcelona but he lives and works in Marrakesh. They see each other every 15 days and take turns going back and forth. Ummm…whoa. According to him, love really is that “strong.” Let’s just say the passengers in the taxi (not including me) loved that while I kept staring out the window wondering what it would be like to ride a camel through the desert. Anyways, he had to be the nicest taxi driver we’ve had so far.
The garden, designed by Yves St. Laurent, is beautiful and filled with all different plants, flowers, cacti and you’ll see bursts of bright royal blue and yellow. Definitely not something I expected in the middle of the desert. After the gardens we headed back to the souks for some real shopping! My goal: a pair of boots, tassel key chains and a decorative tagine. I did want a tea pot but then I thought: Am I really going to make tea? Let’s be real. The previous day we had walked through the leather-making section of the souks. I kind of developed a crush on a pair of boots I saw an old man making but he was asking for 250 dirham. I just assumed that I’d find them for cheaper somewhere else, instead of with the person making them. The first shop I came across quoted me 800dh (that’s almost 4 times what the man who was actually making them asked for)! The next, quoted me 450dh…then we lost our way.
Only to be found by a guy asking us if we’d like to see how they dye fabrics. This was something we had wanted to see but didn’t get a chance to as it was mainly done outside of the city. At first we were wary because we knew that this is one of those “friendly gestures” where they want something from us. We straight up told him that we didn’t have any money and we’d find it ourselves. He kept trying to guide us while we were turning a different direction, insisted that there was no charge and left. Turns out he was the one doing the guiding as he brought us right to the front of fabric dying area (but he left…with no money. This was shocking).
We were then greeted by his cousin who told us “no charge” and took us through the dying area, up to the roof top to see all the dyed strings drying, showed us how the color was made and then down to where we could see the finished product – scarves. He tied the scarves around our head and encouraged us to take pictures.
Then it started…the selling! We should have known better. He kept quoting outrageous prices for his scarves and was PISSED when we refused to buy anything. He told us to get out of his shop, shouted out things like “bad Indian tourists” and “only wanting pictures” then gave us the evil eye while we just walked away. Now, if this had been the first day, I would have been upset and felt bad but today, I was just irritated. We had repeatedly told him we weren’t going to pay for anything and he still took us through. What did he expect?
At this point, I was about ready to give up on the boots as I figured we’d never find the old man making them plus I still needed to shop for a few other things. While we were headed out I ended up walking past two things that looked very familiar – a colorful woven carpet I had taken a picture of the day before and fake Chanel bags. All of a sudden, I felt like I was on some sort of adventure and I just found the missing clue, we started heading down a path, after a few turns, mishaps, and turnarounds…there he was. Sitting in his shop…eating. I don’t think he recognized me but I knew right away it was him. The pair of shoes I wanted were still there and I asked to try them on. Instead of a sock or one of those weird panty hose material socks, he handed me a small plastic bag (sandwich size). Again, the convenience factor. The shoes fit perfectly…he wanted 300dh. I tried my best to bargain with him and bring them down to 250dh which is what he had told me yesterday but he wouldn’t budge so I left. I walked about 30 steps away from his shop, turned right back around and told him I’d take them.
Now, this has got to be the best money I have ever or will ever spend on shoes. As soon as I told him, I’d buy them, he cleared a small little seat for me in his shop and gestured me to sit down next to him. He then took the shoes, started cleaning them off, polished them and made them waterproof. He insisted that we take pictures of him handing me the shoes and made little seats for M & P to sit on. After the photo shoot, he cleaned the shoes one last time, packed them up in a bag and gave them to me. I think he broke my heart into a billion pieces as I doubt I will ever in my life come across a pair of shoes by anyone who has put that much love and thought into them.
He not only proved to me, what hard work is but also what the significance of being a good human being is. There was no trickery, no bad words, no calling things out…just a man doing what he loves, making business if he can, and of course making shoes. (The 50dh he was asking me, which really is only like $7 was completely worth it and I would have given more if we didn’t need the money for cab fare and food).
After a bit more shopping a bit more bargaining and a lot more stuff in our hands we had to say goodbye to the souks. We headed to the KFC across from the Big Square and indulged in spicy chicken…finger lickin’ good.
After one more cab ride back to the riad, we packed our belongings, said goodbye to Aziz and left the Medina for the airport. After three days in the desert, I finally saw my first camel and of course only 2 signal lights to guide traffic. This is life here.
It is such a beautiful city—structurally and culturally. I learned so much and it’s only fueled my desire to continue to travel and visit other countries where I’ll get the same feel. While we were leaving, P said “I wonder what the city would look like turned inside out?” I can only imagine…
Now, I’m back in Spain.
P.S. I can’t believe I forgot this but there are SO MANY CATS in Morocco and they are everywhere! Cats…cats…kittens…cats…it’s like Cat City! Meow.