and oh what an experiance it was! So our riad is wonderful and fabulous...a little interesting to get to, but I would never NEVER stay anywhere but here! We work up this morning to the sun warm on our terrace and Peter (the owner of the riad) asked if we would like to have breakfast up there...um, YEAH! So we had a wonderful breakfast and got ready to go out. PS- Mint tea, so good! It's a traditional drink and poured in a very distinct way, so yummy!
Our original plan was to hire a guide for the afternoon to help us explore but the guide wasn't availble until about an hour and a half later. Peter gave us a map and told us to try going out on our own and see how we were feeling. If we still wanted to guide he said to come back and he would get the guide for us.
..so he gave us a map, and off we went. So, the first turn we take is wrong...that's how cool we are! Anyway, eventually we get onto what we think is the right street, and for awhile we're doing ok...ignoring the people yelling at us, looking at the cool things, learning whenever and I mean WHENEVER you hear a bike horn move out of the way...and then we take another wrong turn. But eventually we figure out this wrong turn is ok and we'll still get to the square. But still little kids are coming up to us saying, "Big square, that way," and we didn't really know whether or not to believe them (they do lie) and not wanting to ask because then they'll make you pay them. So, eventually we make it to Djemaa El Fna. The whole process maybe took 30-45 minutes, but to us I think it felt like a lot longer! We kinda circle the square a few times trying to take everything in.
..The stall keepers are yelling at us, "You, come look at my shop" "Everything 20 dirham" (it's not, they lie too) "Hey, Fish and Chips" (they thought we were English) "Miss England, you come look". Eventually we decide to chill out at a cafe and watch everything. So, we had lunch and it was yummy.
Again, I really only had one request for Marrakech and that was to see the old Jewish part of the city, the Mellah. So, we use our little map and generally know what direction we should be going in and what we should be seeing as we pass things...Again, lucky us, we get going, and we're doing ok, and we get lost. As we're walking Meghan was peering into people's homes and saw this big ass over, it was pretty cool, I think they were making bread, so her comment to me is "Careful, I might push you into the oven".
...I gave her about 5 seconds to think about it and she damn near cried when she realized what she said as we're walking in the Jewish quarter course, I was laughing my ass off cuz she doesn't quite think before she talks always! ~love her~
Long story short we see these little kids and they start pointing in one direction but we don't know if we should trust them or not, so we go the other way, we run into a police man who says he's going there anyway and he'll take us. So we backtrack and run into the same kids who I'm pretty sure told the policeman he told us to go that direction and the crazy white ladies wouldn't listen, but who knows, it was in Arabic! Whatever, we never would have found the Synagogue anyway! So we get there and I'm in spiritual awe.
We go in and I know that Meghan and Mary don't get it because it's not traditionally beautiful like Notre Dame or the other big churches, but it is beautiful. And we got lucky, the Rabbi was in. He started telling Meghan the history of the temple and she tried her best to translate. Her comment was, "I don't know these Jew things!" ~love her~ So, anyway, the temple is like 500 years old and it was the first one in Marrakech and now it's the last. It's still very traditional, the women sit on the second floor away from the men. The sweet Rabbi told me I could take some pictures, so I did!
After we left the Synagogue our now "guide" who's name we learn is Mohommed and his little brother -never did get his name- ask if we want to go to the cemetary.
We agree because there's no way we'll find it on our own, so they take us. It's incredible, it's this long almost wasteland looking area (my Grandmother will kill me for using that term, but hey, she doesn't have a computer!) The graves obviously range from 500 years old to rather current. I let my friends wander as I go off on my own, I'm not going to be a cheeseball and say I had some spiritual revelation, but I did feel very connected. It was almost a comfortable feeling.
So, we head out (after washing our hands, just in case Grandma is reading...) And Mo (hehe, I think he'd like his western name, he was a character!) takes us to the women's school and a rug shop and then gets us back to where we can make it home ok...and we overpaid him, so I guess we're all happy in the end!
We get back to the square and again are wandering taking in the snakecharmers and henna ladies and acrobats when this henna lady comes up to us and starts asking us if we want henna.
Now, the trick is Meghan and I did want to get it done, just not that day. We knew we were going for a hammam and we were going to wait, but the lady just grabs Meghan's hand and tells her it's a gift, it's a gift for luck! Meghan doesn't really know what to do because it's so obvious this lady is going to ask for money, but on the off chance it is a gift she doesn't want to mess it up. SO the lady finishes and starts arguing with Meghan because Meghan won't give her anything. BINGO! Called it! So eventually the lady scrapes the henna off Meghan...shit...so, henna starts to set right away, now Meghan has this half design, half blob of henna on her and is frantically trying to get it off! She's cursing and pissy, but eventually gets most of it off, so its not THAT noticable, but she's ready to go back to the riad.
..I am not. We compromise, one more wandering session, and then back to the riad.
So, we head down some random alley way and again are just taking in all the sights, sounds and smells...I know that I want to buy scarves, so we're casually looking, well, as casually as you can when the shopkeepers are trying to make deals with you when you're not even looking...anyway, we find this one shop and it's already got pretty good deals, so we know we can barter down and get a great deal, so we start looking. I now call this place Omar's Fabulous Shop of Scarves...it was awesome! We must have spent almost 2 hours in there, and it's a tiny little place, scarves are just shoved everywhere. We're talking to Omar who is a nice Berber man who wants to learn English and is totally my new friend, and, above all else after he gives us a GREAT deal, he gave us each a free scarf.
..I love him! Meghan's faith is restored in humanity and we can all go home, well, back to the riad...