We began today by having breakfast on the patio outside our room – much nicer than yesterday’s, which was taken inside, on the ground floor of the Riad. There, we shared our meal with a steady stream of bees checking out what we were eating; today there are no insect visitors, and we are able to enjoy our typical all-breads breakfast in peace!
Tali had almost a completely coughless evening last night, and she’s very much better today…a bit congested, but otherwise fine.
We set out today to continue to try and find the more enchanting parts of Marrakech, as what we’ve seen so far hasn’t been enough to make either one of us fall in love just yet…and both of us are none too picky when it comes to becoming infatuated with our travel destinations!
Marrakech, in the parts that are chock full of tourists, is a busy city, full of cars and motorbikes, with hard, often cold eyes, looking to get what they can from the steady stream of visitors passing by…like Venus Flytraps looking to entice a nice, juicy insect to rest just a few minutes on their welcoming leaves.
There are momentary glimpses of another Marrakech, in the nooks and corners that tourists don’t frequent as much or as often…we saw a little bit yesterday in the wholesale metalworkers block…a Medina still functioning as an organic whole with integrity…but there isn’t much beauty here in the architecture, or in the streets, that we’ve yet been able to see…
We are trying today to walk over to the part of the Medina south of the Jemaa el Fna, which includes the old Jewish quarter, called the Mellah, and the palace. But first, we wandered a bit… Tali’s attention was captured by a local designer’s clothing shop that featured the use of better fabrics – silks, linens and velvets – with a lot of handwork and embroidery. Almost everything she tried on, she liked…and she settled on a jellabah in brown velvet, and two tunics, one in a rich blue, and the other a deep red velvet.
Then started the bargaining process…at the beginning, the gulf between how much the designer wanted and how far Tali was willing to go was as big as the Mediterranean…there were statements about having a good eye for quality but being unwilling to pay for it…countered by reassurances that no insult was meant to the quality of the pieces, but that similar ones could be bought in New York for far less…requests were heard about being reasonable..bluffs involving angry husbands…on and on it went, until finally an acceptable price was reached, about a third of the initial price offered.
Carrying her bag of treasures, Tali and her Google Map-equipped iPad led the way to the Jemaa el Fna, as we planned to cross the square to head south, to the souern part of the Medina. Today the square was sunny and, as always, quite crowded with tourists, with water-Wallahs, monkey trainers (one was very busy on his cellphone while the talented part of his act sat quietly waiting), henna appliers, and juice sellers all insisting on the attention of the passing crowds.
We continued on to the Jewish quarter…whose name, Mellah, meaning salt, could have reflected the Jews’ positions as salt merchants several hundred years ago. Today, the area still has a quiet Synagogue and a huge cemetery, with many graves but no names written on any of the headstones, but otherwise shows few signs of the substantial number of Jews who lived here until they immigrated to Israel after the founding of the Jewish State.
We took a grand taxi over to the New City, where we found a lovely cafe to sit, write, and decadently eat some delicious small pastries. Marrakesh, we are still looking for your beauty…perhaps tomorrow, when we go to the Majorelle Gardens, not far from where we are right now, outside of the Medina, we shall be entranced!