We stayed out on the beautiful stone patio, in front of a large fountain and the swimming pool, at the Palais Saguia, until early afternoon. We were writing, posting, and Tali was resizing our photos, so that they could also be posted. These times to sit and reflect, especially when they are in such a beautiful setting, really help to recharge our exploring batteries!
We finally tore ourselves away from the beautiful and peaceful setting of bougainvillea flowers, orange and pomegranate trees, and drove the 15km or so to the walled town of Taroudant.
Taroudant is a Berber market town, just as Marrakech is, but it is much smaller and a far more laid-back sort of place. There seem to be more bicycles on the streets and alleys of Taroudant than there are cars or motor scooters, in fact far more than we’ve observed anywhere else in Morocco that we’ve visited so far in our journeys.
With fewer cars on the streets, we easily found a parking place just outside of one of the gates to the Medina, and walked in to have a look. While we still had to pay attention to the traffic, we were immediately much less stressed out than in Marrakech, as here there seemed to be room for pedestrians, bikers, merchants, deliverymen, even the occasional tourist, all to co-exist peacefully.
We walked into the Grand Souk, one of the two permanent souks in the Medina. There were just a few tourists, mostly Moroccans browsing, and the merchants had a friendly air about them. We stopped by a stall selling the traditional shoes of the Atlas Mountains, called babouches, as Tali had already tried to find a comfortable pair, without success, in Fez. Here the shoes seemed to be much better made, and we bought her two pairs, and me one pair, for about a third of the price she was quoted for just one pair in Fez! Tali’s shoes had very smooth soles, and the merchant brought us over to a booth nearby where they cut and glued on an additional corrugated sole, for 20 dirhams, about two and a half dollars, per pair.
We continued to walk around the Grand Souk, window shopping and taking some photos, and when we found a small stall selling soft drinks and some absolutely fresh baguettes, we stopped for a snack – a large bottle of mineral water and two baguettes, with La Vache Qui Rit cheese, all for 9 dirhams, about a dollar. It was just as refreshing to be charged locals’ prices here in Taroudant…it’s not the money, it’s the attitude, that especially after Marrakech, was like a breath of fresh air.
After several enjoyable hours walking around the medina, we decided to head back to our car, but first we stopped at a large cafe for a hot drink. Under the stairs going to its second level, the owners had enclosed the diagonal space with screening, making a large bird cage. Inside were a half dozen or so song birds! Tali told me that this is quite common in Arab businesses, as they like to have the beautiful sounds of nature around them as much as they can.
At sunset, we got in our car and drove back to the Palais, where Malika had prepared us an almost impossibly good dinner of pureed vegetable soup, a vegetarian tagine, and cauliflower au gratin. We briefly flirted with the idea of remaining here instead of going west, to the ocean, so that we could continue getting pampered by Hassan and Malika, but it’s time for some new adventures!