Day 2 of our most excellent adventure. We never did get to sleep till midnight and ended up being awakened by the vacuuming in the hallway, around 11am. So much for the morning tour we had planned. We managed to enjoy breakfast for lunch, tasty coffee with hot milk, baguette with cheese and marmalade and a fresh orange I bought yesterday.
Our tour guide, Ali, met us at the hotel and we taxied to the Old Medina but stopped shortly at the Jewish quarter in another part of town. Ali explained that the Jews were in Morocco centuries before the Muslims, and therefore nowadays, it would be difficult to tell if your ancestry was Jewish or Muslims. They were all essentially Berber of origin. That explains the fondness and cooperation between both religious groups here. Christians came much later, for sure, so they have no attachment to Christianity.
We drove on to the Old Medina, built starting sometime in the 9th century. We walked down labyrinth-like streets, moved over to let the occasional donkey by, popped our heads into Mosques, old universities (the same as a mosque in most cases), a beautiful riad, and a great many artisan shops such as the bronze dish maker, the rug weaver, the silk cloth weaver, the natural cosmetic maker and most notably, the tanneries. We managed not to spend too much money on souvenirs and took a great number of pictures. The smell from the communal bread oven was delightful. We tasted a fat, juicy date as we walked along. I would have stopped for a cup of tea but time was limited.
When we were done our shopping and touring, we waited for a taxi outside the Medina, but it was traffic time, so we stood a poor chance of finding a cab very quickly. Luckily, Ali’s friend happened along and Ali got us a ride back to the hotel. The drive gave us a really good tour of the old city, with what looked like fortification walls. That was perhaps more what I expected a Moroccan city to look like. At any rate, we got to our hotel and I gave Ali’s friend what I thought was 20 dirham. As I was checking my accounts, I think I may have handed him a 20€ bill! That would be the equivalent of 10 times more than was required. I am sure Ali’s friend won’t mind giving tourists a ride at that rate. He might even consider the taxi business as his second career. At the very least, he probably thinks I am one dumb tourist. As for me, I will have to console myself by remembering that it’s good to give when we can afford to. Even if it’s sometimes inadvertent.
Back at the hotel, we decided to have a bite to eat along with that cup of tea I never did get. There is a large cafe/cremiere (ice cream shop) across the street that I had my eye on. Unfortunately, there were only men sitting outside the cafe, so we decided to head for the privacy of our hotel bar. Ariane is finding it unnerving getting all those stares from men. She is very conscious of what she wears, but she is tall, slim and has little in common with a wallflower in her demeanour and forthright manner. She is so much the opposite of what women are expected to be like in public in much of the world, unfortunately. That misfortune is not hers but other women’s. I would never want my daughter to be anything less than who she is. I like to think that she is the best of both her parents – worldly, educated, curious and a bit fearless.
Dinner this evening will be at an authentic restaurant. We are both hoping for some Bastilla, a chicken and egg pie, spiced with sugar and cinnamon. We are also told that there will be traditional dancing and music. I just hope we are not sitting on the floor because after a long day of walking, I may not be able to get up gracefully.
Just a ps: the pictures I wanted to upload seem to be missing. I will have to edit my blog posts when I get home and I will also try to add captions for clarification. I hope you check back again.