Jun 13, 2019

Our final day in marvellous Marrakesh

It was great having three full days plus the evening prior to explore this magical place. Our plan for this final day was to explore the souks. Just as we were about to enter, a local fellow with good English stopped us to say that the area we were going into was closed because of the holiday. We had been told the day before that it was a holiday. He then said that Berbers were gathering in the big square just five minutes up that way. He explained that we would see lots of them working their crafts and it was very special. So we walked in that direction and walked and walked and asked for directions once and kept walking. It was interesting and different from what we had already seen plus we saw other tourists like us returning from that direction.  So we kept walking but with all the turns left and right, I was becoming concerned about getting lost. Yet we continued as we still saw others walking towards us.

The Berber who was guiding us.

Being led to slaughter, not me, the goat.

Still following the Berber.

Where are we?

We stopped again to clarify our direction and the fellow said just around the corner. Then he said “Oh look there is a Berber”. He then called to the fellow and asked him to lead us to the square.  So we followed him around many more corners. I told Colin that it was too far and that we should go back, the Berber said it was just another minute. It was more than that and we said no more but just followed . Suddenly another guy appeared and said hello and gave us some small twigs of fresh mint to cover the smell of the tannery.  Suddenly we were at a tanner and we had no interest in touring the tannery and then he noticed that we were leaving.  The fellow  asked if we wanted to see the finished product, we had come this far, so why not.

The horrifically smelly tannery.

More twists and turns. I stopped walking and said ‘enough’.  Turns out that it was just ahead. We were handed off to yet another man who introduced himself and had us come and sit on an elegant love seat. He then proceeded to explain how the leather is coloured with natural products and to show us his wares. We politely listened and asked a price about a hassock. It was 1800MAD/249.00CAD. We told him that we could not afford that, he suggested VISA and to negotiate a better price. He quickly became angry when we explained that we were not there to purchase anything.  He refused to listen to our explanation that we were there against our will. Yes it was a scam and we had fallen for it.

It was all lovely and well made.  We learned the difference between the feel of the leathers with goat being the softest and camel the hardest.  But we were there to look at people making the items, not selling them.

Once we left the building the two guys who had led us first to the tannery and then to the leather store were standing there with their hands out asking for money. We said no but they were upset and strong so I gave them 5MAD each but they wanted 100 each. Of course we refused and told them that we knew we had been scammed. I forgot to mention that I had spoken with two other tourists back in the shop and the same thing had happened to them. It all started back at the entrance to the souk which was not really closed.  They had called each other to let them know that we were coming, I saw the Berber make a call as we walked.  It took us a bit to put it all together.

But there is more to the story. Later looking at the map we discovered that we had walked from one wall clear across the Medina to the far wall. No wonder we were exhausted. Colin insisted that we take a taxi back to our starting point as it was hot, 33C/92F. There was an empty cab at the end of the street but no driver. We saw a nice looking fellow nearby and asked if he was the driver. He was not and said that the taxi was reserved for someone in the leather store.  But there were taxis just around the corner and he proceeded to lead us. After a block or more we asked how much further and he pointed. We could see the walls at the edge of the Medina and said thank you for your help and went on but he insisted that he would lead us. I knew that he was going to ask for money which he did but we did not expect him to start yelling at us because it wasn’t enough. He followed us to the taxi all the time yelling and when he realized that there was no more coming he started swearing at us with very vulgar words and threatening us. We were in the taxi by then and Colin had negotiated a price and we were off, somewhat shaken.  What a waste of two hours but it could have ended differently. So we put it behind us and moved on.

So much lovely henna work being done in many places in the square.

After lunch where we were entertained by musicians and acrobats we returned to the souk and enjoyed our walk through with no hassles. One of the first things we saw was the exact same hassock for only 300MAD/41.50CAD.  We really didn’t want to buy it so we went to move on.  The vendor was offended that we didn’t even bargain, in others words, we could have got it for much cheaper.

Further into the souk a display of pottery and dishes in a lovely shade of turquoise caught our eye. We had no intention of buying but the colour was perfect for our home and we could always use another small serving plate. The owner of the stall gave us a price that was more that we could pay and we started to walk away. He insisted that we give him a counter offer but we told him that we did not want to insult him. He insisted yet again and we gave him our offer that was less than half. He countered with 20MAD more and the deal was struck.  We are now the happy owners of a lovely memory from Morocco.  We paid 130MAD/18.00CAD less than the original price. Our price was $16.60CAD.

Isn’t it lovely?

Once we had our fill of the souks we headed back to the apartment before I melted.  I sat in the A/C for a while both reading and working on the blog. Colin however, after a short break, headed back to the main square. He loves all the energy there, watching the vendors, the snakes, the monkeys and the general chaos of it all. I was surprised that he was gone close to two hours. I had already started my packing when he returned with some new treasures. He had been eyeing the vendors from Senegal and their brightly coloured African shirts. He had purchased not one, but three shirts from the rest of the dirhams he had in his  pockets.  Lovely shirts for about $13.00CAD each, a wonderful deal for cotton shirts.

Colin happened to be in the square when they started setting up the cooking, food and tables for each food booth.

The entire booth is carted in like this. It takes twelve people to set up the booth.

One of the new African shirts.

Once we had completed our packing we headed out for our final meal in Marrakesh.  We chose to go back to the vegetarian restaurant that we ate at on our first night.  The food was just as delicious. we had to pay in Euro as Colin had spent all of our Moroccan money. Back home we showered and did more packing. I bent over in the shower when I felt a twinge my hip. Perhaps it was because of all the walking I had done and that I was extra tired, that I pulled something. We tried massage and pressure point release that did not help. I took a double dose of ibuprofen. Colin was asleep in a moment while I remained awake in severe pain. At one point I knew that I was incapable of leaving in the morning. About 1:15AM I got up and took a Tylenol 3. Over the next hour the pain eased and I fell asleep. In real time I am doing alright with little to no pain. Colin is carrying the two heavy carry on bags while only have to deal with the small guitar.

We have ten more days before we travel back to Canada.  At the moment we are on yet another flight to our next destination. I hope that you will enjoy it.


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9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Our final day in marvellous Marrakesh”

  1. George Yates says:

    What a scary time being led around by the scammers. Nice that you finally got back to where you wanted to go. Good to hear that you pain is letting up , not fun.

  2. Maxx Trails says:

    What a scary beginning to your day, I’m glad it all worked out okay! I love the new plate ?

  3. Kathryn Tycho says:

    Yikes…that turned out better than it might of. Leaves a bad taste in your mouth though…live and learn I guess. Lovely plate and a snazzy shirt.

  4. Kim Scheller says:

    How do you know the glaze on the serving plate is not lead based?

    • contessa says:

      No idea. It really is more of a beautiful plate to look at and possible put some crackers and cheese on now and then rather than an every day thing.

  5. Kathy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing that experience. Hearing the good with the bad will help other travelers. I am so impressed with all of the planning and research you did in your preparation. Continued safe travels.


  6. Rae says:

    Soon as you wrote that the guy said the souks were closed, I knew you were about to be taken for a ride. I’m so glad it worked out okay and you just an adventure to share after!

    I cannot for the life of me remember where you’re going next — I don’t even think you told me. So curious! 🙂

  7. livingrichonthecheap says:

    Unfortunately some of these tactics are used all over the world with tourists. Best to never follow anyone I guess. Sad they have to act like that.

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