Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5





A trip to Morocco

Part 3: A city of many small pleasures

It is already Thursday. We have done nothing. Or at least nothing big. Marrakesh is a city of many small pleasures. Not one big thing. Today our small pleasure is the gardens of the best hotel. They are open to the public.

We take a horse-drawn carriage. The driver's hat is blown away. We stop to pick it up. We drive past pink city walls. We enter a pink city gate. We arrive at Hotel Mamounia. We walk through an opulent interior overwhelming in its splendour. The gardens are crowded near the hotel.

We walk farther off. A small immaculate horse drawn carriage takes children along the gravel paths. A man in uniform leads the single horse. We walk through the Koutoubiya gardens. We cannot go in. All the gates are locked. We return to lunch at the hotel.

The tanneries are in the northeast of the old city. Our hotel is in the southwest. We take a taxi to the tannery quarter. The driver is old. He says his meter is broken. We circumnavigate the pink walls. We arrive at the tannery gate.

The taxi driver wants sixty dirhams. The ride should be no more than fifteen. Sixty should take us over the Atlas to Ouazazate I give him twenty. I say we can go to the Tourist Police if he wants to. He doesn't want to. I generalize; I lie. Younger taxidrivers here seem more honest. In five days of taking taxis. The number of taxis with broken meters is amazing. I could set up a factory - but there would be no clients.

The tannery guide gives us each a sprig of mint. A goat on a wall stands like a tollkeeper. It wants some mint. The tannery smell is overpowering.

We have come the wrong month. Dyeing is next month. This month the desolation is colorless. Or rather grey. We stand on a terrace looking over a wilderness of vats. The method hasn't changed for hundreds of years. Pumps with petrol motors have replaced donkeys. The skins are scraped clean by hand. There's not really that much to look at. I give the goat my mint as I leave.

The guide takes us into a leather shop. After that we are exposed to a variety of different shops. Including the inevitable carpet shop I've been avoiding since we arrived. The guide explains that the tanners barter their skins with other craftsmen. Then the tanners set up carpet shops, herbal medicine shops, and brass shops. We are polite. We buy nothing. We pay the guide and leave. We walk back to Jamaa el-Fna.

We end the afternoon at an arts and crafts center. It is opposite the Koutoubiya. My sister-in-law recommended it. They have fixed prices. She doesn't like bargaining. My wife and daughter shop.

I sit and drink. Craftsmen come onto a terrace in front of me. They take their shoes off. They stand in two ranks. They kneel to pray. They stand up. They kneel to pray again.

Later, we walk back to Jamaa el-Fna. We drink mint tea on a terrace overlooking the square. We eat. We go to another terrace. We drink more tea. The square is very animated at night. Many people eat at the foodstalls. I wouldn't dare. Men offer to clean my shoes. Camels are offered in profusion. For the gazelle. The gazelle is starting to find these constant offers oppressive. Or insulting.

Part 4: Seven journeys

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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