Reaching our Limits

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We knew at time of booking that today we were being moved to another Riad, owned by the same British woman. Another morning of sleeping in, we packed our bags and left the Riad for the day. Until today, the weather had been tolerable, mostly a light drizzle and shaded. Today, however, the sun was beating down on us as we trudged through all of Marrakech. First stop were the Marjorelle Gardens, a small tropical garden laid out in the inter-war period by a French artist and owned by the famous clothing designer Yves Saint Laurent. Honestly, not worth the trek to the new city.

Gratefully, we hired a driver to take us back to the Medina determined to hit all of the remaining attractions we hadn't yet seen. With a stop at the bus station to purchase our tickets to Essaouira and Casablanca then to multiple banks to find a working ATM, the driver dropped us off as close as possible to the Bahia Palace. It was interesting to see the ornate architecture and view the concubine quarters, but again without a real tour guide, we were kind of just running in and out of these places. From there we attempted to find our way to the Jewish cemetery and synagogue but without fail we were lost and dependent on the unlimited amount of men trying to appear friendly by leading us to our destinations and never without asking for money. We consistently paid them 10-20D which often times got returned with a "Fuck You!" The visit to the cemetery was worth it just to see Lowell with a Keepah on his head.

It was right about now that the heat exhaustion got the best of me. As Lowell likes to put it, he “broke me.” Again, as a result of not getting proper cardio exercise, my body began to ache and I reached a point when I couldn’t walk another foot. A perfect moment for us to find a restroom, share an Orangina (Lowell’s favorite) until I recovered and was able to forge on.

Next stop was the Medrasa de Ben Youssef, one of the few Islamic buildings open to the public. It served as a boarding school for students of the Koran. Exiting here is where the full day turned us sour. Typically, getting lost among the labyrinth we were forced to ask for directions, aka, be escorted for a small fee to our destination. Arriving at our wits end, we managed to get dragged to a tannery. We said we were not going to pay, if he wanted to take us great, but we are not giving you money. To which he responded, “No money, no honey, no worry.” Sure enough we get led deeper and deeper into the abyss where we see fewer and fewer tourists. We were definitely among the locals now. We knew we were close to the tanneries by the horrendous smell of shit. The proprietor offered us bushels of mint, to act as a gas mask as he pointed out the various cement pools and what their use were. Small tanneries that they were, we quickly viewed the lye pool, the pigeon shit section and the area for drying. Insistent that we pay him for his time, there was a moment of fear for our lives when we stayed firm and walked away without a Durham.  Now we just needed to find our way home. Interestingly enough, as we walked we noticed two guys holding hands, one on bike, and the other on foot. It was odd to see this kind of affection between men in Morocco but happy to see that it wasn’t an issue for them in their community.

We still had one more attraction to see before we could retire for the night, which was the main Plaza Jemm de Fna. Unfortunately, I was feeling ill and it took every last bit of energy for Lowell to get me back to the Riad. Worse still was that we were being moved to a new location this night which as it turned out was clean but did not have wireless access and in addition to the rowdy kids playing ball outside our window, the shower ran on solar heat and was so scorching hot that we couldn’t shower. The two amenities that we desired most, a cold shower and Wi-Fi were not available.

Frustrated with the situation, we made an executive decision to relocate to a room closer to the main square and to leave what seemed like the not so ideal Riad. Clouded by our frustrations, we were not making the rashest of decisions and regretted our move. It meant schlepping our suitcases through the masses, getting lost and working on no fuel, we finally arrived at the hotel recommended in the book. Hotel Shirizade was quite a disappointment compared to the caliber of Riads we had known to this point. Kicking ourselves, we made the best of it; we tried out the local stalls for some kebob and cookies. We meandered around the square a little more before calling it a night and crashing. Good thing Lowell was testing out the new snoring seeds. They seem to be working.
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