Saturday, April 17, 2010


OK, I get it now. The appeal of Marrakech. Finally did it as a tourist and managed to enjoy, delight, get entertained and spoiled by it.

It takes money, patience and a determination to not let the taxis get you down. That and a healthy dose of walking and you’re in business.

So yesterday we went by the Artisanat for the Marche Maroc Craft Fair. Rebecca and Tim have done a great job with it and the artisan exhibits are well done. Hopefully the sales match the foot traffic-very busy indeed. Had a chance to say hi and catch up with a lot of the PCVs and artisans. I also met the women from Build a Nest for the first time. Pamela and I accompanied them to the Jardin Majorelle. It was good to get more information on how they operate and connect for potential follow up with Adwal.

Pamela and I made our way back to the riad for the pedicures and manicures we had scheduled. Mine were great, but Pamela’s left a lot to be desired, so we decided we needed a beverage…of the alcoholic sort. No small task in Morocco, but we were up to the challenge. Caught and paid a ransom to a petit taxi to take us to a zwin hotel for dinner. Informed upon arrival that they were all booked and we couldn’t even get in the door for a drink. Took another taxi to Bab Ksour to go to another restaurant I know of-all booked. We finally made it back to the CafĂ© Arabe (eaten there before) and were in luck-they had a table available. After a lengthy and in retrospect, humorous, attempt at getting a martini (how can you be "out of" dry martinis?)for Pamela, we had dinner and a drink and a fresh air walk home.

I made the mistake, or good fortune, however you view it, to turn on CNN last night before going to sleep. Got an update on the ash plume from the volcanic eruption in Iceland that is wreaking havoc on European travel-most airports shut down, incl. Frankfurt, which Pamela is supposed to fly thru tomorrow night. I wake up around 2:30 am to find her online and wake up to try to help out. She woke worried about her flight and we both got online, she Skyped w/boyfriend Paul and made plans to stay overnight at the Casablanca airport tomorrow night, assuming that her flight is cancelled. We’ll punt from there, as who knows when she’ll be rescheduled.

Today was our day for tourism-and we were very successful at it. Started by walking to the Saadian Tombs, carriage ride to and tour of the Bahia Palace, then off to the Ben Yousef Medersa. Taxi for just the right price. Pamela found a shop along the walk to the Medersa that had just about every gift she wanted to buy-and all at very fair prices, negotiated just a bit, where all felt they made a good deal. The Medersa may be my favorite building in Morocco-both ornate and simple, with a unique serene feel to it.

We’d been on our feet since around 10am and it was 3:30 w/o lunch. Needed a quick stop before the Artisanat at 4pm. Stopped at a hotel/bar next to the Artisanat for a poolside beer and sandwich-just the respite needed. Made it just in time to the Artisanat for a meeting on the Marche Maroc Rabat Craft Fair-the 3rd in the series, coming up in 3 weeks.

We had made reservations for dinner tonight at the La Moumania Hotel’s Marocaine Restaurant. This is the place that turned us away from even entering last night since we didn’t have a reservation, and who knows why we still wanted to go there. Nevertheless, we did, and the guys at the entrance asked for all but our firstborn just to walk inside the gate. An impressive, ornate, elegant, formal, beautiful, and rather sterile hotel. We had a ($20) drink in this rather surreal/formal bar before heading in for our dinner reservation. Had to walk thru their immense, beautiful garden to the restaurant where we had THE most delicious Moroccan meal. Cannot even do it justice. Semolina and walnut stuffed chicken tagine with caramelized pears….date stuffed sea bass with caramelized onions and almond rice. Live Moroccan music combo. Service to spoil you in our own booth. This is not your usual Morocco. And anyone who thinks this place is Morocco has not idea. What a contrast to REK, but a luxurious one beyond belief (no faux Dior here-it's the real thing).

Short taxi home and we’re sleepy-need to catch up on last night’s lost sleep and take tomorrow one step at a time.

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