Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shopping, Palace, Palace

We walk through the souks to get pretty much anywhere. The souks are endless, narrow alleys of merchandise sold by very pushy and aggressive men. My first trip through was terrifying--so many people everywhere and the noise and the smell and on top of that, motorcycles and scooters are constantly buzzing by. I was more concerned with getting out in one piece than buying anything!

So when I read in the travel guide about a shop run by a women's collective I knew that was where I wanted to shop. We eventually found it (after being led there by a wonderful older gentleman shopkeeper) tucked in a quiet corner of the souk. First, you have to understand--nowhere in the souks do you see women running a stall. In the open-air market in the squares you'll see women selling things but not in the souks. The stalls in the souks are permanent and owned by the vendor which means exclusively men. So to find a place where I could buy from a woman was a great pleasure and relief for me. I ended up spending nearly all my shopping money there and I have no regrets. I was happy to give them my business.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent touring two former palaces--the Badi Palace and the Bahia Palace. The Badi Palace is only a ruin now, but it was still very impressive. The Bahia Palace is newer and, while empty, is in excellent condition. Both are undergoing restoration and it was interesting to see that work in progress. I took tonnes of pictures (of course) and really enjoyed the experience.

After a little rest up at our riad we headed back to the square to watch the evening action from a terrace cafe. We had a great view of the snake charmers and monkey handlers and a again many pictures were taken.

Today we're of to Meknes and tomorrow Fes and some Roman ruins, but before we leave today we'll be visiting a photography museum which has on display some of the oldest photographs of Morocco and Moroccans.

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