This morning we started the day with a delicious breakfast with pancakes and ricotta and eggs and a range of olives and jams. We are all so impressed with the Riad Marjana. From the outside places look pretty crummy but once past the threshold it is a different story. They are quite spectacular with beautiful tile work, carved and painted ceilings , lacy decorative archways. The furniture is quite bold in colour and pattern but it all works together.
We set off to visit the King’s palace which had been renovated for his daughter’s wedding about 40 odd years ago. As a gift to the people he also invited 200 poor couples to marry at the same time and gave them all 1000 dirhim. He seems to be a very wise and compassionate leader.
We visited a tile place to see how they make the wonderful mosaics here. Again it is by hand with painstaking chiselling and hand painting. The products were so beautiful I could have bought so many things! I reminded my self that I have downsized!
After the palace we wandered into the old Jewish quarter. This showed all the different types of shops but one caught my eye which had these cream coloured triangular boxes. They are wedding gift boxes. Apparently the groom puts gifts inside the box and gives them to the bride to be.
We went up to a vantage point to get an over view before plunging into the Medina. This labyrinthe of shops was so fascinating but I am sure without a guide we would never have seen as much or even found our way out! The lanes were narrow and twisting. We needed to walk single file most of the time. There were donkeys and mules bringing in provisions and people saying Belak, which means move over or get out of the way.
It was fascinating to see the area of colourful food but we always asked if we could take photos. Anne was going to take a photo but the guy who had his hands in a pile of olives just flicked his fingers at her and flicked oil towards her. Most people though are very pleasant. In fact I have been so impressed by the friendliness and good humour of everyone. Everybody knows our guide and they all say shalom or Salam and hug and kiss cheeks or shake hands. No one seems to be in a frantic hurry.
The tanneries are in the Medina and we were all anxious to see the dye wells. We were expecting it to be overpoweringly smelly but it wasn’t. The tannery people gave us mint to hold and crush under our noses but it was barely necessary. Summer might be different. The workers were up to their waist in the vats and we thought they must absorb over time the dyes into their skin. The first vat is the cleaning one and they use protection against the lime and dung used to soak off the fur though they didn’t immerse themselves in those of course. It was a hive of activity rich with all the colours of the rainbow. Naturally we were directed to the shops that bordered the tannery and Mary bought a gorgeous purple leather jacket, Irene a new red backpack and I succumbed to a small but stylish red backpack too. The prices were good and the quality excellent. The array of colours was mind boggling.
By now we were hungry so our guide took us down a scungey alley to a doorway and inside was a dazzling restaurant where we ate chicken tagine( again) and Moroccan Salad which consists of many little plates of vegetables and dips with bread. We are all putting on weight! People go to so much trouble to prepare food for us that we cannot refuse.
The Medina was full of artisans all using hand tools with no modern technology. Morocco is still in transition from the old ways to the new. Many animals are still used for work and transport.