Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Morocco, From The Airport To My Riad


Other than a scramble to fill out an Immigration Card, once inside the airport terminal, the no visa entry process into Morocco is fast and simple.


Sony 007 Just outside customs, I exchange some dollars at 7.8 to 1 for the local currency, the dirham.





Upstairs at the airport cafe for D$30 I purchase an internet card to find out what I have been missing for the last twelve hours. Absolutely, nothing.


From the cafe, I stop at the local information booth where I am told my hotel is somewhere in Old Medina and will be an adventure to find if I take a bus into town. I am up for the challenge and head for Bus No.19 at he far end of the terminal. It is only a D$20 fare compared to D$100 plus for a taxi.



Sony 008Approaching a relatively empty, so far,  Djemma Al Fna.






The sounds of trotting carriage horses, beeping car horns, rumbling motorcycles, music and the hypnotic tunes of snake charmers fill the air as I approach the open market square.



Sony 004 With no real love for snakes, I learn rather quickly to keep my distance from the snake charmers who think it is cute to put one around your neck for a few dirhams.


No thanks, I am fine without that experience.


Besides, the snake charmers there are other entertainers and vendors that would gladly free you of a few dirhams. Some worthwhile, others certainly not. A midget strolling with a violin is cute but his first note has my ears screaming for protection.



Sony 023 Hot Dates And Nuts Stand


The scene here is a good introduction to Djemma El Fna, Square of The Dead, which I understand is even more interesting at night. Passing numerous fresh orange stands along with dates and nuts vendor I enter “The Souk” in search of my hotel.

I am now a rat in a maze looking for that elusive piece of cheese. The souk is a never ending connection of narrow streets and alley ways lined with all types of merchants.



Sony 009 I have no doubt it was specifically designed that way to keep you trapped.






At one point sensing my dilemma, a merchant offers to help me, well sort of help.  He claims to be familiar with the area and I follow his lead although I am still lost as I do so. Eventually, we exit the souk and enter a narrow alley lined with tall sun blocking buildings.



Sony 010 A turn here, a turn there, another here then there, finally I arrive at my riad (hotel).





A bit of haggling from D$50 to D$20 and my self appointed guide walks away disgusted and disappointed that I would not give him more dirhams for his help. My first experience with the common haggling process in Marrakech. The lesson learned is to set a price before you accept help or agree to any arrangement.

I feel a bit of guilt that soon vanishes as I am comforted that there are always winners and losers in the haggling process here.

This time I think I won!





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