After eating breakfast we wandered around and found the terrace. Along the top of one of the walls there were shards of broken glass cemented in like makeshift barbed wire. When we came back down and grabbed our things the owner gave me a card with his email and asked me to send him some of my photos and wished us “bon voyage”. Before we could leave Ola asked him if he could exchange some Euros for Dirhams so we could stop and buy some snacks for our train ride to Marrakech, which strangely he did without question.
At the corner store a boy and his sister and mom were hanging around. When I asked if the boy wanted a picture he lit-up but his mom and sister dodged the photo, then they all crossed the street. When we were asking for stuff from the store the boy crossed the street and asked to see the photo and asked for a second then he tried to help us as we were picking out some snacks; we bought him a candy bar.
We still needed cash so we wandered into town looking for an “eh-shan-juh”; the first place had no money then the next 3 banks were closed so we resorted to just withdrawing money from an ATM, not knowing if we would be gouged with fees. We thought we had better get to the train station so we got hailed a taxi. I tried asking him “bshal gar Sale” (how much for Sale train station) but all I got was confusion. Then Ola said the same thing and he said 20 Dirhams in Arabic.
We got to the station thinking that we were going to have to wait a few hours but some Arabic guy gave us the wrong time so we were early meaning we needed to catch the train in about 5 minutes. When we got on the train it was packed and we didn’t see any seats together so we checked another train car and found two with an old couple. Just as I got settled we pulled into the next station.
I had just put the lens cap on my but immediately pulled it back off, hearing all the chanting I knew there were going to be cool photo opportunities; there were soccer fans rioting at the station. I almost knocked the guy across from me over trying to get out of my seat to go to the door of the car to take photos. A ton of kids and young people were shoulder to shoulder jumping and singing waving flags and scarves of their team. I panicked and didn’t take my time to make sure my cameras settings were right so many other wise good photos were blurred but I think I got a few good pictures including some of people giving me the finger; not sure what I did but I am going to assume they were from the loosing team.
At a stop somewhere after the riot the old couple got off and some young, well dressed guy got on and sat across from us. I was asking Ola how to say something In Arabic and he corrected me in English. We started talking and I asked him how his English is so good and he said he uses it every day in his job; when I asked he said, “it’s classified” so I let it go.
At the train station in Marrakech we decided to try to find our Riad, where we will be staying, on foot even though it was a little hike into town. Avery block we would stop and ask someone if we were on the correct path. As we got closer we could see the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque. We asked a young professional looking lady if she knew in which direction we could find our Riad; She insisted on walking us all the way to the front door which was a good 10 minute walk. The entry way to the riad, which seems as if it were about to crumble and fall apart, was supported by a wood column that is nothing more than a tree trunk or branch a tad bigger than a baseball bat. When she left I forgot to hand her some money for helping so I ran back out and caught her but she refused to take it but after the third time she accepted it.
Once again on the outside we felt like we were going into the slums but on the inside beautiful, bright blue and white tiles laid the background for vibrant splashes of red fabric. In the center courtyard there were huge pillows and low tables and a small tree planted in the ground. Our room had the traditional Arabic keyhole arch that was closed by two big wooden doors on a strange hinge system; the doors locked with a sliding metal bolt and locked with a generic looking master lock. The shower walls, countertop and shelves were made from a tan concrete, I guess, which looked and felt like clay that had been burnished.
We went out to check out the “ja-ma Al if-na”, which is a huge plaza where there are performers and men with monkeys and snake charmers and ladies giving henna tattoos. Unfortunately it was pretty dead and most of what should have been there wasn’t. We were both hungry so we got pulled into one of the makeshift restaurants that are set up each evening in the plaza. Ola was excited to try some of their lentils, which were 7 Dirhams (70 cents) including a whole pita; we ended up ordering another one. I wanted to try some couscous so we went looking for somewhere that sold it; we settled on a place with a nice setup with bowls of everything laid on a bed of parsley. Ola got so excited because she couldn’t find it in Spain, the guy gave her a piece, which she ate without hesitation; what she didn’t realize is that he pulled it from the spot where skewers of raw meat were sitting. Somewhere in the middle of eating the guy that roped us into eating there said to a group of Spaniards, “ Mas barato que Mercadona, major que Dia” ola was actually the one who heard it but we asked him to repeat it. Its saying the food is cheaper than one supermarket in Spain and better quality that another… maybe you have to have lived and shopped at these places to get it.
Afterwards we stopped at a stand and got some of the best orange juice I have ever tasted, fresh squeezed right in front of us, served in a real glass for only 4 Dirhams. Both stuffed to the brim we both felt like we should weave our way back through the dusty streets, veiled women and poorly tuned scooters and call it a night.