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Today we went to the Gardens of Majorelle, where the ashes of the garden’s owner, a fashion  designer, Yves Saint-Laurent San Loren, are scattered. The garden has species representing 5 continents and over 500 species. Inside of the gardens the walls and columns are painted vivid cobalt blue and details were coated in an electric yellow. After dodging cars and MBK motor bikes this gem of tranquility was much welcomed; all of the anxiety I felt was gone as I wandered the yellow blue and orange pot lined paths bordered by bamboo railings.  Since we had planned on going to the markets after the garden I emptied my camera bag except all non valuable items; after checking my cameras battery I decided the extra wasn’t necessary. As we were about to leave the garden my batteries died so I figured we could swing by the riad and pick up the spare that was already charged.

On the walk back from the garden before we passed our riad I heard the familiar sound of protesters except that I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Luckily Ola brought my point and shoot camera so I took it and asked her to stay put while I went into the mix to take some pictures. Of course there would be someone waving a Che flag and someone else was waving a Palestinian flag and behind the front rows of the march there was a car with 4 big speakers mounted on the roof leading the protesters in the chant. When I came back I luckily ran into Ola away from where she originally decided she would wait for me. Some random guys started asking is I was her husband or boyfriend or what and bothering her so she went to stand by a group of cops; they told her the protest was about Moroccans not having work, which I didn’t believe.

Video of the chant

After going back to the riad and resting a few minutes we went to the Je-ma al-ifna plaza to look for the snake charmers and monkeys and to wander the suq or narrow winding market filled streets. Right when we hit the edge of the jema al ifna Ola freaked out and nearly ripped off my arm when she saw the cobras moving to the flutes. Then she pointed out the monkey on a chain doing flips; I took a picture from about 40 yards away and next thing you know the guy is in front of me and put the monkey on my arm. I jerked my arm away and the monkey jumped onto the guys shoulder as he yelled something about if I want a picture I have to pay him. I think many of the unspectacular spectacles that take place in this area are merely a diversion for the real performers, the pickpockets.

Being lost in the Suq is a never ending cycle of leather purses belts, wallets and bags that have been colorfully stained, traditional head to toe robe like outfits adorned with sequins and glitter, ceramic tajines (a two part ceramic vessel for cooking which has a conical lid), brass and silver teapots and serving trays, hanging lamps, fabric, rugs and blankets, herbs and spices and things made of wood and traditional, pointy-toed, leather, shoes. Everything in the suq can be bargained for so taking the first price would be a huge ripoff. Ola insisted on stopping at what seemed like every store along the way even though they all were selling essentially the same thing. She ended up buying a few things but still needed to get her and her brother a shirt. It must have taken about 15 minutes before she told the guy she wouldn’t pay his 100 Dirham for two shirts and we walked out. We made it two doors down and he came chasing after us saying he would sell them for 70 dirham she said I have 50 Dirham he said no so we kept on; a few doors down he caught up to us and said he would sell them for 50 Dirham.

 

We asked around and finally made our way back to the main plaza; Ola was thinking of getting a small henna tattoo on her hand so she asked some veiled ladies and a guy sitting under an umbrella how much. Before they answered they put out a stool for her to sit down and handed her a book of designs which she started flipping through. The guy loaded a syringe minus the needle with a brown pasty substance and handed it to the lady nearest Ola. The lady took Ola’s hand and drew a curvy line up from her index finger to about her elbow then continued adding more “details”. Ola’s eyes showed fury; first of all it was way bigger than she wanted and she wanted black henna not brown. When the lady finished Ola asked how much and the lady just said “you give me good price” not knowing what to offer she asked me in Polish. We had been practicing the numbers 1-10 for the past day or two so she asked me “pinge?” so the henna lady wouldn’t understand; neither did I. she asked me how much in English and I wrote the number 50 with my finger on her back so I took out a 50 and handed it to Ola. When she gave it to the henna lady she was upset that it was “so little”; finally they took it and we left.

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