a week at the beach in Essaouria it was time to catch the bus back to Marrakesh
to our next airbnb home. When we booked it, we didn't realize it was less than
a five-minute walk from the first place we stayed! Seems ironic in a city of a million people. The good news was we knew the immediate area and where to find
everything the neighborhood had to offer. And our new friend Rashida, whom we
met at our first airbnb, was nearby for help as needed.
|The view from our seats in the front of the bus. This is typical of most of the roads on the 3 hour journey.|
to our first experience, we staid in a riad. A riad (Arabic: رياض)
is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard.
The word riad comes from the Arabian
term for garden, "ryad". The word is as overused as Kleenex is for
tissues, and has become short for any type of guest house, be it palatial or
otherwise. In this case, the house was well on the side of
|Looking down the ally from our new front door|
riad where we had our first Marrakesh experience was a lovely, tranquil
setting. This new accommodation was more typical of a single family, no
frills house with a hole in the middle. When Rashida stopped in to say hello
she slowly looked around, and
after some thought said "Well...you are getting a chance to really live like a Moroccan". As she left she warned us "Remember it could rain in
here". And with those words she waved goodbye and left us staring upward.
a quick recap; the main floor consisted of a toilet under the slant under the
stairs (a no-go zone for stand-up use) A kitchen the size of a generous broom
closet, the aforementioned open to the sky dining area, and a small room with a
couple of seriously uncomfortable couches and a space heater that we called "the snug". Fortunately the
TV received a couple of English channels and the wifi signal was good because
we spent a lot of time in this room.
|Michael looking forward to my first Tangine in our dark little "snug".|
the next level there were two bedrooms and a larger bathroom with shower. The
shower drain had a plastic covering that needed to be replaced the minute you
finished showering to prevent ancient odors from past civilizations wafting
the top level there was a pleasant terrace, another small sitting room and the
washing machine. And that wide-open, often raining sky. Which brings us back to
the main floor. Maybe we should have looked a little closer at the pictures, or
recalled the review from one woman who complained of wet slippery tiles. Or
maybe we should have considered central heating and a roof in January a good bet in any country.
|I could check the weather from the warmth of our bed|
had to laugh as we dashed from the warmth of our bedroom to the bathroom down
the exposed hallway. It’s not often you step in puddles on the way to the loo!
Then there was the run from ‘the snug’ as we named the main floor sitting room
through the cold main floor to the equally chilly kitchen for yet more tea.
Cooking was a hilarious, and precarious dance in a small space with a very
feisty propane stove. It was cold in the house so I often cooked in a sweater and my down jacket. All those
years on the sailboat prepared me for that – but I hadn’t counted on catching on
fire! “What’s that smell?” I asked myself while preparing dinner. “Burning
goose feathers, that’s what!” The bottom of my down jacket had caught fire
while I was reaching over the stove to grab a pan off the shelf. Fortunately,
there was no bodily harm, but my Uniglo jacket required patching.
|My favorite jacket all patched up for Paris|
|A little rough around the edges - and I have no idea what the patch means, but I like it. |
helped me find a street market tailor and a “scrap store” where we dug through bags of
remnants to find a suitable piece of fabric and what I thought might be a
stylish A&F looking patch. The tailor sewed it all up on the spot. Total
investment $1.50 (about right for the craftsmanship) and I guess I earned my cooking badge.
|Our tour guide Abdul was a great source of information and insight into Moroccan culture|
|The cover of a Moroccan magazine issued shortly after the attacks in Paris|
booked a private walking tour with a lovely guide named Abdul who runs
Marrakesh Guided Tours. He was totally up for any and all political and
religious questions we had. Coming so soon after the tragedy in
Paris it was good to connect with a Muslim person who
loved his country, city and his religion. In fact, we made many wonderful new friends during our time in Morocco.
|My new friend Monsif makes the freshest fish and chips I've ever tasted and his gazpacho was amazing.|
I have the recipe - and he has a sketch by me framed and on the wall of his restaurant, Le Perle Blanche.
fell in love with Moroccan food and wanted to learn more about it so I booked a
day long class at Souk Cuisine. http://www.soukcuisine.com There were just six of us in the class so we
had lots of hands-on experience that included a couple of hours of shopping in
the large marketplace (souk) in the medina.
|Cooking classmates armed with shopping lists and courage|
We were split into teams of two and
given shopping bags, cash and a list of ingredients to gather. Since I already had a couple of weeks of souk shopping under my belt I was prepared for the slaughter of two chickens, the dodging of
vegetables as they were tossed from the seller to the weigher to the
bag boy and ready or not – to you, and
the overwhelming array of spices piled high in cone shapes and overflowing out of feed bags.
Fully loaded we headed to the kitchen
and made a wonderful four course lunch while our instructor Gemma gave us
insights into the cuisine.
|One of three chefs doing prep work while we had tea and learned more about Moroccan cuisine|
|Making authentic couscous is a labor of love - but so delicious. |
finished off the week with a trip to a Hamam. He was rubbed and scrubbed and
felt like a new man.
|Michael apparently steamed off enough weight to top up the snack supplies|
back at the past three weeks we can say that we thoroughly enjoyed our time in
Morocco and hope to explore it further - but even these two seasoned Seattlites wouldn't mind if it didn't rain next time.
Debbie and Michael