Monday, our plan was to visit the world renowned Majorelle Gardens (owned by Yves since 1980) in the am and to ‘get lost in the souk’ post lunch.
The plan went to plan.
Sometime the evening previous, we had been renamed by our porter. Thus Fatima (yea, not yours truly), Aisha and Leila jumped a cab to view some greenery.
Jacques Majorelle laid out twelve acres of stunning in the 1920’s just beyond the medina in Marrakech.
Yves St Laurent made it more so. He lived here and his ashes still do.
The coffee was yum, the café’s environs beautiful and the price, most acceptable.
The silk scarf I bought in homage to Yves, not quite as cheap but really, really nice. Thankfully, I’d forgotten my wallet so Fatima paid for it.
Declining the kind offer of a guided tour of Morocco from our taxista, we returned to the riad for our midday repast. Diverted by, I cannot for the life of me remember what, we veered confidently into souk outskirts for a quick recce (trans: recon) in advance of the main event – getting lost later.
We even ventured into a nice man’s shop. So nice was he in fact, we accepted his generous and one off offer, to show us Berber women making carpets. Was it the promise of chin tattoos that attracted us, his ruggard good looks or just an overabundance naive innocence? Goodness only knows, but as the ‘just round the corner’ walk grew into something more, we contemplated escape.
Why did we not escape? Too British? Hey, I’m not even British.
Through the wooden door, down two flights of stairs, along corridors, alleyways and through people’s living rooms we went in search of bearded carpet makers.
Fatima assured us she knew where we were and how we were getting out. Aisha needed the loo and I was just trying to keep my borrowed zebra print, slip on shoes, on.
We were introduced to our fifth Mustafa. This one was dressed in a suit and indicated he would take us to the tattoo bearded ladies who were working their fingers to the bone, for one day only, nearby.
Up two flights of spiral stairs, we arrived here:
Nary a female in sight, let alone one working (with full tattooed beard) on our rugs. Trapped for the duration we drank our mint tea (Aisha only a sip due to bulging bladder) and resigned ourselves to the presentation. The presentation was vigorous and lengthy and full of carpeting.
Apparently they ship anywhere in the world.
Unfortunately, while Aisha got less and less comfortable I, Leila, encountered a moment of enjoyment and asked the price of an orange (my favourite colour) rug.
Let the hard sell begin. With a swift face change, Mr Suit’s patter altered and I managed to get the priced reduced from £800.00 to £200.00 (p and p inc) without opening my bouche. Where we would have ended up I do not know but by this stage Fatima was corralling our full bladdered friend towards the door.
In a last ditch attempt to part me (or Fatima because, of course, I still didn’t have my wallet) from diram, Mr Must Be Very Hot In This Outfit blocked my exit and whispered with steely eye, close breath and a transparent motive, “I can smell your money”.
Just ever so tadaliciously freaky!
We left with alacrity, heading back the way we’d come, Fatima in the lead.
Who remembers the movie, ‘Don’t Look Now’?
She, Fatima, did not have a red coat and, yes, is a smitch larger but the atmosphere was more than similar. More similar when we found the door out, locked. Back through someone’s house we traipsed. More lanes and alleyways later, we realised Mr Suit was going to get another crack at us. We had no choice.
With a dismissive hand he waved us on and into the souk proper.
No lunch, one very full bladder and sore feet – we had got our wish. We were lost in the souk big time. Hours before schedule.
Kind men directed us whichever way they chose.
“Look at my slippers/ handbags/pouffs as seen in Graham and Green,” they chanted.
Some of the product was actually very nice but we had no time – lunch, bladder, blisters, pressing concerns.
Eventually we made it into the ‘security’ of the Djemma el Fna with it’s snakes and nappied ( trans: diapered) monkeys. From here we hobbled homeward, hours late and sporting a few more stress induced grey hairs.
The Moroccan vin blanc, most welcome. It tasted lovely. Relaxed, we planned our dinner venue and menu.
Fatima took direction to our restaurant of choice, a mere five to ten minute walk away.
Would you be surprised to hear that we mislaid said restaurant and its famed lamb tagine?
Once again, Fatima, Aisha and Leila were lost in the souk.