Saturday, May 27, 2006

So I arrived in Marrakech late yesterday afternoon. This time I decided that I would be smart and NOT drive in the center of town, but rather park in a garage outside of town and take a taxi to the hotel - definitely a good thought on my part, but there are additional complications in Marrakech... At least in Casablanca my hotel was on a main road; in Marrakech it is in the heart of the medina. The first cab that I got into had no idea where to go; so he just dropped me off goodness knows where. The second cab driver lived in the area of the address that I had; so he dropped me off on the edge of what I thought was the medina (no cars are allowed in the old part of the city because the streets are so narrow.) Two young men could see that I was lost so they offered to help me find my way. Pretty soon I had a pack of children following me trying to help me find my way down the narrow streets (not of the medina it turns out, but of another part of town). We found the address that I had written down, but it was clearly a private residence, not a riad. I suggested that I call the riad to get directions, so the children took me to a little phone booth store (3 booths and two cats). I changed some dollars into coins and we tried dialing several times, but the children clearly did not know when to use the country code, the area code, etc. Finally we figured out the correct numbers to dial and I was connected. Unfortunately, I had just enough time to tell the guy at the riad that I was lost before my money ran out. I changed some more money and dialed again (this time I was smart and put in lots of money first) but then I got the answering machine (and I lost all of my money! Not so smart after all I guess...) The third time the children and I worked out a plan where I would talk and they would feed money into the phone at the same time. So me and two boys squeezed into the booth and they deposited coins (which kept falling thorough the phone instead of sticking - much to their amusement) while I talked. The hotel owner told me to go to the Place Jemaa-El-Fna where I was to call again and someone would come get me. As it turns out, the Place was about a half an hour walk from where we were. Two of the older boys generously volunteered to take me there. At the end, I got there and tipped them each 100 dirhams for their help - about 12 dollars each. It was worth it! I never would have found the riad on my own. (The picture below is of part of the medina; unfortunately I did not get a picture of my two heros...)


(photo of Marrakech street removed)

The riad that I am staying at - Riad El Zohar - is absolutely gorgeous!! A riad is a traditional Moroocan house (usually for the wealthy) with an interior courtyard. My riad is elaborately decorated. Here is one photo, but you will have to wait until I edit my pictures to see the rest...

(photo or Riad El Zohar removed)

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