Winding down our time in Marrakech.. Sexist steaks in Morocco?…A year ago treasure of the ancient world…

The ATM is near the entrance to the Medina.

Last night, we headed out to the souk to make our way to one of the few ATMs in the Medina, one closer to the souk and another close to the exit to the Medina, quite a walk.

We’re not intimated with long walks. With the continuing necessity for me staying covered up to avoid being bitten by sandflies, the walk in the sun at 93F, 34.4C was challenging. The small bottle of relatively ineffective insect repellent has proved of little value, now with the bottle almost empty. At US $25 there’s no sense in purchasing another bottle. 

Exiting the souk to an outdoor area in the Medina.

It has worked to keep my hands from being bit further but there wasn’t enough in the tiny bottle to cover my entire body every day. Thus, the necessity of wearing jeans, a long-sleeved BugAway shirt, and heavy socks are my mode of dress through our remaining time in Morocco. Tomorrow, the temperature will be 104F, 40C. 

Last night, I wore a long cotton dress to bed topped with a long sleeve shirt. The two bites I got on Thursday kept me awake most of the night with my knee and thigh both swollen, red, hot, and pulsating.

At the entrance to another souk.

I tried everything we had on hand including a jar of prescription cortisone cream that I found in the prescription bag. Nothing helped. I didn’t scratch having learned weeks ago that it merely prolongs the discomfort. One might think, “Get a grip. It’s just a sandfly bite!”

But, these are no little bites. I can only compare these bites to the types of discomfort from getting a horsefly bite years ago on my hand which swelled to the size of a baseball mitt, painful and itching for weeks.

We took advantage of walking in any shaded areas.  Friday, which is the Islamic holy day, the souks and Medina are less crowded.

Enough about that. We continued our walk to the closer ATM only to discover it was “closed.” Our only alternative was the walk through the Big Square in the sun to the other ATM. 

We have yet to pay the household staff for the second portion of their tips before departing, requiring a few ATM visits. The machines only dispense MAD 2000 per visit (US $249.99) certainly not enough for tips for all four staff members, the cart guy to bring our luggage to the road, and the taxi fare and tip for the ride to the airport.

Undercover at the ATM where there are multiple machines.

We always attempt to be left with no local cash when leaving each country with the outrageous exchange rates once outside the country in which the money was issued. Monday, we’ll go out again for more cash and dinner since we plan to stay in today and tomorrow due to the extreme heat.

With only two remaining dining options in the souk, we headed back to Café Arabe, where I’d found the noodle in my food last week. This time, I ordered a plain grilled steak and a side of butter sautéed vegetables, not cooked in the reused pasta water. Our usual waiter hadn’t forgotten last week’s faux pas agreeing to cook the vegetables himself.

The ATM stations are not guarded as they were in Kenya and South Africa.  Surprisingly, the Medina and souks are safe during the day with guards at various locations. Of course, one must take the usual precautions against pickpockets.

We’ve noticed an oddity when we’ve both ordered filet Mignon in Moroccan restaurants. As a female, I always get the smaller steak, and each time we’ve ordered I’ve forgotten to ask for the man-size steak. Eyeballing Tom’s larger steak, he always cuts off a portion of his for me. 

When eating only a small steak and veggies, it’s hardly satisfying. He usually has chips (fries), and bread to fill him up. Plus, I prefer rare to his medium-rare.  His larger steak is usually rare to my small medium-rare.

The heat of the scorching sun will only increase over the next week.

Soon, we’ll cook our own steaks to perfection in Madeira on the grill on the veranda overlooking the ocean. Last night, contemplating the excitement of cooking for ourselves, I made a grocery list on the Grocery Tracker app on my phone, a nifty app I’ve used over the past several years.  Here’s the link to download this excellent free app.

As I write here now it 11:30 am, later than the usual earlier time of 10:00 am, Morocco time. Tom’s sitting beside me in the salon listening to his favorite radio show from Minnesota, US, Garage Logic Sports, an adjunct to his usual show, Garage Logic.  Here’s the link to the podcast.  At the moment their discussing the NFL draft picks for the Minnesota Vikings, the only sports team he follows. 

A garden shop in the Big Square.

Later I’ll continue to listen to Day Five of a free 12-day seminar with many of the speakers espousing the benefits of my life-changing diet for diabetics and for those with many other health conditions. If you or someone you know may be interested in this free three hour per day podcast, please click here

I should have mentioned this sooner since they’re already into Day Five but with seven more days remaining, much more valuable information is available. These are many of the top doctors and medical professionals in the world on the topic of inflammation, the source of most diseases.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a wonderful day as many of you ramp up to celebrate Mother’s Day tomorrow.

Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2014:

We were surprised as we stood looking a The Great Sphinx of Egypt one year ago today. It was much smaller than one might expect. I purposely left the tops of two tourist’s heads as a frame of reference for the size. For details from that date, please click here.

It’s a fairyland…Full of magical sights…If not for food and shopping…Why are we here?…

Out for an early dinner, we had a bird’s eye view of the Big Square.

As we walked through the Jemaa el Fna souk yesterday, we passed a carpet shop. The hip-looking well-dressed owner looked directly at us and said, “Want to go for a magic carpet ride?”

A wide variety of women’s clothing is displayed in both the souk and in the Big Square.

We chuckled aloud, along with another couple walking next to us. The old city isn’t as old as it appears.  Everywhere you look, young nicely dressed salesmen, rarely women, manage the shops in the souk, smartphones in hand, fingers flying in text or game mode. Times have changed.

A postcard and newspaper stand in the Big Square.

Modern looking clothing, similar in appearance to clothing one may find in their modern local mall, hang from neatly arranged displays. Oh yes, there is the expected belly dancer outfits that one may purchase for a flirty girlfriend or as an outfit to be worn to a costume party. 

Cats are respected and revered in the souk and the walled city. The shop owners feed and care for them and yet they don’t “belong” to anyone. We see them everywhere roaming about the streets with little fear of humans.
These four cats were on a rooftop.  Gingerly, they move from rooftop to rooftop.

Many of the shops contain the long robes worn as everyday clothing by the locals with matching scarves for the modesty required for women by the Muslim faith. 

The Medina and souks is guarded by local police. Overall, it feels safe in the walled city, although one must be careful of pickpockets as one would anywhere in the world.

Overall, the merchandise is geared toward the tourist anticipating negotiating the bargain of their lives for an excellent price from an owner. Most often, they may pay a similar price at the local mall, a short taxi ride outside the Medina. 

Locals commiserating in the Medina.

The owners may purchase the item for US $10, ask for US $40, and settle at US $25, a seeming win-win for everyone. It’s all part of the process that travelers experience in any country they visit. To buy or not to buy.  To stop and look, or not.

Playful interaction among the locals as they await their next “job.”

What often amazes us is the dedication and hard work of the vendors as they must continually procure new prospects to enter their shops, to hopefully make a purchase. Did any of us ever have to work at a job where we continually had to bark at passersby in an effort to attract them for a sale? 

It could have been a bake sale at a local church bazaar or at a flea market in an effort to sell homemade craft items we somehow believed that people would flock to, and yet they didn’t. We’ve all been there.

Ordering hot tea, this tray was delivered to me. The mint-flavored tea was delicious and the water stayed hot in a little silver pot, often seen for sale in the souk. Apparently, the locals utilize similar tea trays and pots when sipping on tea in the souk.

It goes against the grain of our humanity to pester potential shoppers to buy something. In a sad way, we equate it to begging. Our nature and desire is to simply display our hard gotten wares and buyers will come.  Not the case as any person with a job or a career in sales so well knows. You have to “be in their face” in order to get results.

These rolls are often served with meals as in this case for Tom’s dinner.  No butter is served at any of the establishments we’ve visited.  When asked, the waiters explain that buerre, French for butter, is not available.

I commend these hard-working people as we wander through the souks; the older generation selling peanuts in the shell, the middle-aged well-dressed man selling women’s modern-day dresses, the young man playing a game on his phone, frequently looking up to invite potential customers into his grandfather’s pottery store or the butcher behind the bright lights and his hanging slabs of meat, hoping locals and self-catering tourists will partake of his fresh meat. 

It appears that salad is my only “safe” meal when dining out. This Nicoise salad, a vegetable and egg salad with canned tuna had potatoes on it which I removed. Tom, good Irishman that he is, will eat a potato in any form.

It’s no job any of us would choose. And yet, generations of vendors line the souk and the Big Square as tourists from all over the world long to partake of the unique excitement and energy one only finds in faraway exotic places. Or, a Tom mentioned one day, “In a lot of ways, it’s not unlike the State Fair.” So true.

Amid the various satellite dishes, a common sight in the walled city, sits a local enjoying the view from his rooftop as darkness fell.

For us, making purchases, however, tempting is impractical. We don’t own a kitchen cabinet to hold the pretty plates or a wall on which to display a handmade tapestry either made locally or imported from India or China.

Back down on the street, we made our way back to or riad. Having failed to wear jackets, we headed back.  We’ve since learned that wearing jackets at night is a must, even on warm weather days as the nighttime temperature drops considerably.

Tourists come to Marrakesh to eat and to shop. For us, we must look deep inside the culture to discover the wonders it beholds beyond food and wares. Perhaps, in essence, that is a more interesting perspective for us to pursue as we strive to glean every possible treasure from this magical place for which we don’t need a carpet, as opposed to an open mind and heart.