|To capture this photo I had to zoom through the restaurant’s railing when the customer sitting next to me grumbled when I tried to stand to take this photo. These trees were at least one mile, 1.61 km, away from our location, perhaps more accounting for the blur. But the color amazed us.|
I often mention Tom’s superb sense of direction. When we’re driving or walking I always leave the navigation to him. As a result, I pay no attention to a path we’ve taken in the past and can never retrace our steps. That’s his job as “Chief Navigational Officer!”
|The chair of the person sitting next to me in the restaurant prevented me from standing from my seat at the table. I had no choice but to take this first shot of the sunset last night while seated with this railing obstructing the view.|
However, his usual fine skills are left blowing in the wind when walking through the souks of Marrakech. It truly is a maze. Google Maps/Street has not sent their vehicles through the souk to create accurate navigation in which way to maneuver on foot from location to location in the maze of the souk.
|The sunset a few minutes later than above.|
Also, the roofs in the souk may have an effect on the satellite images. (The assessment of this is not within my range of expertise so I apologize if I’ve stated this incorrectly).
|And then, the sunset, creating this colorful backdrop;|
Although a specific location may be illustrated on the map, from our experiences so far, the directions aren’t accurate. As a result, finding our way to the restaurant is challenging, especially when they’re off the beaten path, as was the case for a restaurant we searched last night, Café Clock, #3 on TripAdvisor.
Finding highly rated restaurants in itself is quite challenging when we no longer want to dine in Moroccan restaurants nor do we always want to take a taxi to go out for a casual meal. International restaurants are in short supply inside the Medina, where any location can be reached on foot, if we can find it.
|This little vehicle appeared to be an ice cream truck.|
Late yesterday afternoon, with two things in mind, we took off on foot. We’d carefully checked the map, able to spot the general location of the restaurant. One was to purchase a black leather belt for me and two, to find Café Clock where we’d have a leisurely dinner.
Finding a location to purchase a belt was as easy as finding a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. There was one after another. We figured it was more practical if we waited until further away from the weekend crowds in the Jemma el Fna, the most popular area of the souk attached to where we live. With fewer crowds, we’d get better service and perhaps a better price.
|At this point, is was approximately 6:00 pm in the Big Square.|
Our guess was good of the service, not so much on the price. I wanted a belt similar to the one I had in my old life that I wore to its death, tossing it after many years of use. Knowing my preferred style made the shopping easier, a wide black belt, without sequins and jewels on it (I usually prefer simple as opposed to bejeweled items).
Another criterion was that the belt would fit well enough that it wouldn’t have a long flapping tail, always an annoyance. The end result; a wide, woven leather black with an adjustable clasp in silver.
|The Big Square was beginning to fill with tourists as the festivities of Friday evening began. Fridays are holy days in Muslim countries and the souk is uncrowded during the day. As the afternoon wears on, the tourists arrive for the weekend, and once again, it’s packed.|
Along the way to the restaurant (so we thought), we spotted a perfect shop in the souk, selling shoes and belts. Preferring the shop owner not show me one belt after another, I showed him my preferred style. He steered us to his backroom where I easily found what I wanted.
Asking him the price, he said US $30.69, MAD 250. We settled at $ US 18.42, MAD 150. My former similar belt was US $25, MAD 203 when on sale at a local boutique in the US.
|The pastry and cooking vendor carts always appeal to me. Tom, on the other hand, who could try some of these, won’t buy one cookie saying none of them appeal to him.|
Sure, I could have purchased it for a few dollars less but based on the soft leather which he claimed was “camel leather” (which may or may not actually be camel leather) and the good construction, I felt the price was fair. Tom grumbled that I’d overpaid when the owner left to install the buckle that I was able to choose. I scoffed at him, saying I was content.
Yes, I’ve read all the online comments about not paying more than 50% of the asking price, and then it may be close to fair retail. But, thoughts ran through my head during this small transaction, that we may have been his only sale for the day in this more remote location in the souk.
|The smoke began to billow as the food vendors starting cooking for Friday night’s dinners under the tents. The smells are amazing.|
As a former business owner I can recall, only too well, all the times that clients asked me to lower my fees. It was a painful decision to make when the cost of doing business was so high. It was only after the market failed in 2008 that I had no choice but to coalesce in making the numbers work for clients, a factor that eventually inspired me to retire a few years earlier than I’d hoped.
When the shopkeeper hesitantly agreed to the MAD 150, I felt comfortable True to form, Tom let it go and we continued on in search of Café Clock which was supposed to be around the corner from Le Jardin, where we’ve dined on several occasions.
|Still unable to stand freely with the people next to us, I shot this photo through the ornate railing. This vendor had four or five other men with him who would pick up the items while yelling, creating an atmosphere of a frenzy in order to attract buyers. Rather clever, isn’t it?|
After walking down every alleyway in the area, after over an hour of searching, we gave up, deciding to go to the Big Square (in the center of the Medina) and find any restaurant whereby the outdoor menu gave us hope for an acceptable meal. As we’ve often mentioned, we prefer to avoid bashing local businesses unless we feel we were intentionally “ripped off.”
A less than desirable meal could be a result of an off day, a cook being out sick, or the lack of ability of the owners and managers of what appeals to their public, a surprisingly common occurrence worldwide.
|We had no idea on the final asking prices on these items that didn’t sell quickly during the frenzied activities over a period of one hour.|
We chose a restaurant on a second level with excellent views of the Big Square. Many tourists chose this location for its good view and wine-drinking only as we noticed the waiter looked surprised when we asked for menus.
Tom ordered what was referred to as an “American” pizza and I ordered two entrees after showing the waiter my restrictions list which included grilled chicken chunks and tagine vegetables. I thought he fully understood: no sugar, no starch, no rice, no potatoes, no wheat, and no grains, clearly illustrated on my food list on my phone. He didn’t.
|A closer look at the pastry cart. Yum…|
My vegetable tagine arrived, half-filled with potatoes (which I removed) and my plate of chicken arrived with a side of rice (which I also removed) and chips (French fries) which I gave to Tom.
Tom said his pizza tasted like frozen pizza which I’d never made for him in our 23 years together. Surely, they’ve improved over the years. But, he ate the chips, the bread, and the pizza (I kept my mouth shut over his carb-laden unhealthy meal) when he hardly likes any available foods in Marrakech. Who eats fries with pizza?
|Moroccan women are not involved in the aggressive selling techniques utilized by men. Most women selling products do so sitting on the ground in the Big Square, not inside the souk. We’ve only seen two women selling in the souk shops, neither of which attempted to get us to make a purchase.|
After dinner, we headed to an ATM to get cash for the halfway mark tips for the staff which we’ll present to them today, explaining more will follow before we leave.
Today, we’ll stay in while we continue to shop for airline tickets for our kids and grandchildren for Hawaii at Christmas time. So far, we’ve purchased five tickets with eight more to go which hopefully we’ll have completed over the next 60 days. Rates change several times a day as we continue to check back every few hours.
We have more good photos than we can share in one day. We’ll be back! BTW, this morning I received an email from Café Clock with their hours of operation which I’d requested yesterday before we tried to locate them. They’re sending us a map. We’ll try it again!
Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2013:
|This photo is from of one of our last night’s out in Belize with Tom ready to tackle this giant Marguerita when we were out to dinner from our next-door neighbor Bill, a friend we’d made while in Belize who was also from the US, formerly living only about 35 from our old house. Small world. For the story from April 4, 2013, please click here.
Note: My computer had the wrong date resulting in my mixing up the photos from the 4th and 5th. The above photo is from April 4, 2013. Tomorrow, we’ll correctly post the photo for April 6, 2013, and we’ll be back on track. Sorry for the confusion.