Time is ticking away…19 days and counting until departure…

Orange trees are often seen growing in the center courtyards of restaurants including where we dined last night, Arabe.

As we rapidly approach, our departure time, now only 19 days away, we marvel at how quickly the time begins to fly as usual, regardless of our level of enjoyment and activity.

Reducing our load over the past year, packing is no longer a dreaded task, requiring only three hours or less in order to place everything into the Space Bags from which we’ll suck the air using our little handheld vacuum. 

Once we’re down to one week, I’ll begin sorting and folding, with all of our clothing inside cupboards as opposed to drawers. In a cupboard, the clothing seems to get messy.

A quiet area in a souk while on our way to dinner. Although there were no crowds in this area last night, we had to be careful where we walk with many grates, manhole covers, and tripping hazards.

Fortunately, TAP (Portugal) doesn’t have strict baggage requirements, making this flight and the next when we leave on August 1st to fly to Paris, less of a concern than ever in the past. 

Yesterday, I placed a shipping order with our mailing service located in our home state of Nevada, Maillinkplus.com, to ship all the supplies we’ve ordered for a shipment to be sent to Madeira. When we need items, we take advantage of free shipping when available by various websites having it all shipped to the mailing service. 

Many US websites don’t ship outside the US. Nor, do we want packages arriving piecemeal when the risk of losing a few may be high when shipping oversees. As a result, with our large mailbox at the mailing service each year, we can accumulate all of our orders waiting for the upcoming shipment to wherever we may be at the time. The staff at Maillinkplus.com removes all the boxes and shipping materials, placing the individual items in one large box to be shipped to us.

The view from our table at Arabe Restaurant, where we dine each week. The waiters have come to know us always offering excellent service. 

Once they inform us of the cost, we place the amount we owe into our account with Maillinkplus.com which they use to pay the shipping costs. They research the best pricing for us. In this particular case, using UPS Express is less expensive than DHL or FedEx and safer and more reliable than USPS.

Madeira is an island 604 miles from the coast of Portugal. As is the case with any island, the cost of shipping is higher than one might expect. For us, it’s a cost we’ve budgeted. When our order arrives, we’ll post photos of its contents.

Gina, the lovely property owner of the house in Ribeira Brava lives across the street from the house we’re renting. The package will be sent to her house to hold until our arrival.

Another view from our table.  Deep colors are commonly seen on walls
in various establishments.

Need I say that we’re excited to arrive in Madeira? The upcoming beautiful contemporary house overlooking the ocean will be a dramatic change from the crowded, busy lifestyle of living in a souk for the past two and a half months. 

Although enriched by the experience of the cultural differences in Morocco, we anticipate the slower pace of Madeira with enthusiasm. With a rental car for the entire period, we’ll have the freedom to explore its many treasures on our own time. With summer approaching, Madeira has much to offer as well as a quiet respite we’ll surely relish in our new surroundings.

Last night, we headed out for dinner, once again making our way through the busy souks. By late Friday afternoons, the weekend tourists fill the souks anxious to shop, negotiate, and buy what they may perceive as the “deals of the century.” 

My dinner, referred to a Kefta, includes meatballs, tomato sauce, and eggs dropped into the hot mixture, all befitting my way of eating.  I always order a side of grilled vegetables.

No offense is intended regarding this common tourist activity. At one point in my life, I too, loved the shopping in foreign lands, falling prey to the purported “bargains.” The shop owners are on alert harking their wares to those shoppers whose eyes happen to steal a peek at their products, all of which are neatly displayed ad ready for sale minus any marked prices. 

Last night, after dinner we stopped in a shop to see if we could find a leather computer backpack.  With this Tom could carry both of our laptops leaving his hands free. In the past, we were opposed to backpacks due to the risk of someone putting something illegal into them or taking something out. But, as time marched on, we’ve come to realize that a lock would be an ideal solution if, in fact, we found the correct style.

Luckily, the shop owner spoke some English seeming to understand what we were looking for. When he didn’t have what we wanted, he asked us to wait while he left the shop, returning five minutes later with a leather laptop bag to which he’d attached backpack straps. 

Tom’s pasta dinner, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese includes a side of bread with no vegetables. He doesn’t care for vegetables except for green beans and carrots which he’ll eat when Madame Zahra cooks.

As a courtesy, Tom tried it on although I could tell that no way would this setup work as a backpack. The shop owner explained that he’d work on it overnight making it a suitable backpack with the proper positioning of the straps, even adding padding.

Out of curiosity, I asked him the price of the backpack considering the adjustments he’d make overnight.  He quickly quoted 700 dirhams, US $86.18. Without giving it a thought, not interested in the bag, Tom said, “Too much,” as he grabbed my hand and walked away.

A photo of the colorful flip flops and shoes taken while on the move. Most vendors won’t allow photos of their wares.

Immediately, the shop owner yelled after us, “100 dirhams (US $12.31), monsieur!” Wow! That’s quite a price reduction! In any case, the bag wouldn’t work for us and we left. 

In a way, I felt sorry for him. For him to willingly drop the price to what would surely give him little to no profit was evidence of a desperate need to make a sale. With many of the shops frequently empty with numerous “lookie loo’s” drifting by, we can see how difficult it would be for a vendor to make a living.

Most of the vendors spent 12 hour days sitting on little stools outside their shops hoping to make a sale. The vendors are usually men. Women are rarely seen selling in the shops although they may be found in the Big Square offering baked goods or non-permanent tattoos while they sit on little stools under umbrellas. 

Tomorrow, we’ll be discussing our observations on the obvious distinct roles of men and women in Morocco, a real eye-opener for us.

Photo from one year ago today, April 26, 2013:

Due to the storm, taking photos was not a priority on this particular date. As an alternative, here is a photo taken the prior day. For detail of the post on April 26, 2013, please click here.

Every night, while we were at dinner, the cabin steward would place an animal made of towels on the bed. This was a monkey. Also, there would be chocolates on our pillows and an agenda for the next day’s activities. 

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