A Day in the Souks
Trip Start May 31, 2010
26Trip End Jun 30, 2010
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Walking the streets in itself is an experience. Store proprietors are constantly yelling hello, hola, bonjour, etc. to grab your attention. They walk right up to you and plead their case as to why you should visit their shop. Some proprietors are very relaxed, while others are very aggressive.
As with most of Marrakech, pedestrians are second-class citizens; motor bikes zip through the small streets and beep their horns at you, filling the air with diesel smoke; donkey-pulled carts push past you as their drivers yell "attention"; and an occasional small car tries to impossibly squeeze through crowd
Eye contact with a merchant is instant death - they will aggressively latch onto you and beg you to visit their store. Moroccan haggling is bargaining at a level higher than I have ever experienced. The first challenge is to convert Moroccan dirhams to euros and then euros to dollars. The next step is to ignore the merchant's plea that your price would be less than the item's cost. For the most part, we were able to buy hand-made items for half to one-third of the cost of similar machine-made items.
Even though we had a map of the Medina, we were constantly lost. Fortunately, almost everyone we asked for directions was very friendly and helpful. Occasionally, someone expected money for giving directions. For the most part, the people of Marrakech were great.
Later in the afternoon, we strolled through the main square. During the day, the food booths are gone, replaced by henna artists, trained monkeys and snake charmers. I have only seen pictures of snake charmers, so seeing real Cobras was a real experience (from a distance of 50 feet!).
In the evening, we ate dinner in the Square. We found a food booth serving soup and bread and all five of us ate for less than 30 dirhams (3 dollars). Afterwords, we splurged for a large glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice for 3 dirhams (34 cents).