A Day in the Souks
Trip Start May 04, 2011
125Trip End Oct 08, 2012
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On to the next vendor, the carpet manufacturers. Ahkmid knocked the special code on the closed door and we were welcomed into a large room filled with rolled up rugs. They sat us in another large open space, served us the specialty tea and proceeded to pull out at least 50 rugs during our visit. Lowell had intentions to buy an 8’x5’ until he heard the prices. The salesman went through his pitch, showing us the difference in quality between the Berbers, the Arab and the ?. Their biggest shtick is holding a lighter up to the rugs and showing that the flame doesn’t penetrate the wool. He also burns off a strand from each to have us smell the difference between quality hair and a synthetic. There were a total of three men who sole job is to lift, roll out and refold as many rugs as the salesman instructs him to grab
Ahkmid led us to a stall to eat a lamb in a pita style sandwich. Lowell ordered one with a tomato, avocado and onion salad. Wearied eye, after tasting Lowell’s I wished I had ordered my own. Next, Ahkmid steered us down one alley, turning several times and ending in an antique shop. As gorgeous as the large pieces were, the price and shipping was prohibitive. What caught Lowell’s eye were these hand blown perfume bottles with sterling silver filigree and in an array of primary colors. He purchased four with help of my negotiation skills, including one in the shape of a man’s bust as a gift for his gay friend.
The only thing left was to hit the leather factories. Ahkmid chose one that got us in the mood but had nothing in my size. We had fun in the process though as it was Lowell’s turn to be dressed up in the local garb with hookah in hand and captured on film. Now in the theme of leather, Ahkmid saw dollars signs and was sure to bring us to yet another leather shop. Within seconds of entering I pulled down a cute brown, cropped jacket with buttons and a nice cut across the back. Not loving the fact that that it had buttons rather than a zipper, I proceeded to try on 10 or so other versions; even considered having one made custom. In the end, I fell in love with that first brown one and combined with a beautiful brown one for Lowell, I haggled a deal for us to leave with both at a decent price, including shortening the arms.
Nicknamed Berber Woman for my ability to haggle as tough as a local, we concluded that haggling is my new sport
Completely done with spending and left with no money, we took care of business. I got a sim card for the phone and used the ATM. We parted ways with Ahkmid, who had to go home to his kids and grabbed a petite taxi back to the Riad. We cleaned up and headed over to the New City to a recommended restaurant called Al Fassia. The write up in our guidebook raved about the food and how it is an establishment run solely by Muslim women. The atmosphere was perfect and we were pleasantly surprised that Said from the Riad had already arranged for us to enjoy the house specialty, lamb with aubergine which requires a day in advance notice. We started the meal with 12 different small plates of vegetables.
The night was young, even though it was approaching 11:00PM. We had to make a decision if we were going to book an excursion to Ouzoud Waterfalls in the High Atlas Mountains or go see the largest complexes of traditional packed-earth buildings of Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, hence its place on the UNESCO World Hertiage list. In the end, we opted to forgo all tours and enjoy the night in the city. We learned of a fantastic night club called Comptoir from some local patrons at the restaurant. The club was multi-level, filled with trendy, good looking Europeans and bottle service. Lowell and I blended in the best we could in our tennis shoes, as we sucked on a hookah and danced the night away. Lowell placed bills in the belly dancer’s pants as I jumped around to hip hop, it was a great night.