Sunday, July 13, 2008

Morocco: Day Three: Pedestrians

Sunday. Happy 37th Birthday Jennifer!

We slept 'til 11:00 (6:00 am EDT) unfortunately, and missed the petit dejeuner (breakfast) that is served 8:00 - 10:00, and asked the nice front desk lady where we could get breakfast. She said she'd have breakfast we'd missed brought up to us in the first floor salon.

Breakfast included Moroccan crepes with honey, jam, laughing cow cheese, pain chocolat (chocolate croissant), cold orange juice, coffee and tea. It was great!

We headed out toward the Palais Badi, but it was closed. We wandered around a bit, bought some postcards, and hung out at the Place de la Foucauld park near the market. We weren't there too long before the overly friendly attention of a bum/drunk/mentally ill guy got to be too much.

We returned to the hotel to use our bathroom, since there wasn't any obvious place where all these people on the street go to unload. We went back out to see the Palais (palace). The kids thought it was very cool, which JR and I found surprising. I did take some good pictures though, and lamented the loss of my 40D as I was having trouble making the two cameras I'm using do what I needed them to. I think it is forcing me to be more thoughtful in my picture taking.

Palais Badia


From the Palais we sought a proper park. There was one nearby (on the map) called Cyber Park. It was only a short walk. The park was pretty nice, and filled with olive and citrus trees. We found some benches to rest on, and Zoe managed to get chastised a second time on this trip for putting her shoes where people sit (the first time was in a patisserie (pastry shop) where she sat with her feet on the seat of the chair.)

(btw, Farouz Poire (pear) is my new favorite soda.)

There was an actual cyber cafe in the park where we did a quick e-mail check for 5 dirham/hour. . . a good price.

Back to the hotel where we asked the nice front desk lady where we could find some shawarma شاورما‎ , a middle-eastern equivalent to a Greek gyro.

She pointed out a place on the map a quick back-alley meandering away. We found the restaurant, and along the way a quick exit to a very busy pedestrian street that paralleled the little alleyway we had been using to get to and from our riad.

A word on streets here. Every street may have pedestrians, mopeds, cars, donkey carts, horse-drawn carriages or any combination of the above. Traffic rules are arbitrary, like I mentioned before, but you really can't appreciate it until you've been out walking a while. It's kind of like Korea was, but worse. What is also similar to Korea is the amazing variety of things transported by scooter or moped; families of four, plywood (full sheets), wrapped gifts, firewood, hundreds of eggs, etc. The street our riad is on is literally no wider than five feet (1.5 m) across. Anything in bulk that needs to come to the hotel is probably arriving via hand cart or moped. When on foot, you spend a lot of time and attention avoiding undesired contact with vehicles and people. The rule of thumb is "might makes right" meaning the larger object prevails in any right-of-way conflict.

Back to the shawarma. The restaurant was a standard cafe, and the food was pretty good and more reasonably priced than the big market, just a few minutes away. We searched out ice cream and pastries, which are very heavily French-influenced, but featuring more local items, like honey, nuts, dates, figs, and orange blossom water. They are top-notch.

It was dark by the time we got back to the hotel, so we hung out in the salon on the rooftop terrace. It had cooled off signifcantly, so it was very comfortable with the dry breeze, aromas of charcoal smoke and roasting meat and veggies from the Djemaa el Fna, and the sound of drummers and snake charmers.


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