I felt like a local by the time I woke up the next day. Is that too soon? I LOVE mornings and decided to spend it waltzing around the streets outside. The Marrakech mornings are magical. They are lazy and simple and a breath of fresh air compared to the business that would soon start as midday approached.
I loved Nomad so much, I had to pay it another visit. It had just opened when I arrived and I had the terrace to myself. Over juice and cappuccino, I watched as the streets below began to come alive. There was a small market in the open space below which was especially fun and colorful to watch.
During my breakfast, I got a text from my housekeeper asking if I wanted to take a motorbike ride with him. I said of course, as I’ve been wanting to get back on a bike ever since my experiences on them in Thailand a few months back. I walked back to my place and he was waiting there. It was time to pick up his daughter from school, so we rode a bit outside of the center of the city to get her. She was a real cutie, and as he was about to drop me off, I asked where he lived. Excitedly he asked if I wanted to meet his family?! So we did a U-turn and I met his wife and other young girl. They are mainly speaking French, but are currently learning to speak Arabic as well. The older girl is refusing Arabic right now because she doesn’t like her teacher, which I think is hilarious and also reminds me how much I want to learn another language.
His wife was actually born next door to me, in Michigan, so we had some fun chats and she made a nice, fresh rice and veggie lunch for us all. After their lunch was over, Abdul dropped me off to a local Palace so I could explore it.
This palace was incredible! It was a whole dollar to enter and as I walked through I fell more and more in love with the art of Morocco. Each room had different types of tiles and artwork and designs. Big rooms, small rooms, courtyards, gardens, sanctuaries, pools, everything. The pictures do it more justice than my words. After walking through that, I knew I would have to do a watercolor series based on what I saw there and throughout Marrakech.
I left wanting to see more palaces, but when I approached a nearby one, it was closed for renovation. So instead I decided it was time to get some Henna. There was a henna cafe I had stopped at earlier, but since nothing opens until about 10 or 11, it was definitely not open during my morning stroll. I went back and chose the henna I wanted. Some Canadian and American girls were there and it was fun to chat with some English speaking people for a while and sip on coffee while I waited.
I’ve only got Henna once before and it was in India. I was utterly amazed by the Henna artist then and remember thinking she should open a cake decorating shop. This time it was just as fun. The precision they have is outstanding.
I was going to get both hands done and then remembered that if I did, I would have huge problems eating later because it wasn’t drying very fast, especially in the heat. One hand proved to be hard enough walking around after I was finished, but the Moroccans took much more of a liking to me once they saw my hand. “Nice heeeenna” I’d get.
So I kind of fell in love with the blanket that was on my bed. I figured if I got a carpet, I should probably get a blanket too. You’re probably scared to read on after my rug story.
So I went searching for the perfect blanket souk. Blankets hung everywhere, but I was looking for something in particular. I really liked my grey and white striped one. There happened to be this shop on the corner that looked like it could have what I want, so I went to take a look. Muhammed immediately welcomed me in (secret indoor portion – surprise!). He had hundreds of blankets and was most excited to get me what I wanted. I told him what I was looking for, but soon realized he was much more excited about just having a fun conversation…and he was hysterical! He would give me a kiss on the cheek every time we had a funny moment, and he started using American slang telling me how his blankets were amazeballs and I’d be cray cray not to get one. He also snuck sales tactics in his humor. It was so funny that I couldn’t concentrate on what I wanted to buy.
I ended up buying a grey and white striped heavy blanket with Pom poms that I absolutely adore, but nothing was better than Muhammad telling me that we all should just love each other, no matter what we look like or what religion we are. He was the best. He gave me a scarf as a parting gift and wrapped it around my head in the way they’d do it if I was in the desert. I soon realized this was genius because no one would know I was white and I wouldn’t get a million salesman yelling at me on the streets. It worked like a charm.
It was overdue time for me to get a beer, and that meant heading to Terrace de Espices. I had heard it was another nice cafe AND had wine, so this desert-ready girl was excited. I walked onto the terrace and they had a straw hat waiting for me on my table, even better. I ordered a Casablanca beer, mint green tea, and 3 scoops of ice cream. Because, why not. Again, I forgot they would bring me bread and olives. Oh, it was bliss.
My waiter thought I was pretty funny I think, and promptly refilled my bread and olives when I ate them all. Well shoot, that meant I had to get a glass of wine. Which to my surprise, Moroccan wine is fantastic! The sun was starting to set about now and it was feeling like a real Aladdin-esque night. Even though I was very full, there was no way I was going to waste these new, fresh olives set before me, so I finished my 2nd portion with my wine. Mr. waiter noticed I ate them all again, and a few minutes later came out chuckling with more. Now I’d really done it. I was stuffed from trying to show my appreciation and now I had a whole new batch. Haley, Haley, Haley… Let’s just say, my dinner that night ended up being 3 servings of bread and olives, and more wine.
I knew I had to go back to pack up all of my newfound treasures, since I was going to try and leave the next morning, but not before one last walk through the souks. Almost as a way for Morocco to say “come back soon,” I walked through areas of shops that I’d totally missed prior. One of my favorites was this alley of middle eastern lamps…probably genies in a bottle too. I have officially decided my house will only be furnished with pieces that have a story behind them.
I went back to my riad, took one last shower with black soap, and started packing up my goodies. I have bought an extra bag earlier from a man on the street so that I could check my rug onto the flight. The man had told me the black bag was “very good quality, perfect for carpet,” I told him “no, it’s not, it’s very crappy quality” but I didn’t have much of a choice so I bought it. Luckily Karim was around and helped me stuff the rug into the bag and zip it shut. Let’s just say by the time I got to New York, I was dragging the broken bag by one handle that had half ripped off. Turns out, I was being generous calling it crappy.
I had grabbed a few extra dirham out of the atm to prepare for my taxi ride to the airport in the morning. When I told Karim of my plan, he slyly smiled and said, “mmm, you take motorbike?” I said nah, I’ll take a car. I mean, I had a ridiculously heavy backpack by now and my huge carpet in a very fragile bag. He laughed and told me it will be very easy on his motorbike and he will pick me up at 8:30. Alas, there was no getting out of this. We sat up on the terrace talking about Moroccan life and how he wants to come to Ohio to farm for my dad. In Morocco, he fixes up houses and renovates them with nice design. I set up his phone to watch Fixer Upper, so who knows, he might be a Chip & Joanna fan by now.
The next morning, I finished off some bread and butter and Karim met me at the door at 8:30. With my huge backpack on, I jumped on the back and he sat my carpet in front of him. I had learned in Asia that you don’t hold someone’s waist as you ride a motorbike, you hold the handles behind you. Still feel a bit bad about the first guy I hugged the entire ride down the streets of Pattaya. Anyhow, grabbing onto the back handles of this motorbike proved to be a bit scarier since i already had pounds of weight on my back making me feel like I was about to fly off the rear. I was also trying to figure out the best way to fall if worst-case-scenario came about.
By the time we got to the airport, I was basically dying from the weight and sprinted to grab a cart. Haha, I’m not usually an airport cart person, but it was necessary. I was trying to catch a flight to Lisbon, Portugal, but whether I would get on or not was looking a bit iffy.
After about an hour wait, and them telling me the flight was full, they decided there was room for me and I hopped on, ready to go explore whatever Lisbon had to offer (which ended up being amazing).