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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Perpetual Flux and the Immovable Stability

After my words about Marrakech, readers have accused me of having lived too much in the first world. I admit it's true. Except for a trip to Costa Rica (where we were very comfortable, because it was the off-season), I've traveled entirely in Europe, the Caribbean, and North America. So...welcome, Diane, to the rest of the world.

We were doing better by dinnertime last night. We ate at a tourist place, but it had its unusual touches. It was a 17th century palace, and the location for a scene from Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much.

It also had a sort of belly dancer, Xtreme version.

Today we stayed away from the souks. It was easier to find our way. Our reflexes were better; there were fewer near misses with motorbikes. We were forced into only one unintended tour, and we only overpaid a little for it.

We started out at the Saadian Tombs, from the 16th century. They include three ornate, enormous mausoleums containing marbled tombs of  Ahmed el Mansour and his family and descendents.

Then we took a taxi to the Majorelle Gardens and Berber Museum. The gardens were exquisite. They're known for two things: the blue color with which much of the plasterwork and tile is painted, and the fact that the house and garden were owned for a while by Yves Saint Laurent.

After that, we went to the Dar Si Said Museum, in a 19th century palace. The sultan who lived there had four wives and eight concubines. When troupes of dancing men performed for the sultan, the women watched through screens upstairs, looking down and across into mirrors that reflected the dancers so they didn't look directly at the men.  

Then we were hijacked by a tour guide, who took us around to a dozen or more workshops -- huts, really, where men crafted metal, glass, and wood into gorgeous lamps and tables.

Our final stop with him was the government pharmacy, which made and sold herbal cures for anything that might ail you. Phil was quite intrigued by the mandrake root, offered as a cure for baldness. But I pointed out that it was both poisonous and hallucinogenic, so we decided against it.

After delicious tagines,we walked over to admire the Koutoubia mosque in the moonlight, finishing off with ice creams on the Jemaa el-Fna square while watching the nightly parade of crazy.

Tomorrow Phil gets to drive. We may find ourselves longing for the alleyways full of Vespas again.

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