You Don’t Want to go There!

Nazy’s birthday was approach: something exciting was mandatory because:
always leave me alone on my birthday, Dan.” Nazy said, somewhat accurately.
“That is simply not true, my dear,” I replied - disingenuously. “Last year, for instance,we celebrated your birthday in London. Remember?”
“Yes, Dan, you’re right. My flight home was cancelled - I spent the night at Gatwick Airport. The hotel room that you chose for my ‘celebration’ was the size of a toaster oven. How could I forget? I also remember the times uou in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Australia and San Francisco. You even went to Nigeria on one of my birthdays.”
“And now you’re going to an HP meeting in Lyon.”
“I’ll be back on your birthday.”
“Yes - late.”
“Early morning.”
“I see.
Aware of Nazy’s somewhat frosty reply, I decided that a real vacation was needed. Accordingly, we spent the next several weekends attempting to get KLM to let us use Continental frequent flyer miles for a trip to South Africa. By the time we realized that this was an impossible quest, we were left with insufficient time for a completely objective alternative analysis. I
suggested Morocco: “It’s in Africa and it’s sunny.”_ and Nazy agreed. (Nazy claims that she decided and I was informed.) Some friends were less than enthusiastic:
“Morocco? You’re going to Morocco?”
“Yes, Nazy and I...”
“You don’t want to go there. It’s not safe.
“Of course it’s safe,” I replied.
“They don’t speak English, Dan.”
However, our (non-refundable) trip had been booked. Timing considerations had been paramount. We were scheduled: between Nazy’s trips to America, before the end of the fiscal quarter and at the end of the latest reorganization cycle.
Note: HP had embarked on reorganization mcclxvii. Roman numerals indicate the critical significance and massive importance of the activity which would be executed, as Phase XV on the Ides of March.
More importantly, the schedule allowed me to miss the regular update call with Alberto, my boss.
The flight on Edelweiss Airlines to Marrakech was smooth and timely . Transfer to the hotel was equally trouble-free. After settling in, Nazy asked about a city tour.
“We just want to get an overall ‘feel’ for Marrakech so that we will know where to go and what to see during the coming week,” she explained.
“No problem,” Youssef, the concierge, replied. “
I will arrange it - only 150 dirhams. That’s just 15 Euros.”
An hour later, Mohammed arrived and Nazy explained our objective. As a professional tourist guide, Mohammed had his own ideas.
“No, madam.
You do not want to go there. You want to take a walking tour of the city.”
And with that, Mohammed started an incredibly convoluted trek that bypassed all of the city’s highlights. We walked (and walked and walked) through a variety of seedy districts but somehow missed the central square, the main mosque and all the gardens. Mohammed’s route bypassed anything interesting, but managed to encompass dusty, rubble-strewn residential districts devoid of conveniences like electricity or indoor plumbing. The ancient cars were matched by equally ancient transport mechanisms(donkeys, for example). Nazy wasn’t impressed. “Marrakech looks a little, eh, poor, Dan.”
“It certainly looks different,Nazy. Take away the people and the trash and it reminds me of the first photos from Mars.”
“The rocky debris is
“That’s not red, Dan, it’s pink.”
Isn’t that what I said?” I thought. Distracted, I failed to notice that Mohammed had ushered us into a genuine, government-approved, complete with price-tags, Moroccan carpet boutique. Adrenaline flooded my internal systems as evolution-based cerebral alerts went off. In the distance, I heard disquieting discussion.
“Of course we will sit down and have a cup of tea,” Nazy was saying. It was too late.
As Nazy, perched on a cushion, sipped mint tea, a veritable army of workers unrolled massive carpets before her.
“These carpet use modern techniques and dyes,” our host explained.
“I am from Persia,” Nazy replied. “I
know about carpets.”
“Ah ha!” The salesman’s eyes gleamed. “We will remove this collection of mediocrity and show you something worthy of a real Persian.”
Mediocrity means affordable,” I thought. I decided that it was time to enter the discussion. “you know, Nazy, there is no floor space in Kastle Kapfsteig.” I knew that they were going to make monkeys out of us. (I was wrong, that came later.)
As we escaped from the carpet merchant, Mohammed directed us toward the leather and woodcraft Artisan Cooperative.
“No Mohammed!” I exclaimed. “Let’s go back to the hotel.”
“It is a long walk, sir. You can rest in the cooperative while sipping your tea.”
“We will take a taxi, Mohammed. And we will take it
When we got back to the hotel, Mohammed wanted 500 dirhams for the “tour”. Assuming that Nazy had misheard the concierge (and more to the point, wanting to get rid of Mohammed), I paid. (Nazy got a refund later.)
Aware that we hadn’t exactly oozed competence and preparation on the first day, we read the guide book to prepare for day 2. We wanted to visit the souks (local bazaars) and the famous gates of Marrakech. This time, we were not going to walk. I hailed a taxi and prepared, I asked how much it would be to go to the souks.
“That would be 10 dirham. But,
you don’t want to go there,” the taxi driver told me.
“You, my friend, are mistaken. I
do want to go there.”
“No, you want to see the Artesian Cooperative. They have the best quality and fixed prices. The souks are for tourists.”

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