You Don’t Want to go There!

But I am a tourist,” I thought. “No Cooperative,” I said. “I am allergic to tea.”
A few minutes later, we arrived at the Cooperative where the taxi driver had a friend waiting to help. Nazy and I refused to leave the taxi until it took us to the souks. After a short ride, we (finally) arrived in a huge square with a view of the famous Koutoubia Mosque. It was clear that Mohammed’s tour had been like visiting New York City and seeing Wal-Mart but missing the Empire State Building and Times Square. Amazingly, the taxi driver had arranged a ‘guide’ that was very hard to shake.
The square was bustling with activity and excitement. Donkey’s pulled carts into the labyrinth that formed the bazaar itself. The square was filled with thousands of people - many selling food: Moroccan oranges were especially popular. On occasion, we’d hear familiar flute music as a snake charmer got a cobra or two to hiss.

The Souks

colorful souks plates

The souks reminded me of an Indiana Jones movie. They were colorful and varied. Everything was on offer: carpets, pottery, fabric, leatherwork, tapestry, metalwork, Moroccan spices , shoes and jellabas (traditional outfits - like that worn by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars). Moreover, while bargaining was imperative, shopkeepers were not nearly as pushy as those in the Cooperatives.
Fully aware of her responsibility to make an economic contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of Morocco, Nazy spent a lot of time bargaining and looking. As only she can, Nazy asked one of her souk friends for advice..
“The taxi drivers say that we shouldn’t shop at the souks.”
“Shouldn’t we shop at the souks? That’s crazy. Where else would you shop?”
“The Artesian Cooperative?”
You don’t want to go there!”
“But the prices are fixed. And you get a government paper about quality.”
“The prices are fixed - high. Have you believed any paper that you got from any government?”
“If you want a document, I’ve got documents. I’ve got ancient documents. Genuine ancient documents.”
“What about quality?”
“Are you happy with the quality of the shoes you just bought?”
“Yes, but...”
“See. You would not be happy with a poor quality product. So..”
“Ipso facto, habeas corpus, e pluribus unum, caveat emperor..”
Easy to translate,” I thought. “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
While Nazy was discussing, I avoided boredom by being corned in a nearby shop. The shopkeeper was trying to sell me a hand-carved ebony walking stick with “pure silver” decorations cast in the shape of a camel. Although I had no intention of purchasing the cane, I was vaguely aware that chatting up the shopkeeper would heighten his expectations. This would make escape more difficult.
“You will look stylish, suave and debonair,” I heard.
“Really? Who will I look like?” I was thinking Fred Astaire, but I had asked unfair question. The merchant couldn’t be ‘sincere’ if he didn’t know the answer I wanted to hear.
After a spasm of thought, he put his foot directly into his mouth. “You’ll look just like Mr. Bean.”
Escape suddenly became very easy.
Back at the hotel, we planned dinner at at ‘typical Moroccan Restaurant.” I hailed a petite taxi for the trip to the Kasbah.
The taxi driver was typically Moroccan. He knew everyone - a fact that he demonstrated by stopping to talk with friends several times along the way. He wasn’t particularly interested in expeditiously getting us to our destination. On the way he pulled to the side of the road, got out of the taxi and, leaving the engine running, with the door open, dashed across the street to make dinner reservations with friends for the next evening.
The route was less than direct. (Probably because we had forgotten to negotiate a price before embarking.) In fact, we were amazed to see a very modern area of Marrakech. Predictably, Nazy, attempting reverse logic, got to the point.
“We were thinking of going to the Artesian Cooperative tomorrow.”
You don’t want to go there.”
“Really? Why?”

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