Trip to the Medina

I learnt the present tense today. I am an awesome. I also learned how to say “I want (verb in the infinitive.)”

Yesterday, someone tried to pursesnatch a young lady about 400 feet from where we stay. He came up from the behind and grabbed her big fluffy pursebag. But she didn’t let go. The strap slid down and bruised up her arm. As soon as he realized there would be a minor struggle, the guy ran off. That’s the way things work here: people would be willing to steal the fillings out of your teeth, as long as they could do it without hurting you. And you know what? That seems like a pretty fair system. In Philadelphia, they just shoot you first and rob you second. Sometimes, they don’t even bother robbing you.

Saturday I went into the Medina with a guy named Nabil. I went the week before and managed to get bugged by a whopping 10 faux guides in 40 minutes. (One of them told me he’d take me to the American embassy in Fes. There is no embassy, or even consulate, in Fes. When, I wonder, would he have given up the game and robbed me?)

Anyway. With Nabil, we went up the main road, and down the second main one. I say main road, because Nabil said “big road”, giving me an erroneous impression. The thing is maybe 8 feet wide. Anyway, he recognized a rug vendor from an internet article. I got two carpets for a total of 1300 Dirhams ($150 or so?) The one is 3×5, the other 1×5. According to the buying tips in the guidebook I have, I got a good price, and they’re mighty fine rugs. But here’s the important part: I like them, and got them from an individual fmaily business, and not some corporation or something.

I also got a pair of babouches, pointy-toed leather slippers. They’re better than my boots for indoors, but they are giving me many blisters. All I need now is a djellaba (an american I met last night is taking me to his tailor’s in a week)  and a Fez. I’ve seen Fezes in the medina, but you’ve got to understand how that place works. The vendor sits outside his shop, which is loaded with stuff, and you stand in the street and tell him what you want. As thousands of people file by you (did I mention the largest street is 10 feet wide or so?) I think that if I tried to stop and buy one, I’d have a panic attack. But fear not, gentlemen of The Commonwealth, I plan to score mad hats soon.

Also, for the ladies: I went into a silversmiths. He was the only blatantly rude person I met all day in the medina, so you’ll have to wait for jewelry type stuff. Also, the silversmiths sell a lot of Jewish tchotchkies. I’ve seen Hands of Fatima (silver hand-shaped good luck charms) with stars of David and/or Hebrew words and/or menorahs on them.

Anyway, I’m off to either study verbs, see if someone wants to go out for supper, or finish reading the 1st part of Henry the Fourth. Later tonight: whiskey on the roof, perhaps?


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