My apologies to everyone who has emailed me of late, and especially for not posting anything. My friend Marci, whom I met through the illustrious Tessa, and who happened to be on a tour of Europe in late September, came to Fes to visit me.
She got here on Thursday night, after a train ride that was delayed for 5 hours. She got to see the local café where I take my nightly coffee, the tourist trap restaurant that is the only one open during the fasting hours during Ramadan, and the place where I live. I was lucky enough that there was an open room here, so rather than a hotel, she got to just rent a room in the Villa for three nights.
Yesterday we went to the open air market (the White Souk or the Marche Centrale, depending on who you ask.) I’ve been there twice: the first time with Elena, everyone was friendly; the second time alone everyone was surly. This time, with Marci and another young lady from the Villa, everyone was super friendly. So the moral of the story is, in Morocco, bring your “wife” shopping with you (any pretty girl will do, but they will make assumptions. I.E., handing Elena’s change to me and giving me her groceries to carry.)
After that, back to the Medina! I think seeing Marci in action really upped my confidence- she could go into a store, look around, and then leave, without letting the merchant guilt her into “look a little more, look a little more.” I didn’t think I’d be able to stand that pressure, so never just wandered into a shop before.
I bought a leather messenger bag. The leather is thicker than my belt, and it’s just the right size and shape for books and an emergency beer. It is the most fantastic colour of all time: dark brown.
I don’t understand how the Medina is not the economic capital of North Africa. A bag like that in the states would cost me at least 10 times what I paid here. Economists, you have a lot of explaining to do. How is it that Morocco doesn’t export a hojillion dollars of goods everywhere on earth every day?
I bought a fez from the angriest man in the Medina. We were a little lost (of course we were; we were in the Medina) and while trying to orient ourselves, he came up and started pressuring a “fezhat fezhat” on me. After about thirty seconds it was clear I was going to leave the Medina either in a fez or a body bag. However, I got the price from 150 DH down to 45 DH. Which is double what is recommended in the guide books, but that’s like a dollar to me, and a week’s dinner to him. So I can’t feel too bad about it. So fellas, good news, I’ve got one fez down and yours to go.
Shopping is actually fairly disorienting. In Philadelphia, I’m poor as dirt. I do two things with my money: pay my rent and eat. But here, I’m Mr. Rich Tourist Man, and everyone treats me like I’m a millionaire. It’s a feeling that I don’t think I care for very much.
Overall, I give this trip to the Medina 6 out of 6 burgers. I look good in a fez. This also means my outfit is two thirds complete: I’ve got the fez and the babouches, now I just need a djellaba. Hopefully, I am going for a fitting this week.
I am off to drop Marci at the taxi stand and then to the roof for a relaxing beer.
Be seeing you.