Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Welcome to Morocco, continued

March 31. 2 pm. Train from Fes to Marrakech.

Goodbye Fes! Bonjour Marrakech!
We are on an 8-hour, semi-comfortable train ride to the city that has always held wonders for me- Marrakech. The legend goes that I read a spread about weddings around the world in a National Geographic when I was a kid and I was enchanted by the photos and story on Marrakech. Ever since, it has been my dream to go and it was made possible by a Moroccan Miracle that I will try to pay forward someday.

Our last day in Fes was great. We walked around the medina some more. For some reason, Arab men must think it is charming if they say really awkward English phrases like ¨lovely-jovely¨, ¨sweet dreams¨, or my favorite ¨You want aphrodisiac? I am her!¨. We had lunch of grilled chicken and olives and tomato salad and orange juice at a little restauraunt for cheap. Delicious and satisfying. I bought some pure jasmine oil from an apothecary, which made me excited to hit the spice souqs elsewhere.

After lunch we went to a hammam. Oh gosh. What an experience. Let's just say you have to have no shame and be completely comfortable with your body. Pay 8 dirham to get in and recieve a bucket. 10 more dirhams gives you clay-rose paste/soap and a scrubber and 30 more dirhams finds you spread-eagle on the floor of a sauna as naked Moroccan women scrub you up and down. First, you sit in the sauna and pour warm water in yourself. Next, Moroccan Granny #1 used a scrubby mit to slough off rolls of dead skin I didnt even know I all my nooks and crannies. My skin was bright pink. After that, Moroccan Granny #2 gave me a ¨massage¨ where she rubbed this pasty soap all over. Again, all over. I lost it a little bit when I was strewn across the floor with this Moroccan women's boobs flapping in my face as she oiled me up. After that, they washed my hair with other soap. Then douses of buckets alternating hot and cold. A slap on the bottom and I was the cleanest I've ever been in my entire life.

It is rude to walk outside with your hair wet, as a woman, because it implies that you have just finished the intimate action of showering. I felt so self-conscious taking the short walk from the hammam to our hotel, thru the medina. Interesting. Karim, our friendly hotel owner, invited us for orange juice, which apparently is good for the health after the hammam. But its so cold here that we opted for ¨Moroccan Whisky¨, as Karim calls it = sweet mint tea.

More walking and one bowl of chickpea soup from a cart brought us to Cafe Clock. Stone highly recommended this place and asked for a full report, so we were obliged to go. Its easy to miss, down a dark alley, but it is gorgeous- a full riad (mansion) converted into a chic concept restauraunt. After that we bought train food (oranges, chocolate and dates are the best travel food!) then returned to pack. Note: train rides would be even more interesting if I understood more Arabic. I resolve to learn more throughout my life. Its such a gorgeous, useful language- especially for where I think my life will lead...

This country! This scenery! I resolve to return to Morocco someday and go backpacking. There is so much more for me here that I can't discover in just 2 weeks. Forest, desert, mountains, cities, Berber villages, Toureg nomads. The Atlas Mountains in the golden light of the sunset cut the horizon in a jagged, timeless edge. The snow-capped mountains in the distance reflect the sun back on this approaching train...j'arrive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your visit to the hammam made me have to hold my nose so I wouldn't burst into hysterical laughter at work! That's one of my favorite stories of yours so far, in addition to you judging the drag contest. Please always tell this story at family functions, ESPECIALLY ones for which you are a first time guest!

Love always,