An Early Moaning!
Typically when Mike and Bone bitch and moan in the morning is typically a result of excessive alcohol ! This morning it was the result of bad food, and the stress of waiting for death due to plunging off of a rainy, cold mountain due to a foggy windshield! However the fu-fu breakfast and better coffee brightened the Boys spirits. Since it was only 8:00 in the morning, the Boys had an hour to kill before their next tour started so they got a fresh cup of new Joe and retired to the patio on the roof to watch the morning activity in the Medina.
The Glorious Rotting Roof Tops of the Marrakesh Medina !
There is nothing quite like the Morning air anywhere in the world, and in the Medina in Marrakesh it was particularly pungent. The dry, desert air,,,, the smells of the Boy's awesome coffee,,,,,, and the putrid smell of garbage !!! On the top of the building right next to the Boy's Riad was rotting garbage all strewn about!! Thus adding to the overall aroma that was the funky mold Medina!
Ticket to Paradise?
Around 9:00, Mike and Bone's soft spoken and gracious host Mohammed informed the Boys that their tour guide had arrived. See the day before was supposed to be the highlight in the mountains, today was going to be the lowlight in the Medina!!!
The day was going to be a walking tour of the history of the Medina, it's artisans, its shops... Instead it turned out that their guide for this tour, Ahmad was going to try his best to guide the Boys into converting to Islam!
Meandering the Medina
Mike and Bone had only walked half a block from the Riad when Ahmad had started to proselytize to the Boys why they need to convert to Islam and why Jews are bad. As they headed into the center of the Medina Ahmad pointed out each Jewish family home with the complaint that while they own these houses, most of them live in France, which Mike and Bone said "so what?" Finally they arrived at the Museum of Marrakesh they could at least get a little history!
A Medina sorta Museum
Mike and Bone at the Gates of Hell
Mike and the unamusing Ahmad
Muslim Mike and Islamic Bone!
The Museum of Marrakech is a museum in the old center of Marrakech, Morocco. The Museum is housed in the Dar Menebhi Palace, built at the end of the 19th century by Mehdi Menebhi. The palace was carefully restored by the Omar Benjelloun Foundation and converted into a museum in 1997.
The house itself represents an example of classical Andalusian architecture, with fountains in the central courtyard, traditional seating area known as a hammam , with intricate tile work and carvings. The museum's large atrium (originally a courtyard, now covered in glass and fabric) contains a very large centrally hung chandelier-esque ceiling piece consisting of metal plates decorated with fine geometric and epigraphic cuttings. Several features of the original courtyard, including the floor-set basins and mosaics have been retained.
The museum holds exhibits of both modern and traditional Moroccan art together with fine examples of historical books, coins and pottery of Moroccan Jewish, Berber and Arab cultures. As Mike and Bone noticed the beautiful parque walls and ceilings were all green in hue, which Ahmad told the Boys that green is the color of Islam, which explains all the mosques from the day before in the Atlas Mountains all had green in them.
Mike and Bone Meandering the Medina with Ahmad
A Tale of Two Tours. When you read the Summary of this 1/2 Day Tour it states that it is "to learn the History of Marrakesh and the trades that have been there for the past 900 years", or so that is what Mike and Bone read and expected. Ahmad's expectation of the Tour was to not only to convert the Boys to Islam, and convert Mike and Bones dollars into sales for his buddies in the stalls of the Medina!!!!
This was very evident because after a few minutes of walking into the Trade District of the Medina, Ahmad ushered Mike and Bone into a Carpet Vendor's Stall for a forced sales presentation. It is a typical high-pressure situation that foreigners like to use on pliable Americans, into buying medium to low quality stiff for exorbitant Now Bone was actually in the market for a carpet, but neither Bone nor Mike were too keen with the strong arm sales tactics of the Sales Guy and his obvious buddy Ahmad! Mike was much more polite than Bone as the Sales Weasel pretty much picked out two carpets for both the Boys. Finally the Boys just got up and walked out with Ahmad glaring at the Boys for not buying a rug!
Or,,, They Carpet Bagged Him!
Ahmad tried one more time when he took the Boys into a Spice Stall and tried to get the Boys to buy some dried herbs. Again, walking out finally convinced Ahmad that the Boys would buys things that they wanted from where they wanted, which was a Stall with handcrafted tin teapots which the Boys loaded up on.
Interestingly, afterwards Ahmad didn't really say much for the remainder of the Tour and periodically glared at the Boys as if they offended him by not buying from his buddies. Most likely. he was steamed that he was not gonna get a cut of a sale!!!
Lot'sa Stuff to Buy in the Medina!!!!
The obviously irritated Ahmad then walked Mike and Bone through the famous tanneries of Marrakesh, which are still operational today.
Tanning has been in the Medina from the beginning. As Marrakesh began to finally attract merchants and craftsmen from elsewhere, gradually turning it into the trading city it became, the first craftsmen to arrive were the tanners, arguably Marrakesh's most famous industry. (Goatskin tanned with sumac is still commonly referred to as "Moroccan leather" in English; books "bound in Moroccan leather" are synonymous with high luxury). The "dirty" industries - tanners, potters, tile-makers, dyers - were set up on the east part of town, on the other side of the Issil River, partly because of the stench, partly because of their need for the river's water.
Another famous craft in the Medina is making thing of Tin. All through the Medina, there were awesome things such as teapots, wall hangings, lamps, handmade of Tin.
The Original City Cistern !
Leaving the tannery and still talking about water, Ahmad next took the Boy's to one of the oldest parts of the City, the original City Cistern. When you live in the Desert water is pretty darn important. When the Almohads founded Marrakesh, they also expanded the waterworks with a wider irrigation system, introducing open-air canals (seguias), to bring water down from the Atlas mountains through the Haouz plain into the Cistern behind Mike and Bone above. This Cistern allowed the Almohad's to establish the magnificent Menara Garden and Agdal Gardens to the west and south of the city respectively.
Mike and Bone at the Old University of Marrakesh!
The final stop on the tour was a quick tour of the original University in Marrakesh, which had been a men only (women were not allowed to attend a Muslim University back in the day!) institution. Now it is primarily a tourist attraction with a very kool architecture similar to the palace they visited earlier in the Day.
After the University, Mike and Bone were pretty much done with Ahmad, who was pretty much done with the two American infidel's that were not interested in talking religion or buying rugs from his buddies. Mike asked Ahmed to navigate them through the Medina Maze to the Square so they could part ways.
Ahmad the A-Hole!
Jammin' in Jamaa el Fna, Part Deux !
The First Day, the Boys got to the Jemaa el Fna Square in the growing darkness of the evening, which can hide the enormity of the Square. As Mike and Bone walked into the Square they were floored by the energy, the people, the artisans, and performers!!! Now to ditch the Boat Anchor !!!
The Mosquée Ben Youssef
By now Mike and Bone had truly had enough of Ahmad and his selling Islam, so once in the Square they had him snap a picture of him in front of the biggest mosque in Marrakesh, Mosquée Ben Youssef (ironically.) and then told him to hit the road, to Mecca, to Casa Blanca, or anywhere but where Mike and Bone planned to be ! ! !
Charmin' the Snakes !!!
Walking back into the Square they encountered a truly Big Bone Terror. One of more "charming" things in the square is the snake charmers who had cobras and black mambas dancing for tourist coins. Now Bone did not want to get within 50 yards of the vile creatures, but Mike who had far more testosterone and testicles than Bone ever would in 100 more years actually wanted to hold one of the vile and highly dangerous creatures!!!!!!
Snake Out !!!!
Mike with a Cobra in hand and around his Neck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As Bone urinated uncontrollably all over himself, Mike bravely walked up to the irritable slithery, slimy creatures that can kill you with one bite and had them draped over him, while Bone kept a sage and safe 20 yard distance for the sordid event. Afterwards Mike was quite exhilarated with himself, while Bone smelled of ammonia from his soiled trousers !
After the snake trauma (and Ahmad), Bone really, really needed a beer, and Mike obliged ! By now it was pushing 3:00 PM, and the Boys hadn't eaten lunch. Walking into a Joint near the Hotel Tazi (they area that served booze), the very gracious Berber Waiter told them that they did not serve beer, but would walk them (for no charge) three blocks to a very cool second floor outdoor restaurant, fully stocked !!
A Liquid Lunch after the Snake Incident!!
By the time the waiter arrived, Mike and Bone were hot and tired, it had been a long two days, so they ordered 4 Especiales with the understanding that in about 10 minutes, the Boys would need 4 more! Since Beef Tangine was the dish of the day, why not have it again for lunch! The Boys then spent the next few hours enjoying the very kool outdoor patio, a continuous supply of Moroccan beers in a very pleasant late afternoon with Moroccan music playing in the background.
Finally around 5:30, the Boys decided to head back to the Riad to figure out what to do for their Evening Finale in Marrakesh!
Carpet Crawling by the Kings Palace !
One thing Bone did want to do in Marrakech was to buy a rug, he just didn't want to buy it through the strong-arm tactics of Ahmad and his Buddies! So he asked Mohammad, where to go in the Medina to get a high quality carpet without spending a fortune. He softly smiled and said, "I will have a friend drive you to the place."
Mohammad's friend drove Mike and Bone to a Carpet Dealer across the street from the Kings Palace (when he is in Marrakesh), in fact he has picture of him with the Royal Family, that we needed to show the Boys. Originally Bone wanted to get a Berber-made carpet, but they looked like something you would get in the America Southwest!!! It turns out the simple patterns were Berber Carpets, the fancy designs were of Arabic design. Since Bone really wanted a Berber carpet. Berber carpets been woven by the Berbers since the Paleolithic Era. Traditionally, Moroccan rugs have been woven by tribal peoples for their utility rather than for decorative purposes. The early adoption of rug-making by native Moroccans is certainly due in large part to the distinctive climate of the region. Moroccan rugs may be very thick with a heavy pile, making them useful for the snow-capped Atlas Mountains; or they may be flat woven and light as to suit the hot climate of the Sahara desert. After deciding on a particular carpet, then came the always fun "negotiations" Most people in the ancient world from the Berbers in Africa, to the Indians out east LOVE, just love to dicker and negotiate. The Carpet Dealer wanted $1,400 for which Bone had no intention of spending over $800 so he started at $600. Twice, Bone was ready to walk out (a noted negotiation ploy), finally they agreed on $800, with the stipulation that Bone would have to carry it out of the Store rather than have it shipped, which was fine with Bone. Through the whole drama of dickering, positioning, and negotiating, Mike sat silently amused !!!
After the exciting Carpet "Deal of the Century", when the Boys headed back to the Riad.
For Mike and Bone’s last evening in Marrakesh, Mohammad knew the Boy’s wanted an epic and iconic Moroccan experience and he knew the exact iconic restaurant in the Medina!
Terrors of the Alleys
One of the baffling things in the Medina is that while the streets were far too narrow for cars, there where motor-scooters, and motorcycles whizzing past pedestrians everywhere! On more than one occasion Mike and Bone had to jump out of the way of them dang contraptions. especially this particular evening!
Takin' Pictures to find their way back to the Medina!
Getting lost a couple of time made Mike and Bone all the wiser, This evening they "marked" their trail to the restaurants with pictures so there would be no debating on the right way back after too many Especiales!
Dining at Dar Essalam !!
After weaving through the Medina essentially around Jemaa el Fna, Mike and Bone ended up at the very iconic Dar Es Salaam Restaurant. Dar Es Salaam was founded in 1952 and is still run by the same family. Using a 17th century palace in the heart of the Medina, Dar Essalam has been renovated according to the traditions of Islamic art. To walk through the Restaurant is to walk in the footsteps of Winston Churchill, Alfred Hitchcock (who filmed a scene here in "The Man Who Knew Too Much" starring James Stewart and Doris Day. Incidentally the movie also featured Doris Day singing the Oscar winning song Whatever will be will be (Que sera sera).
The only thing Mike and Bone knew more than Doris, was a few beers would be, would be !!!
Taking their seat Mike and Bone along with all the other patrons were serenaded by a Marrakchi Orchestra and Dance Show, right up Mike and Bone’s alley for a iconic Moroccan experience !!!
Mike and Bone jamming on Especiale's at Dar Essalam !
The Boys ordered a bunch of especialles and for dinner Tagine and Couscous, all of which was delicious. While right after they were served, the entertainment of the night started !!!
It seemed like a Bright idea to pick up this Hot Lady !
During the Dinner Performance, Mike and Bone finally heard the fat lady sing!!
Actually she sang and danced with freakin' lit candles on her head! For a nominal tip the nice lady took her picture with Bone and wasn't a hot head about it despite evidence to the contrary!!!!
The great meal, the great beer, the wild Marrakchi Orchestra and Dancing made for a much better night than driving in terror through the Atlas Mountains and a very fitting Mike and Bone end to the trip in Marrakesh!
Now the Boys needed to trace their way back in the crazy-confusing alleys of the Medina!
Fortunately, their picture that they "marked" on the way to the restaurant made it and uneventful trip to the Riad and they made it back around 11:30.