When we stayed in Marrakech, our hotel was located at the intersection of three totally sketchy alleyways. When we walked through the one to get back to the main street, we agreed that this is the kind of alleyway one is led through on the way to their death by shanking. But as luck would have it, after we walked through shank alley, we came across, not our untimely deaths, but instead, the main street.
Michael loaded up MapsMe* and pinned our route, like breadcrumbs, so we could find our way back through the medina. I figured if we just walked slowly and kept calm, even if we did get lost, it would be ok. Chloe and I turned around as we walked, named each alleyway, and took note of what we saw — the archway to shank alley, the gold squiggly sign above a store, the walk through Calm Alley (where there are surprisingly few people), the big green tiled doorway before we had to turn right. We walked down an alley that sold all knock off clothing. Now, this is good. Clothes for women, who traditionally wear headscarves, full length, long sleeve dresses, often times with a hood, and now, with modern labels. I saw one terry cloth looking dress, grey, to the floor, long sleeve, with a hood, that said “REEBOK” across the chest. Another that said Adidas. Another that said, “I don’t remember days.” Haha! I laughed when we walked past a stall that had a sweater that said, “I’m hapy to met you.” I kind of want to buy it!
We left Reebok Alley and found ourselves on a main street with more tourist faces on this one. We walked past a store that sells beautiful wooden boxes, games, statues, and other various wooden things. We walked past another store that sells beautiful tea sets and golden lamps. We walked past multiple shoe stores, and I was excited, I knew I wanted a pair (or two (or ten)) of shoes. I finally walked into one, pointed at the embroidered shoes I loved, and asked the man if they had any in my size. His eyes widened when I told him what size I needed. He couldn’t find the embroidered ones I loved, but he did find a different style in my size. They fit perfectly. I asked again about the embroidered ones. He shook his head. I said, “I have really big feet.” He said, “not really big…. Big, but not really big..” We continued walking. We walked through the main square, past the black cobras being “charmed”, past the monkeys being abused, and past the women doing henna tattoos.
After lunch, we went back to the shoe guy so I could buy my shoes. This, of course, spoiled my bartering game. He knows I have big feet, he knows I have tried shoes on at every other god damn shoe store in the medina, and he knows I am not leaving his stall without shoes. I was able to get him down to a somewhat reasonable price — a black pair and a turquoise pair. Yay!
Then, it was time for rug shopping. We walked into a store and it just felt right. Mohammed, the owner, introduced himself and told us he was here to help. Chloe meant business. She was here to buy everything. They were so helpful. She knew the colours she wanted and the sizes, and they kept pulling rugs out for her. I took pictures of the rugs and Chloe and Michael contemplating which rugs to buy. Michael and I found a cool rug we loved. It is beige with black designs on it. It’s a medium size, so easy to put anywhere, and has no wild colours, so easy to pair with other stuff. Considering we don’t actually have a house, I think we chose the right one. Chloe cleaned up and got everything she wanted. Mohammed is the kind of rug guy I like — no-nonsense, no bartering, just damn good prices, and a damn good experience!
We asked Mohammed if we could climb his wall of carpets. He laughed and let us, “do anything you want,” he said. We had a photoshoot on the rug piles. It was so much fun. Mohammed and his employees just laughed at us. We said farewell, Chloe would go back tomorrow to have Mohammed ship everything to Canada for her — what a guy.
We went around the corner onto Reebok alley. Past the green tiled doorway, right at the gold squiggly sign, through calm alley (where there are surprisingly few people), through the archway to shank alley. Home again home again.
What did we buy?
- One rug, 2mx1m: 300dh
- Two pairs of leather shoes: 150dh
- One wooden game of chess, travel-size: 100dh
- One leather belt for Michael: 100dh
- No, I did not buy the “Hapy to met you” shirt… but I am full of regret about it.
*MapsMe is a must-have app for travel. It has incredible offline maps, one can use without any sort of internet connection. I highly recommend downloading it. I proudly advocate for this application without any kickback from the company! Check it out here!