>Part 3 Where to Buy / Where not to Buy… that is the Question

Posted on February 26, 2009


The Saadian Tombs, by day, is a veritable carousel of tourists, guides, taxis and coaches all making a pilgrimage to a Marrakech tourist hot-spot.
Amongst the procession of camera happy snappers are a host of hawkers and there wears. Souvenir camels, postcards, hats and bracelets.
Bizarrely it is almost worth a visit to simply watch the occasional tourist become flustered and incapable when dealing with a hawker.

Perish the thought that I derive some internal amusement by this unfurling drama, but I do.
The Hawker is a professional, yet still it bemuses me over the length of time he’ll persist on an obvious “lost cause”.

The anguish, and my quietly enjoyed theatre, is short lived when the flustered American lady spots the salvation of her fortress sanctuary draw to a halt and the doors to her tourist coach ease open. Like a “greyhound out of a trap” she parts with polite etiquette and races towards safe custody.

As the lady exhales a sigh of relief, looking forlorn from her coach window, she catches my eye. I acknowledge her with a friendly grin and a shrug of my shoulders. She tuts, rolls her eyes and returns my grin with a huge smile underwritten by a theatrical “phew” as she wipes her brow.
Curtains close.
My show is over.

In the evenings the Saadian Tombs take on a foggy eeriness from steam emanating from the many local food stalls. Kebabs asunder. People everywhere.

The atmosphere is great… the smells…… intoxicating.

At twilight you really do feel that sense of being somewhere else.

Fiona and I ponder further…… Hummmmmm … the Saadian Tombs may not be either a good place to use for a rendezvous, for somebody who doesn’t actually know what you look like.

Likewise the Saadian Tombs, immediate vacinity, is equally not the best location to purchase a Riad ?

Sure… after a few days of occupation, the Hawkers would recognise us and we could go about our daily business un-hindered, but what about our friends and guests?
If they were visiting for the weekend, or indeed a week, then the Hawkers would naturally introduce themselves. Without the safe harbour of any tour coach to whisk our friends away, they may feel imprisoned in our Riad, uncomfortable with the prospect of venturing out, if greeted by a barrage of Hawkers, bombarding them with souvenirs, each time they lift their heads above the parapets.

Another rendezvous needs to be tested.

Bab Agnaou is the most impressive and most photographed of all the entrances into the Medina.
It even has Bronze Cannons.

To see if Bab Agnaou was a suitable rendezvous point, I sent Fiona to go and sit on a Cannon. Naturally she obliged….. under duress.
I found a different local chap who did not know what my wife looked like, to go and find her and escort her back to the Riad where we were staying.

Interestingly…. it worked, in fact it worked too well. Which is no real mathematical surprise when one considers that there are only 2 Cannons and only 1 person, suffering the middle-aged indignity of sitting astride one of them.

Fiona, however, was furious. “I have never felt so silly. I looked like a twisted Annie Oakley. If I had shouted Yee Haaa and slapped the back of the Cannon, I could not have attracted less attention”.

Describing to Fiona that standing next to a Cannon would have been sufficient did not apease her viewpoint any lesser, in fact I simply added fuel to the fire.
My own fault as an argument usually follows when things go wrong and my instructions weren’t carried out to the letter.

Fiona’s most significant observation was valid. The road in front of Bab Agnaou is used as a taxi rank.
Prior to her making a direct assult onto a Cannon she foud herself accidentally forming an orderly que !!

Our local chap escorted her…….. but not by the normal route along Rue de la Kasbah.

For expedience he led her along a very pleasant walk, following the outside Medina ramparts and re-entered the Kasbah through a pretty Bab call Bab Ksiba.

We had found the perfect rendezvous. Bab Ksiba !!