Sunday, December 23, 2018

I should have mentioned that we are the only people in the hotel. That never happens and it’s wonderful to have the place to ourselves.

We had a fine breakfast of three different, small breads right out of the oven, a melt in your mouth mushroom and cheese omelet, absolutely fresh orange juice, all sorts of jams, yogurt and several pots of coffee. This was served to us by “Norman”, that’s our approximation of his name, who has braces on his teeth—a sure sign of being middle class—and is studying to be a lawyer. He is bright and full of ‘satiable curiosity.

We had hired a guide for the day, a distasteful decision but we felt a necessary one, who was a tall, good looking man named Fouad. He was fine. I just hate being guided. He took us up and down all kinds of alleys and lanes, all of which were exciting and surprisingly clean. They were exciting because of the goods—slippers in glowing rainbows of colors, djellabas in all colors and fabrics with little round buttons marching down their fronts, embroidered cloths, pallequins, women’s gowns, pierced brass lamps, stained glass brass lamps, pharmacies, spice stalls exhaling heady breaths of herbs at us.

He took us to a rug place, which had a wonderful view from the roof but, when we were not interested in buying, and what was on offer was not a patch on the Istanbuli carpets, the man was definitely rude in his disappointment. Not good. More interesting was a sort of lavish antique store with very interesting jewelry, pierced brass lamps of high quality and a vast, confusing collection of jars, pots, old silver, woodcarvings, some dubious. My feeling was that there were well-managed old things here. Kathy found a bowl full of big hunks of moonstones, quite amazing, softly emanating bluey-white with yellow flashes.
I, unfortunately, found a many stranded green bead necklace. ($360) But …

The rule is, NEVER BUY ON YOUR FIRST DAY. We didn’t but a lot of pressure was applied to Kathy before we left.

Then he took us to a place that sells argan oil, solid amber perfume, and something tied up in netting that, when inhaled, opens your sinuses like a hurricane working its way down a passage of locked doors, and various beauty products. Somehow we both went into aphasia and found ourselves counting out the equivalent of $100 each quite passively.

We found that all mosques and most medresas will not let us in as we are non-believers. However Fouad did get us into one recently renovated medresa that is beautiful with floors and floors of cells for the students, rooms for the teachers, a central court with fountain and oodles of tourists of all nationalities and races.

We had an adequate lunch at a place where all the diners were tourists. I had couscous, which was a bit soggy. By this time we were both itching to get away. We were delivered back to the hotel. The tour was only $25 each so there was nothing to complain about.

We settled onto a couch above the swimming pool and were joined by the plume-tailed cat who has taken a fancy to Kathy. Late we had eggplant salad for dinner in the cozy dining room.

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