Monday, December 24, 2018
We found our way to the museum that turned out to be open, although on the Internet it said it was closed. It is an open square around a garden of orange trees, bamboo, jasmine bushes and a magnificent old oak with mighty limbs. The exhibits are interesting because they are local. There is delicate embroidery and some that is heavy and intense. There are ceramics and jewelry and handsome djellabas, a good-looking saddle, and some antique firearms that may have been more ornamental than utilitarian.
We walked to the Bab Bou Jeoud Gate, built in 1912 with green ceramics on one side and blue on the other. The Kasbah above turned out to have little interest so we returned to the Gate where a, I suspect government instigated, demonstration with drums, signs and chanting was being held in memory of the two young Scandinavian women recently murdered in the Atlas by, it is claimed, ISIS. (They have since arrested a Swiss man for the murders.) Anyway it was a nice gesture.
We walked along the Tala ‘a Kabira, a main drag though the Medina, to the Clock Café, climbing, climbing—bless them; they have a handrail–to the roof terrace where I had a banana lassi. We sat near some, I think, French women, mother and two daughters possibly, who were juggling maps and guidebooks. Maman wanted to know if I was having a smoothie. When I said it was a banana lassi one knew immediately she did not eat bananas.
We came down and looked at the struts and wooden pieces of what was once, it is thought, a water clock, although no one knows how it operated. There used to be shallow brass bowls on the struts, elegantly carved, but those have been removed for safekeeping. Across the way is another medresa we thought we could not enter. The doors to all of these unenterables are huge and handsome, sometimes clothed in brass, sometimes just great slabs of wood held together by iron bands, studded with more iron.
We were now headed to the main mosque the Karaquyine, hoping that the door would be open so that we would at least have a glimpse in. Along the way we inspected poufs in various colors, designs, and finally materials, although the original thought was leather. However, coming from Spain, where the leather-work is fine, we became more and more disenchanted with the quality of what we were seeing, finally deciding that the leather was out but a rug pouf might be in. The street is a continuous flow of shops tumbling down and up hill.
We stopped for lunch at a small, shiningly clean shop run by a young man and woman that proudly features takeout but has a few nice chairs and tables inside. I had a delicious chicken sandwich with a sort of salad on the side.
Then more shops, including a large ceramic shop of many rooms and courts with a proprietor, who when he is softening you up for the kill, tells you that “you bargain like a Berber.” Kathy acquired a large hazy blue, ceramic menorah trimmed with silver. I discovered a bunch of really filthy, very rusty old locks with keys. For the last 30 years or so I have given my son a lock for Christmas, only missing out once or twice, and I had been looking in all the shops we went into. Surely, I would find one. I did, a nice specimen. I would guess close to a hundred years old.
This shop was on a street that connects Tala ‘a Kbira to Tala ‘a Sghira. We made it safely to Sghira but then, recognizing things around us, knowing signs for cafes and other Riads, we became totally lost, utterly confused and having asked our way a couple of times accepted the humiliation of having a man call our hotel. They sent out a rescue team in the person of Hadid who takes care of the pool.
We had a small plate each of the extraordinary eggplant salad for dinner. It is smoky and slightly picante. We ate it almost every night knowing that probably never again would we have aubergene salad of this quality.