After the intensity of teaching and being at the AGM, the mind over-load of studying/observing for 9 classes over 4 days at YTC with the incredible knowledge base and compassion of Marlene Mawhinney, 3 plane rides and 2 hours to get through customs in Marrakech, I slept! Until 9:40! I set my alarm for 8, but didn’t even hear it. I woke up to kids playing in the street outside my window.

Aziz, a native Berber and manager of the Riad la Bel Oranger (;sid=f715143b32d28e2de600b25b90c93dfd) gave me a quick orientation after breakfast which consisted if really good coffee :)!, and bread or pancakes. He is a lovely, smiley, man that waited up so late for me to arrive the night before. Elyas was the driver that picked me up at the airport – I told him I’d tip him when I saw him again

– I hope I do…he was fantastic! He was very tired after having to wait for me to clear customs. There’s nothing like seeing your name on a piece of paper held by a person with a huge smile after a long journey to a new place!

With Aziz’s basic instructions and a whole lot of trust and repetitive mental directional mantras (right at the spray-painted wall, with the purses on the left and the veggies on the right under the bamboo and I’ll be ok…, small arch to the right to get to the souks – make sure the large arch is on the right when I come back…), the directive to not make eye contact and say “la shukran” (no thank you in Arabic, thank you is Shukrya in Hindi so that one sticks for me), I set out to find the grand bazaar and main post office. It is truly a maze in the old city and the alley ways are so small and tight gps is of no use, so you better know how to landmark. I’m going to take a culinary tour while I’m here and the meeting spot is the post office, so I wanted to be sure I could get there on my own. I was warned repeatedly about the touts and aggressive behaviour of the Morroccan men, but so far I can’t find anything to be concerned about. I’m going with it was because of my hat, sunglasses, and confident walk – not my age ;). As well, I am not shopping, which makes things easy. If you are a shopper, this is the place to be! And if you are, you then need to be in command of your bargaining skills, wits and sense of humour – or you will be overwhelmed and taken advantage of. Which is as it should be. Their land, their rules. Your problem when you don’t play by them.

The central square is the largest bazaar on Earth. They were just starting to set the tents up for the madness of the night while I was there. It’s a daily event and something to be seen. Even in the quieter hours of the day, the snake charmers and performers were out. Men with diapered monkeys on chains – some not happy about that and very aggressive. Ladies doing henna. Musicians. Vendors. Rows and rows and rows of absolutely anything you want to buy. All of them want your money – even if you take a picture of any of them – you’ll be harassed. Thus the lack of close ups ;).

Because I’m on my own, I’m glad I’ve been to India before and know the drill. That I’ve bought my share of souvenirs and am travelling with carry on so I have no room for one thing more. That I know how far a smile goes. That I know learning ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ in the native language goes even further. Barney was right – they are the magic words 🙂 (let me hear from you if you know what that means 🙂

I’m also glad that I know Morrocco is a ‘dry’ country – unless you want to spend 16 Euros on a glass of wine! As I write this I am sipping my contraband vino bought at the duty free in Madrid just before I boarded the plane. Glad too, that I purchased the only bottles (yes, plural…they are individual-ish servings 😉 because everything else had a cork and there are explicit instructions at the Riad that NO OUTSIDE food or beverages are allowed. My gig would have been up if I had asked for a corkscrew!

So…it’s time for a nap. Tangine avec poulet et citron (Angelique??? Boy I could use you here!) for supper and then, if I’m really brave, I’ll head out into the craziness of the bazaar tonight.

Stay tuned…I’m booking a tour for tomorrow – not sure which one yet???

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