Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Marrakesh Day 2

The next morning I got up early like normal and went wandering around the hotel. Out at the pool area they where still cleaning and setting up, there was a guy aligning all the chairs so they where in a line. And there was massive numbers of birds out and about. Of course it was very sunny and I managed to get this shot of the hotel from across the pool.

Went at 7:00 for breakfast in the dinning room, There was eggs, turkey sausages, eggs, cereals, and a ton of buns, cress aunts, and other pastries. Also fresh squeezed orange juice and other fruits.

At 9:00am I had my first tour, this was a carriage trip through the olive groves. I figured that being in the back of a horse drawn carriage would be fine for my allergies. I was wrong, as soon as we headed into the wind I started feeling it, but I had my anti-hystimiens with me.

I found out something Hot country, and pills that dehydrate you are not a good combination. I spent the rest of the day chugging water, speaking of water they warning that we should not drink or eat the local food. So we stuck with the good restrants, and bottled water.

The first stop was a olive orchard that is owned by the king, Olive and olive oil are some of the biggest exports, and the king owns something like 60% of the olive groves.
And unlike many country's where they shake the trees to remove the fruit, in morocco they pick it by hand. This was the first time that i noticed that manual labor was used more than automation. It seems like it is cheaper to hire someone to do something than to import the machinery to do it.

In the center of the grove was this pool, it is about 5m deep, and square in shape, the water is brought from the mountains to water the trees.

The pool is about 800 years old, the green roofed building is about 100 years old according to our guide. All told it dates from the time of the romans.

That was the first stop, next up on the carriage ride was a botanical garden that was built in 1920s by French artists Jacques and Louis Majorelle. In 1924 it was opened to the public, they have a large variety of plants from all over the world.

The garden is now run by a foundation to keep it maintained. The brilliant blue building is the center building of the garden. As gardens go it seemed to be kinda overrun and poorly maintained.

After this the carriage ride took us for a tour around the outskirts of the madeena, which is the walled old city. That was interesting as wee saw allot of non tourist parts of the town, It also seemed like it was the very poor part of the city.

In the after noon it was the Souks shopping trip, I didn't take my camera with me for that part, kind of wish that I had. There was allot of interesting things to see, but i didn't want to risk it getting stolen while shopping. Turns out I would have been fine, no one on the shopping trip lost anything.

Bought a bunch of souvenirs, The most unique is I got Karen a goat skin, I figured that she could make something much more interesting than I could find for her. Her first questions where color, thickness, and how it smells wet :) Anyway the guy asked 500d for it, I countered with 50d, and eventually settled on 200d, more than I would have liked to spend, but worth it for a unique item. Have I mentioned they haggle for everything. I hope to mail it all out this coming week, or next.

Anyway one of the places the guide took us to was a wholesaler, his shop is only open in the afternoon as the morning he deals with boutiques in the new city. the shop was filled to the rafters with the most beautiful pots, boxes and chests. everything was engraved or carved. There was silver jewelry boxes with inlaid camel bone, it has a neat reddish sheen to it. And the designs where fantastic, There was also allot of jewelry. I really wish I had my camera for this, Thew owner also let us go up on the roof of his shop and look around. It was cool getting a over view of all the small alleyways and shops.

This shop by the way you would never find on your own. The guide took us down a couple of bare alleys and around a corner to a door. He knocked on the door and someone opened it up, he said something and we where let in. If you didn't know it was there you would have never found it. The sales people where good, they didn't push for you to buy like the street vender's did. One guy spent allot of time showing me stuff, and explaining the history behind some of the pieces. even after I had told him I had spent all I could.

From what I could tell of the wood work there it was all well done, and allot of it was dovetail joints and low tech fastenings, but it all seemed very sturdy.

After that it was back to the hotel for the evening, and I was tired, the heat beats down on you even int he shade, IIRC it only got to 42c and working on my 3rd 2l of water :)

Sat around the pool for a bit, and in it. That night we had a programmer dinner at a local restraunt, It was cool, again no camera :(
The food was excellent, I had a rabbit press :P and lamb curry :), and about 10:00 pm the belly dancers came out. The first two out where lady's with trays of candles on there heads, they really shook them hips and the candles barely flickered.

Then several other dancers came out and they danced around each other and the tables, and the waiters wove in and out of them while doing there jobs, I don't think any of them even touched each other.

Then they all moved to the center path, the restraunt was built as a hollow box with the center a pond with a bridge across it. The dancers moved onto the bridge and danced the final set, They shook them hips until you would think they would come off.

I headed out about 11:00 to head to bed, had to be up at 4:00 am to be ready for the hot air balloon rid the next day. I heard that they stayed till about 3:00 ish drinking, Meanwhile back at the hotel there was a bunch of CCP's working on there second bar, they had drunk the patio bar dry, so moved up to the night club and started working on it. About midnight they finished that one off, and moved to one of the suites to continue the party. About 2:00 am the police showed up to quiet things down, so they moved suites and kept going. Room service ran out of liqueur about 4:00 am so the part broke up then.

Next day someone found out that the hotel has never sold more alcohol in one night than that night. The company that organized it had told the hotel to stock up because these people like to drink. I guess the hotel didn't believe them.

The other cool thing is they number there elevators from zero, and basements are negative numbers.

So that was Day 2, the end of Friday, here is a sneak peek into the next day.

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