It seems to do anything, or get anywhere in Marrakech, you pretty much need to cross through Jemaa el-Fna (the main square) to get where you’re going. Fortunately, we didn’t have to linger long, and were able to cross a corner of it to follow a small street (full of twists and turns and moments where we thought we were lost) to Marrakech Museum, then to another (much more impressive) Islamic school. After these, we thought we would wander, but got lured into a Moroccan pharmacy, which led to being lured to the tanneries of Marrakech. We agreed, because we were told there would be an auction. There wasn’t. We upset a couple more volunteer “guides” before we crossed back through town to see more of Marrakech at night. Although, that certainly didn’t last long, especially after we walked onto the square and immediately heard a fellow tourist get reprimanded for taking a photo that she insisted she didn’t take.
The museum was like visiting someone’s private art collection in a restored palace. Which, maybe that was exactly their goal. I was much more impressed with the old Islamic school we wandered through.
I’ve been intrigued by these herb shops that we saw EVERYWHERE in Marrakech. I didn’t really know what to make of them- were they cooking spices? medicinal? We finally got pulled into one and found out that they are both. It was actually really interesting to be in and fun to try all of the different kinds of herbs. I didn’t get the sachets for breathing well (seems it would be incredibly beneficial when you have a cold) and I wish I would have. Instead, we got some tea to go with the Moroccan tea pot I wanted to get before we left.
I was thrilled with our visit in the Herboiste, thinking we didn’t get ripped off, it was a pleasant exchange, we learned something, I got some pictures, Andrew got some videos, the Herboiste got a sale… and then they suggested we go to the tanneries for the auction. I didn’t necessarily need to see another set of tanneries- but I was curious what a Moroccan auction was like. Immediately some dude they knew- or they didn’t know sprang out from nowhere to lead us. Off we went. He traded us off to another man who took us around a very barren set of tanneries. And then predictably led us into a leather goods shop.
So when I shop around in foreign countries- I never really know if it’s a reasonable price at the first quote. So, I typically shop around. I price check everywhere and then walk away. Walking away is the best way to get the price down as low as they will go before I even start bargaining. In Chefchaouen, a popular leather purse design was going for about 150 durams. When I asked this dude, it was 700. I laughed. like out-loud in his face “No effing way, dude” kinda way. Because if you’re going to mark it up that much- well, that’s just rude! I signaled for Andrew to leave. We both walked out. I didn’t even respond to the shopkeeper how much the bag should have cost because I didn’t even want to consider buying it from him after he initially marked it up so much. On our way out, BOTH guides were waiting for a tip. Presumably so because they weren’t going to earn any commission from the ridiculously overpriced leather purse I didn’t buy.
I didn’t have much- Andrew didn’t have anything. I fished around in my pocket and handed it to one of the guides. He looked at me like I was crazy. And because there was no auction, because the shop-keeper marked his price up sooo high, because BOTH guides were standing there demanding money for services I didn’t ask for, I grabbed the coins back. “Fine, if you don’t want it, then I do!” And we walked off, me apologizing to Andrew for dragging him to a non-existent tannery. At least it didn’t cost us anything…
Shopping for Moroccan tiles and tea-sets on the other hand, cost a thing or two…