There are no rules or maps posted outside of the Medina. It is the raw, beating heart of Casablanca, wide open on the surgery floor with thousands of attendants in all shapes and sizes, with as many intents and purposes. As soon as you cross Boulevard Mohammed V and stand outside of the gates, you become a missing, hunted part of the whole.
Everything is sold in the Medina. Fruit, vegetables, chickens slaughtered on chopping blocks, only slightly in the way of foot traffic, dates, figs, olives, cuts of meat, fish on ice, fish not on ice sold on a scrap of paper covering a box decorated with a tomato. Prickly pears piled on wooden carts strapped to motorcycles, what looks to be the last and treasured remains of a home because there is no more home and there is nothing else to sell. A shop with 2 walls and 2 washing machines and an keeper not more than 6. Embroidered gowns and hungry cats, heaving piles of shrimp, stacks of fermented pancakes, of oily flat breads and pillowy chewy rolls. Gold and silver, great tubs of curry powders and tiny pots of saffron. The flies are hard at work and in no hurry.
Without mentioning his name or that he was available our guide took us on. “Come” he said. “Welcome to Morrocco” and he led us in. “You will shop,” he said, no problem. “I will take you to one shop, and if you don’t like it, I will take you to another”. We picked out shawls and dressing gowns. The guide arranged stools for all of us, including Ferdinand. “How much is it,”I asked. “We will begin.” he answered. “In Morroco there is no fixed price. The restaurant, yes. You see the price, you pay the price. Everything else, we must work. He will start, (pointing to the shopkeeper) he will write it down, and then you will say, no. And then you write. We begin.”
It is an art for which I had no talent, but hours later I was improving by a landslide. I may have overpaid for djellaba, but when we went to the Hassan Mosque and the driver refused to give change back for the negotiated price, Ferdinand and I got back into the cab and sat on the backseat without budging. “We’ll have to sit here then until he gives Dad the change.”
There is a certain unmoving, unyielding and I-am-done, when spoken by a woman that is understood throughout the world. He gave back the change. We looked at the mosque towering over the ocean and then headed back for the Medina.
For dinner we had lamb kefta, a lemony couscous, grilled chicken, and a plate of whole fig, banana, red and yellow plums and an orange at Ilmichil. Every inch of every wall was covered with painted tile. The ceiling was cut stone. For afters we went to Le Fleurs and sat outside on the boulevard for Mroocan mint tea, poured three times from the cup back into the pot for proper mixing, and ice cream for Ferdinand.

Leave a Reply