I've been sitting on the train from Rabat to Fes, knitting and contemplating yesterday's experiences. I started the day with an emotional low, discovering that the Day One post I had laboured over the night before had not published. I was able to resurrect the words from the original "notes" app, but was only able to publish once I had deleted and then reinstalled the Blogger app. I then thought that maybe the problem was the number of files in the app...so I started deleting old posts, only to discover that I was in fact deleting them from the blog itself! Oh nuts, or some such expletive...! A quick Google search has led me to believe that these posts can be restored, but it's easier done on a PC. All is not lost because I have since discovered that one of my faithful readers has kept all of my posts, and will be presenting me with a jump drive full of my writing upon our return home in early March. Thanks Donna!
On to the rest of the day... We walked to the Musée Archéologique, and enjoyed a look around. The collection is not extensive, or at least what's on display is not a lot, however there were a few objects that caught our eyes, and we kept returning to them. One was a bronze "puisoir"..."pour puiser le vin dans les cratires et le verser dans les coupes..." From the last quarter of the 8th century BCE. (Just checked google translate and this means ladle or scoop...whew! We were a little concerned it might have been a urinal for after too much wine!) It had a delicately carved duck head on the end. My sketch!
The other delightful object was a Roman bone and ivory carving, about 5 inches tall and less than an inch diameter, with delicately carved intertwined figures. It was exquisite. (No photos allowed)
When we left the museum and were standing on the pavement, we watched a woman driver in a very large BMW SUV carefully navigate the narrow street with parked cars on either side. She had a small dog on her lap. Just after Lloyd had muttered to me "rat on a lap" and I had been thinking "What's an enormous and expensive car like that doing here?", she stopped, rolled down her window and greeted us in French, asking us if we had enjoyed the museum. We replied yes, in our hesitant French, and she then switched to impeccable English, saying that we should now go to their new museum, just down the street, gesturing at a bright white building with lots of colour in its arcade, under carved arches. So, we had probably been talking to one of the wealthy Moroccans, a big contrast to the scarved and veiled beggars we have been seeing on the streets. We did in fact visit this other museum, the newly opened Musée Mohammed VI d'art Moderne & Contemporain.http://www.museemohammed6.ma/ It is a magnificent building, and houses Moroccan art from the beginning of the 20th century. It was not an easy collection to look at, especially the collection for the past 20 years. We had no context, and the info panels were all in French. However some pieces from 50 years ago resonated. Much of the work appears to have been loaned by a few families and banks...who knows, maybe the woman who directed us was one of these benefactors? The most interesting encounter was with one of the staff, a man who spoke good English, and who has a cousin working as a doctor in Montreal. (Many Moroccans have friends or relatives in Montreal). He was most excited to tell us about an upcoming exhibition of Arabic art from the Louvre. He let us look into the salon to watch the preparatory staff (from Italy) at work. Interesting that an Italian crew was brought in to do this work--maybe this was a condition to receive the exhibition.
We the went to the liquor store since it was close by...here's the view of the shop. Note no signs or any identifying marks! The shop on the right is a little convenience store.
We picked up some bread from a cart on the street...
...and then picnicked on the waterfront, just below the Kasbah Oudaïa, which is more correctly a Ksaur or fortified village on the promontory at the mouth of the river.
We entered at the pedestrian gate, and within a few minutes several young men told us that the viewpoint was closed "come this way instead!" Yeah, right, we've heard that line a hundred times since arriving in this country.
This village is very picturesque...
And sure enough, the promenade was very much open and we enjoyed the view from the wall, along with many other folks enjoying the sunshine.
Tucked into a corner I notice a sign for a carpet cooperative...so in we went for a look and were faced with about 10 women all knotting/weaving carpets. We were welcomed heartily, "Bienvenue, Madame! Asseyez-vous!" And so I did, right down on the cushion beside her and enjoyed a happy few minutes watching and listening to the rhythm. She inserted a couple rows of weft yarn after a row or two of knots, and the beating was very much like a drum. The down side is that when I got up to leave (after about 5 minutes), I left a 10 dirham coin on the bench. She then remonstrated quite severely "c'est rien! Deux Euros, svp! (10dm is about 10% of the average daily wage, and is what has been recommended as a tip for a short taxi ride, or for taking someone's photo--and we took no photos either.) Lloyd was quite adamant this was enough and so we left, my previously elevated mood of being in female company punctured. And so of course I had to work out my feelings about this on the walk back through the souk to the Riad. I was able to pose the question of whether or not this was a reasonable gesture to our friends at Naturally Morocco (they booked the tour that we were on last week) and was reassured that this was appropriate, and that I may just need to laugh this off... Writing this a day later, I am recovered!
It helped that we had a bottle of wine waiting for us back at the Riad. Here is the view of our street...
I spent the end of the afternoon knitting in the sun on the rooftop terrace. We then had a pleasant dinner out around the corner with fellow guests from the UK, and it was fun to exchange experiences!
We are now in Fes for a week staying at the Riad Dar Skalli http://www.riaddarskalli.com/#!/ in the old city. We have walked around a bit to scout out a place for supper, and will be heading out shortly. We have received all the usual warnings from the Riad manager about fake guides, touts, conniving taxi drivers and pickpockets... As tourists we really are marked, and there's no doubt about it, we are rich and privileged to be here. There are just so many people desperate to make a living. However, we have been in worse places...India for example...