Day 3: Moroccan Maze

Today was incredible! Sleeping with ear plugs last night was a huge help. We had breakfast at our Riad and headed to the Medina because Carly and Grace wanted to get henna done (they are beautiful) We came back because we had a cooking class scheduled through our Riad. This experience was definitely the highlight of my day! We went with the cook (who pretty much didn’t speak English) to pick up all of the ingredients we would use. First was the butcher-seeing the raw chicken getting chopped up definitely made my stomach turn- I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could. Next was the bread and some spices, this I handled just fine 🙂 Lastly we picked up fresh veggies. I loved having the ‘local’ shopping experience! Because fridges and cupboard space aren’t abundant here, it seems that women tend to go shopping daily if not more to get their food. 

 (This is where we got the chicken and that is woman from our Riad who helped us cook)

We made three dishes- a Moroccan salad, spiced oranges and chicken tagine. Since the cook spoke little English we basically just copied what she did in the kitchen. The first thing she had us do was peel a tomato which is so much harder than it looks! She quickly realized we were all on the struggle bus and was definitely trying not to laugh at us the entire time. We did much better with chopping up the green peppers and the onions (until we all started crying because they were so strong) We mixed the peppers and tomatoes with oil, salt and cinnamon. We peeled and sliced the oranges and put sugar and cinnamon on them. We put the chicken over the onions and then put a variety of spices over the dish. End result: it was AMAZING! 

  
I couldn’t believe I even loved the veggie salad! (Mom, I hope you’re reading this) But it was all wonderful and I’m so excited to try and recreate these dishes at home.

To try and stay cool we hung out for a couple more hours at the Riad, aka Carly took a nap and Grace and I starting planning for the next leg of our trip- we will be flying into Milan on Wednesday morning and then taking a train to Lake Como. After a nice break out of the sun we headed back out to the Medina and picked a side street with shops and headed down it. Grace’s goal this week was to get lost and that is exactly what we did! 

  
The best I can come up with to describe these souks is the worlds most complex maze. After walking for about an hour we realized that there was somewhat of a system and there were differen sections- lanterns, jewelry, shoes, leather products, clothes, etc. Eventually we made it out of the ‘tourist trap’ section and found ourselves completely lost, at one point we were literally in the middle of a tense carpet auction in this huge cavernous room. That was the coolest part of this market maze, you would be on this tiny alley pressed up against the wall to avoid getting run over by mopeds and donkey-pulled carts, and then you would turn the corner and end up in an square or open air building with tons of people and products. After a couple hours of taking random streets and paths we ended up in the factory district of Marrakech. It was pretty sketchy as we were pretty much the only tourists back there and as three white girls we already stick out. But that’s not to say it wasn’t worth it! Seeing shop after shop of people making shoes, sewing or painting was fascinating. It is also crazy to see how they transport the raw materials- huge rolls of cotton or pallets of wood are balanced on tiny, rusty carts either pulled by people or donkeys and navigated through tiny streets. But we made it out on the other side of the Medina all in one piece! 

 

We grabbed a late dinner at a nice restaurant on the edge of the Medina to avoid the craziness. I’m assuming it’s because of the heat, but none of us   have had huge appetites in Africa so we opted to split dinner. We ordered lamb tagine and it was wonderful! Much more flavorful than the chicken tagine that we have eaten at other places. Side note: everything here is extremely cheap! Our dinner included the tagine, water and two Fantas and came out to 55 Dirham. Basically the equivalent to $5.50 in America. The freshly squeezed orange juice we had on our first afternoon here was only 40 cents!

 It was a great, laid backed day here in Africa! 

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