Saturday, August 4, 2012

Morocco Souk Markets

Traveling is so fascinating to me. Nate and I have been so lucky this past year to have traveled to so many places throughout Europe. The best part about living in London was the fact that once you are there, traveling from country to country is SO CHEAP. You can find amazing deals if you are just on the look out. Sometimes they have plane flights for just $15.00 a person round trip! Amazing!

So we wanted to take one last trip, have one last big adventure, before we went home back to the U.S. We contemplated going to Greece? Didn't find that cheap of flights. Egypt? A little too dangerous for tourists to go right now. Portugal? Need something a little more exciting and less European-ish. Morocco?.......


We found super cheap flights for the perfect time of the month to their capital city, Marrakech. So we thought about it and booked our tickets.....and we were so excited. Who would have ever thought that we would be going to Africa? Nate kept on telling me that this was going to be unlike any other place that I have ever been and that I would be walking around with my mouth open the entire time.....and I was. I literally felt like I was walking around in the Disney movie, "Aladdin" for a week. 

They have these markets called Souks. The pictures below are of the different interesting things that we saw in the markets as we walked around. Nothing has prices on it so that leads you to haggle with them until you both come to a price that can be agreed upon. Sometimes it is fun but most times it is just exhausting. They always tell you a really high price to start out with and then you tell them you will only pay about 70% less of what their high price was. Then you give a little and then they give some, until you are both happy. Most times when you start walking away and tell them no, they run after you and tell you that they will go lower. It can be very entertaining!

I was also very impressed by these people because they are so talented with their hands. They make everything from the natural resources that they find around them and then sell it in their shop to provide for their families. The things that their hands can make are just pure amazing. The best part was that you can see them right there making it in front of you most times when you visit the shop. Only 60% of the population in Morocco can read and write, so their whole living comes from the work of their own two hands. 

Spices from the Spice Souk
These people cook with these spices in all of their dishes. As you walk down the narrow market street you can smell all the different spices so strongly, along with the smell of body odor, and manure. 
After a while of being there, you kind of want to hold your breath because the mix of smells starts to become pretty disgusting. 

Colorful Scarfs, Bags and Pillows
Marrakech loves its color. The brighter the better. They had tons of shops like this one that sold tons of brightly colored items that looked like magic carpet material. I bought a cute purse from a shop like this that had all kinds of colors on it for 100dh which converts over to about $10.00. 

Colorful Plates
Even the plates that they eat on are full of bright colors. 
Towards the bottom of the 1st picture, you will see clay pots that are shaped like Hershey kisses.
They are called tagine pots. They are what they use to cook pretty much everything that they eat there because they don't have ovens in their homes. They put the food inside and then hot coals underneath. The last picture has smaller more colorful ones. Those are used as salt and pepper holders.

Dried Animals Skins
Yes. Those are real animal skins. Alligators, Snakes, and who knows what else.
Speaking of snake skin.....while I was there, I bought some snake skin sandals that I love!

Open Market Area
This is an open area market. They sell lots of things here like hats, beanies, woven bags, and straw baskets.
People are very pushy and forceful there. They really want you to buy stuff from them.
The guy on the right of the picture is on his way over to Nate to try to push him into buying something for a "Great Moroccan Price." He was constantly told by the locals that he looked Moroccan. Of course that isn't true at all, but they just said it to flatter him so he might buy more things from them. It happened constantly and it was hilarious. 

Lamps and Shoes
Every building, hotel, restaurant that you go in has lamps that look like these. This is all that they use. They are all hand made by the people selling them. They are hand carved and most of them when put with a light bulb light up with color like a stained glass window. 

The shoes are so cute there. They have all kinds of summer type of shoes and all different colors. Some are pointy, some round, some with dots some with stripes, some made with zebra, camel, and some just made with brightly dyed leather. And the best part was the price. You can get them for so cheap.
Their money in Morocco is in dirhams. 
100 dirhams is equal to 10 dollars, and 10 dirhams is equal to 1 dollar. 
as you can see, our money is worth quite a lot there!

Moroccan Treats
We never tried any of these treats because they honestly didn't look too appetizing. 
I think the thing that turned me off the most about them was the constant buzzing of flies around them, not just one fly, but dozens. Pretty gross. They don't seem to mind flies there at all though. No one even bothers to brush them away like they do in America. I never saw anyone bring out a fly swatter of any kind. 
I don't think they own them there. The flies were attracted to the honey that was drizzled all over the top of these treats. I don't think that they changed them out very often either because even at the end of the night they were still pretty full. So the idea of them just sitting there day after day in the over 100 degree weather with constant flies around them......not too tempting for me. 

These things are everywhere. 
They use them for pulling back curtains, for jewelry, decorations and lots of other ways. 
They were fun to play with!

Ladies Making Homemade Bags
During the day, you can literally see these ladies weaving these bags by hand.
It was fascinating. 
I almost wanted to buy one just because I was so impressed by them and the product that they made. 
 If you are as fascinated with this stuff as I was, 
click, "Read More" below to keep on seeing all this crazy stuff!.......
Magic Carpets
"A whole new world......a dazzling place I never knew, but when I'm way up here,
 its crystal clear, that now I'm in a whole new world with you."
They had carpets for sale everywhere. All sizes, all colors. 
And the most fascinating part was to watch them make them with their spools of homemade yarn and then how they would weave each piece together to make this beautiful masterpiece!

Typical Street
I like this picture because it shows a typical street in Marrakesh. You have the ladies clothing on the left side of the picture. You have the sun blocker beams on the ceiling to create shade from the 100+ weather. And you have pedestrians and scooters going down the same little narrow street at the same time. As a pedestrian, you always have to be on the lookout for scooters driving by in both directions. They will literally run over your feet and just keep going. So you have to listen for them constantly and then hurry and jump out of their way. It was completely crazy! And no one wears helmets!
I also like Nate in this picture. He bought one of the hats there for only $2!

Jewelery Galore
There is so much jewelry for sale in Marrakech. Every type you could ever imagine.
I particularly loved this store because as you walked into it, it felt like you were walking into pure jewelry that was completely surrounding and engulfing you. :)

Homemade Dentures?
This is one of my favorite shots that I got in Marrakech. 
Homemade dentures? Really? 
There is a man sitting out there that sells you them. The pile on the left is full of real human teeth that you can  choose from. Then you get to choose a mold from the right. They put them together for you. You also have the option of him pulling out your own teeth right there for you to add to the collection. Pretty crazy huh?

Leather Bags and Purses
They make lots of leather goods there. Later on in another post, I will blog about our unique visit to the tanneries where they dye every piece of leather. They actually make beautiful things for very cheap. In the 3rd picture, the man is shining up the bag that Nate bought from him. We haggled him down for only  200dh which is about $20. That is such a great price for the type of bag that Nate got. It is really thick leather that will last a lifetime. 

Food Markets
I was excited when I captured this shot in action. This guy is selling his own produce right here on the side of the road. These ladies are shopping there and buying their daily groceries to feed their families. How the women are dressed in this picture depicts how most women look on a daily basis. Some are covered up even more with only the slits of their eyes showing. Some women are a little more liberal about their dress and wear just normal modest clothes like a t-shirt and pants. No one wears summery type of clothes like tank tops or short shorts. If you see those on a woman, you know that she is not from there, but is a tourist. She will get lots of negative unwanted attention from most of the guys around town. Sick. 
If you look in this picture, you also see the baskets that are used for weighing the food. 
Very simple and old fashioned. No new technology or digital numbers. 
Love it. 

Community Bread Ovens
In Marrakech, no one owns their own ovens. It just doesn't happen. They use the tagine pots like I explained earlier. So every morning if they want bread for their families this is what they do. The women will make the bread dough in their homes. Then they will load it all up and bring it to the nearest community oven. They leave their dough there and the guy at the oven bakes the bread for them. Then the ladies come back later on in the day and pick up their freshly baked bread and pay the guy for his services. Pretty fascinating to me.

Stray Cats
For anyone that knows me well, you know that I am a total animal lover. I can't stand it when I see animals in pain or without a home. I just have to help them in some way. 
One thing I couldn't stand in Marrakech is all the stray cats. There are so many of them!
They are all super skinny and look like they are about to starve to death. 
They don't have enough water either especially in the hot summer weather.
They don't belong to anyone but are all just stray and live off of people feeding them scraps when they are lucky. It makes me angry that they don't neuter or spray their animals there to prevent this from happening. This shop that we went into had these baby kittens in there. I wanted to take them all home with me because I knew what their life would be like...not pretty. We saw dead cats on the side of the road and they were all constantly begging at you when you are eating outside. And a couple times I saw ones that were completely frozen in one spot and you couldn't quite tell if they were dead or not. It was like they had just dried and shrivelled up there in one spot because the sun was so hot and they didn't have enough water. So sad. 

Goat Feet Hanging Off of a Bike
They use every part of the animal there. I couldn't believe this when I saw these feet hanging off the bike. I about died. I don't know what they were planning on doing with them....but I don't think I want to know. 
Notice the black ones on the left side and the white ones on the right. 

Tires Used for Plant Holders
This was hilarious to me. They sure know how to be resourceful!

 Silk Yarn
This guy showed us into his yarn shop. He was making the yarn right there in front of us and dying it all different colors. Then he would hang it up above the ceiling to dry. He used natural products to make the different colors. He actually got really angry at us when we didn't want to buy anything at the end. We told him we weren't interested because we already bought some head wraps and we didn't need anymore. He didn't like that very much since he showed us around his shop and "wasted" his time on us. It wasn't pretty. Not like we wanted him to take all the time, but they won't let you leave. They keep pressuring you to stay and look at more stuff when you know in your mind when you first walk in there 
that you aren't going to end up buying anything. 

Chicken Market
This is where people would go to buy chicken for dinner......but they bought them while they are still alive.
It was pretty fascinating and I had my mouth open the entire time. 
When someone wants a chicken, they look at all of them in the cages and pick out which one they want.
Then they put that chicken in the scale and weigh it. It is flopping around everywhere. 
Then they kill it right there, the lady pays for it, puts it in a bag, 
and the lady takes it home to cook for dinner that night. 
Such a different way of life.
If I had to live there for a long period of time, I would turn into a complete vegetarian.

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