The tempting souks of Marrakesh

pix to come

Who knows what you’ll find in the souks (markets) in the medina (walled old town) of Marrakesh?  In my travels through the narrow alleyways, and without taking photos for fear of offending people or being asked for money, I saw a man planing a chair spindle with a press powered by his foot, people with safety pins for sale spread out on blankets on the ground, and of course lots of people selling pottery, rugs, postcards, bottled water, children’s toys and many other necessities.

But when I spotted some rugs as Ed, Elizabeth and I walked along after lunch, I didn’t really think I would buy one.  I had been focused on fabric and pottery.  But a rug caught my eye,  I went inside, and the rest is history.

The nattily dressed rug seller encouraged me to come upstairs, where rugs were piled almost to the ceiling.  We established that I wanted a small rug and chose a color range, and from there we were off.  Of course, he offered me some tea, which is part of the ritual, and explained that he could ship the rugs anywhere, displaying a notebook full of FedEx receipts and addresses as proof.  We discussed camel wool and sheep’s wool, and the difference between Berber rugs and others, saw the difference in stitches among the various kinds, and all the time saw more and more rugs piling up on the floor.

In the end, it was down to two rugs, a small one that I was thinking of for a wall hanging and another one for the floor of the sitting room.  He finally quoted me a price – we had both been silent on the subject up until then – and it started.  So much for two, so much for just one, so much for the big one, so much for the small one, and on and on.  I am a terrible negotiator, though Ed helped and so did Elizabeth.  In fact, she prompted me by saying, “Didn’t you tell me your top price was 2000 dirhams?” at which I almost said, “What are you talking about?” but stopped myself in time.

In the end I settled for the larger rug, we shook hands and all was well.  He gave me a receipt for my credit card charge and another one for the total price, neither of which actually matched the actual price, which I paid partly in dirhams and partly on credit.  The rug was folded up and beautifully wrapped in paper tied with string, and with handshakes all around we left.

Of course, it is so beautifully wrapped that I can’t bear to open it up and look at it, and so wish I had taken a photo somewhere along the way.  Look for it when I’m back home again.

4 responses to “The tempting souks of Marrakesh

  1. Well done, Team Parr! Did you take a photo?

  2. See edited version above! Photo to come in a few weeks.

  3. I remember mom and dad coming home with that runner and it was all wrapped up in a very tidy little package. I think it’s great you got a textile!!

  4. It is easy to succumb. Steve and I bought a rug in Turkey. I still love it.

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