I have just returned from a family trip to Marrakech and my head is exploding with color, print, flavor and ideas. Visiting the souk in the old medina is a visual experience like none other. We watched leather being tanned, fabrics being woven, herbal elixirs mixed, lanterns constructed and donkeys carting products throughout the narrow alleys. These items are beautiful, yes. But how they are made is fascinating. Furnishings, decorations and all types of clothing are hand crafted by artisans on site in the exact same ancient manner as their ancestors.
The souk is tough to navigate (there are no signs and multiple entrances and exits, so we hired a guide.) Mohammed helped us weave through the maze and led us to some incredible artist cooperatives that required a secret knocking sequence to gain entry. Housed behind massive wooden doors, these spots had the feel of Aladdin’s Cave; with row upon row of copper pots, pottery, jewelry, tea sets, leather bags and shoes. There are no price tags in the souk. Fierce negotiation skills are required. If you ask the price of, say, a small dish, the response is always the same: “I make you good price! You are my first customer!” When your lust list is piled up, a ridiculous number is written down. You laugh and say this is way too high. They ask what you want to pay and you offer half of that price or less. And so it goes for about 15 minutes until both parties are satisfied. As the items are wrapped, a small gift was offerered at each stop for my daughters.
I went a bit mad on the pillow and pouf front. At the Maison du Caftan. I stocked up on a rainbow of stunning decorative items for my house. The furniture is what really made me swoon: carved, inlaid wooden tables, punched copper chairs, mother of pearl mirror. Obviously these items can’t be stuffed into luggage so I had to walk away empty handed. I am already dreaming of my next trip to Morocco. Rest assured I will be organizing a container to ship pieces home.