I had the distinct honour and the great pleasure to visit Tubqaal with Mary and David. More about that later.
Our first leg of the journey was down to see Marraksh (or Marrakech in French transliteration, for the sake of the word searches). It's a three hour train ride down, so we made a day of it there, spending the night in the fairly decent and reasonably priced Hotel Ali. I had a wonderful time touring through the souq, after entering Jamma F'naa. Jamma F'naa is a gigantic square in the center of Marrakesh
filled with acrobats and story tellers and snake handlers and lots and lots of food (which Mary likes a lot.)
After wandering through the square you make it to the interior of the souq, a cavernous dwelling stretching on and on in corrogated iron sheeting with countless stalls of everything you can imagine. As in the Fessi souq, the donkey drivers yell out "Balak, Balak!" to warn you of their approach, men grab your arm to get you to come into their stalls, and you have to constantly watch your (female) friend's backs that they are not grabbed by Moroccan men. Mary wanted specifically to find a carver
she had seen before, to get her and her friend's names carved in Arabic into stone, and so we ambled through the entire souq to reach the end. Inside were amazing hats, ancient irons, and we even made new friends.
The Marrakshi medina has a prefabricated ancientness to it, with a mixture of modern chiq clothing stores next to intricate wood carvings with stainless steal roofs, and far older tessilating Islamesq art.
We came back to sit at my table in the main square for dinner. I have my own table. It's got my name on it. The guys greet me with a kiss, as I always go to that one table. There are countless stalls set in the main square, where you can order almost anything for dinner, from ciscisu to tagine to shish kabob. I have enjoyed these guys food very much in the past, but unfortunately, it left a lot to be desired this time around. In part it's because I've cut down so much on grease since the stroke, now when I try more greasy kabobs they have lost a good deal of their pleasure for me- at least my stomach says so.
Then we wandered off into the dark of night to the 9 century old Koutoubia Mosque, with diverse plantlife below, for Mary had never had the pleasure of wandering these gardens.
But the feast d'resistance (Yes, I speak no French) was the evening, when the time between light and dark arrives, and those things of whom we dare not speak their name stride forth, and grown men appear with chickens on their heads. There are games as at every carnival, such as attempting to fish a ring over a coke bottle, and plenty of stalls to buy candied peanuts and orange juice. (Every one's orange juice is slightly better than the previous stall, though made from the same ingredients. You must remember the number of the stall you buy from- it is shameful to go to another stall once you've once drunk from the orange juice of life.)
We enjoyed listening to some righteous gnawa music, with it's hypnotic beat encompassing my mind and matching my inner spirit so that I was drawn beyond the present now. But my favorite bit was I finally got to hear some halqa. Halqa means circle, and is authentic Moroccan theatre, named so because it is street theatre in the round. Using extreme gestures and voice, the storyteller speaks to our souls in Dareeja, drawing us in through a twist of the wrist and a comedic presence. I have looked for this again and again in Jamma F'naa, but always have been disappointed. I think it has become more and more rare- it is definitely not for the tourists, as it is all in Dareeja. I didn't understand everything, but it was still uproarously funny, such was our performer's stage presence. He used an 'ud, an Arabic guitar, to bard-tell his story, up until the climatic moment- when he stopped completely. Time to pay up. After everyone had given sufficiently, he gave us the denounement.
After listening to more music, in which the musicians saw what we had given for tips, and shamed everyone else because the Americans obviously enjoyed their music more, we headed to much desired rest- all except for Mary, who urgently needed a hammam, provided free of charge at the hotel.
(Formatting of this post disjointed because, as usual, picture post on Blogspot is down, and I have to use Image Shack to host pictures.)