Tuesday, July 3, 2007

We have been the reverse of most Europeans in Marrakech it seems. Content to hide in the Medina, we cross into the Ville Nouvelle only with the greatest trepidation and anxiety. Unfortunately it is frequently necessary as our supermarket is there and twice we have endured the greed of taxi drivers (Us: 50DH? For a three minute drive? 10DH! *he sneers and walks off to find some less well-informed tourists to steal from instead*) but today, oh today, all was different. We got a bus. This changes everything – fixed, low prices, no asking to go to one place and being brought to a completely different one because our poor accents were misunderstood – it was wonderful. Admittedly I committed the apparent faux pas of ringing the bell as the bus came to our stop – old ladies jumped, men stared, girls giggled – but that aside, we arrived at the exact place we wished to visit. This place was Rue de la Liberte.

Rue de la Liberte has been rather optimistically described as the Bond Street of Marrakech. While that might be a slight exagerration, it was indeed a successful visit. My main destination was Scenes du Lin, a textiles shop specialising in, mirabile dictu, linen. The shop is divine. It is slightly more for the person furnishing their elegant guesthouse than the casual shopper – their towels for instance (they do other household textiles besides linen, admittedly) are gorgeous, but as John pointed out, more for the bathroom that wants to be a hotel bathroom than anything else – gorgeously embroidered and edged, but yes, they try a little too hard for domestic use (and I am not a girl known for her economy when it comes to domestic use – I came to Marrakech armed with my own Frette sheets). Other than little quibbles like that, I will definitely return when we move into our house and we decide to buy table linen and the suchlike. Downstairs, though, I made the best discovery – a long rack of gorgeous linen dresses by a company called Bleu Majorelle. They are in the djellaba style, sleeveless, with little knobbly fabric buttons on the front and at the side slits and I confess that I was lured into buying two – one long white one and a deep red mid-thigh one. Alas, they had no Sarah-sized trousers in stock, but I’m sure I can pick some up elsewhere, and probably for less than they wanted anyway.

Our next stop was L’Orientaliste. Gorgeous shop, but nothing particularly original or impressive, except perhaps their sweet little bottles of perfume. Most of their stock, while very lovely indeed, is easily gettable elsewhere and for less, mostly in the Medina, although I grant you that if you are not in a mood or position to spend a few days or weeks drifting through the souks, bargaining as if your life depended on it, then L’Orientaliste is definitely a safe bet. Not all of their stock is Moroccan – I think they purport to be Indian in theme, but perhaps I am wrong, for I didn’t see anything especially Indian.

After that, we went to Darkoum. Well. Gosh. He has some absolutely stunning furniture there – really really stunning. A neo-colonialist’s dream really. He imports from all over the world, and had such treasures as a 19th century Indian baldaquin for 20,000 euros as well as some carved Moroccan doors of dubious antiquity but conceivable prices – if nothing else, they will provide a starting point for bargaining in the Medina antique markets. There is also a good range of L’Occitane products. But. Oh isn’t there always a but? Upstairs, in the “gallery” section, he had a pair of elephant’s tusks for sale. Oh dear. This is bad, surely? There was nothing to suggest that they were antique, I think, and even if there was, that wouldn’t really make it any better, would it? It’s hard to be consistent with such things – I wear leather, I think antique fur accessories are gorgeous (sometimes!), but never modern fur, and I object absolutely to ivory. That’s fair enough, isn’t it? But then I must admit that such trinkets as, say, an antique ivory comb, have an appeal, and when my mother was a little girl in the early 1940’s she was given an ivory-handled toothbrush and brush that had belonged to another little girl who had died of leukemia, and I’m certainly not going to get on my high horse about that. But (apparently modern) tusks today? They were real, by they way – the label stated that they were. We were interested in a carved door, but John felt that he might not be comfortable buying anything at all from someone who dealt in ivory. I don’t know what I think. What do you think?

From what I can gather their sale is definitely illegal: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12066-cites-deal-wins-reprieve-for-elephants.html

After that we had lunch in an ultra-modern cafĂ© called Kechbar. It was fabulous. You know why? The bread basket. Bread is ubiquitous at meals here in Morocco, but it is always a particularly boring kind of round flattish white roll which tastes of nothing, but not in Kechbar! They had gorgeous light and crusty baguette to eat with their tasty goat’s cheese salad and Indian chai. What bliss!

Lastly, we made it to Acima, the supermarket and bought our own weight in spaghetti, coconut milk and white roses. Right now, I am wearing my new white linen dress, sitting in our courtyard under an orange tree with the roses on the table in a vase beside me. Life seems very pleasant just now.

(This was written yesterday and posted today)

1 comment:

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Sounds like you are having a wonderful time! Darkoum is one of my very favorite stores!

PS That restaurant you lunched in is called Kechmara, BTW

PPS Hope you got my email.