New Places, New Friends

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Pushing past the women buying oil for their hair, and men yelling in Arabic hoping to catch our attention to sell us a useless trinket, Kelly and my eyes dart around in wonder. The smell of dates, cinnamon, cardamom, and uncooked meat mingle in my nostrils causing my senses to be at odds in every moment as one turns from pleasure to disgust in a matter of seconds.

Between the stares and attention we received I felt like a big fat dollar sign. I was told the market was relational, but I was not prepared to feel as though I was being pulled in every direction to give money. It wasn’t just the food merchants, or clothing merchants, but street kids wanting money, and snake charmers too.

We get inside the market in hopes of finding some jewelry to take home, surprisingly finding many items I would expect at Claire’s. A man gestures for us to come toward him down an alley and into his shop. We are hesitant but he walks toward us determined to show is his rugs. We try to explain we don’t have room to take any home with us in our suitcase, but he insists, pulling out more and more in various colors, sizes, and patterns.

I look at Kelly, hoping to send her telepathic waves saying, “lets go before we get more sucked in!” The more we hesitate the lower the prices get.

“Ok, since you are student, you can have this handmade rug for 80 D.”

One last attempt at explaining we don’t want a rug but smaller items to remember Morocco by finally makes it sink in, but little do we know we are far from walking away from him.

“Jewelry, oh, follow me to my other store.” We do as we are told trying to keep up with him as he follows the veins of the medina closer to the heart. “Just 500 more meters,” he said. Right before I believed he wasn’t really taking us any where and rather wanted to go for a walk with tourists, we reached his other shop.

Walking into what seems like a gypsy tavern enclosing years of stolen, hidden treasure, a man greets our other shop keeper with a hug. A woman dressed in a beautiful head scarf barley acknowledges Kelly and my attempts at smiling before quickly leaving us alone with the two sales men. The two are quite a pair. While the first is dressed in a more traditional Moroccan dress, the second is in a long grey trench coat with a old leather hat and glasses. After exchanging their greetings they turn back to us. They each had their targets. The trench coat marches over to Kelly talking about an
iron elephant and our rug merchant started selling me jewelry.

The shop contains five huge cases of jewelry they swore was antique and real silver. I don’t expect to find anything but my eyes dance around the cabinet enjoying all of the beautiful pieces and history they contain. Eventually my eyes stop on a pair of earrings with Fatima’s hand–protection against the evil eye as I have been told over and over again.

Silver is a set price so he asks for 100 D. They are beautiful, but I was prepared to pay that much for a pair of earrings (my mind already in the belief anything over 50 D is a lot though really in the US is would be closer to $6). I look around some more, waiting for Kelly and avoiding getting sucked into a purchase. I find another set of earrings. This time though the men inform me they were not silver so they were much cheaper. I think silently about it but know they see can the hesitation in my eyes.

“Sometime the cheap things in life become the most expensive,” trench coat says. I knew they had me, so I walked over and took the pair of earrings.

“For you,” the rug merchant says, “70 D. “. He is giving me a deal after all.

The exchange of money to friendship. I exchange my money and Kelly hers. Walking away it is clear we had made friends, a partnership. “Come back.” They tell us as they hand us business cards. We shake hands and walked away.

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