The Burnetts are busy again! They spent the first part of the last week socializing like the last person on earth in those post-apocalyptic zombie movies who finally run into fellow non-zombies. Our non-zombies consisted of some fun Australians, Kiwis, Dutch, and people from Illinois (not sure what they are called, really: they apparently don’t have a unifying moniker that rolls off the tongue.) The Burnetts had a huge party where once again they packed the saloon with cruisers. And, of course, Allie went on a sleepover binge after discovering two English-speaking girls around her age. After a few days of that, however, Allie had questionable non-zombie status.
There is a lot to see, smell, and hear in Morocco. There is also a lot to pay for. Apparently, being nice to tourists and helping someone with directions is a reimbursable skill. However, it’s not entirely ridiculous – we are at a place where directions are given as, “Turn right at the old men sitting on the corner, and then left at the man selling live chickens.”
The Burnetts have toured Sale, Rabat, and Fes. We have been overwhelmed with fun, new experiences here. We took a train into Fes, a cool experience that inspired us all to read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express on the way back. On the train, of course, we met a pleasant man in our first class car who tried to sell us tours, naming Allie, Fatima, and Tommy, Abdul. In Fes, we spent a couple of nights in some riads (small hotels made out of old mansions), the Riad Idrissy and Riad Zamane, and both were lovely. We got a guide recommended by the Riad Idrissy who took us through the sprawling UNESCO World Heritage medina, and he led us through narrow passageways that would open up into medieval buildings where people made handicrafts just as they had for centuries. Everyone was working hard for your money, but they remained pleasant, breaking into huge smiles when you attempted to say “Thank you” in Moroccan Arabic. “Shoekraan.” Americans can appreciate that.
At one point, this happened:
Greg: “I booked us all a Hammam at our riad (Riad Zamane).”
Mel:”Okay. What’s that?”
Greg:”It’s like a spa.”
Mel googles it, of course. Islam values personal hygiene, and hammams are essentially communal baths. There are public hammams that are cheaper, and she read a particularly harrowing account of a Western woman who went to one to find herself being scrubbed until she bled by a naked, well-endowed grandma.
Greg:”Oh, the private hammams are different.”
Tommy preferred to take a nap (he can google, too, apparently), so Mel, Allie, and Greg show up fully clothed at the door, only to be told to come back wearing nothing but bathrobes. They comply and are led into a warm room with wooden benches, buckets, and faucets. A woman comes in and asks everyone to disrobe. Allie sits on the floor, probably traumatized, looking at her parents laying on benches, naked. The nice woman (who remains clothed, by the way) then proceeds to dump buckets of warm water over each of them in turn, soap them up, exfoliate the crap out of them with an abrasive hand mitt, then cover them with Moroccan Argan oil. Hmmmm…Mel thought. Always wondered what Argan oil was for.
All of our senses are full now. The Moroccans have an appreciation for fine detail and lots of different repeating elements that encompasses not only their art and architecture, but also their food. Many meals consist of giant pots with mixtures of all of the food groups. Except, of course, pork, which the Burnetts consider to be a food group. In summary, to revert into NerdSpeak for a bit, the Fourier transform of Morocco has a preponderance of high frequency-components. In other words, a microelectrode recording of anywhere in the Moroccan traveler’s brain (when wandering around the souks) would sound like a warren of baby rabbits being attacked by feral cats. After such a journey, one needs a nap.
So here are about a thousand pictures for you to peruse. Make yourself comfortable. Afterwards, you’re going to need to sleep for a really long time.