I am a flaneur, a walker. To walk, to stroll (not my pace but it works for others), to see things at eye level with the ability to explore farther – this is the way to discover a city. I love great walking cities: Paris, of course, Prague, New York, London, and San Francisco are a few. I like walking in the sun, the rain, the snow and I will walk in the heat, if I must. This day the sun was sparkling in a sky so blue you could fall into it and get lost. A few high flying white fluffy clouds just to define a nice chill and I was set.
I went out this morning with the intention to visit the bank in New
City to get cash, like you do, and then have lunch, read a bit, and pick up my new djellaba that is being altered; but as often happens in Morocco that’s not how it went. The bank, as it is so often, was out of money, which I needed to have to lunch at Le Grand Comptoir as I thought to have fish. I walked as far as the Gare de Ville rearranging my day in my head as I walked. Taking a taxi to Chez Paul in Agdal, I then walked over to the bank, which always has money, and made my withdrawal. As long as I was there I visited La Vie en Rose and did a small bit of shopping – something white and lacy. Having traversed the boulevard I decided not to return to Paul’s but instead to lunch at one of the sidewalk cafés where Q and I had eaten before. Wonderful service, great French fires with mayonnaise, and delicious lamb for a pittance.
After lunch I started walking in the direction of New City thinking I would catch a taxi as soon as I no longer recognized any landmarks. I walked past the computer stores that are located past the clothes-shopping district, only HP and Dell – Apple is located somewhere to the north I think.
I continued over the bridge as I remember coming this way. Now I was walking past the shops for house paint and mirrors and other items for refinishing and refurbishing a house or apartment.
Then the auto parts of every ilk.
Next were antiques, chandeliers, and lamps; with one cedar table and set of chairs to die for – but as I reminded myself I have no use for at present.
By now I was far enough along that I was thinking I could make it to the train station, pick up my djellaba (as it was now past three p.m.) and take a taxi the rest of the way home. I continued in the general direction of west even though I recognized nothing by this time. I stopped at a pharmacy and then a furniture store to “ask” directions. It’s amazing what you can garner from a conversation when you understand not-one-single-word.
As I rounded the next curve in the road I saw the walls of the Medina ahead and began to recognize landmarks. I had completely bypassed the New City and come around to end on the other side of the Medina! Some six miles or better I guess. Inshallah. I can pick up the djellaba on another day.
Looking to the right I saw what appeared to be a mini-Marjane, Label’ Vie Supermarche’. It is indeed a small market with fruit, a meat section in the back (under glass!), and Haagen-Dazs ice crème! I bought some apples and Clementines – this year’s crop is sad compared to last year where there were carts of them in the street and you could buy a kg. for less than ten dirhams. Something happened, not enough rain – something I’m not certain what. The “orange juice man” in the Oudayas has converted his hannout to selling gas for the winter as he says the price of the oranges is too high to make it profitable for him. And yes I bought two (!) pints of ice crème, Pralines and Crème. At the check-out I had not had my fruit weighed and priced (didn’t know I should, didn’t know where) and instead of stopping the line and looking at me like I was a stupid git, the nice young woman called over some one else who took my fruit and had it priced, bagged, and returned while she moved the line along around me. I’ll be back.
Coming to the Medina walls I saw Oued Dahab, a shopping mall of sorts that I keep meaning to check out. I went in to find I’m not missing anything – it’s full of sneakers and not much else.
As I took an unfamiliar road into the Medina I saw six old men lined up along the walk, sitting at rickety tables with ancient typewriters, some with an umbrella for shade. They had people sitting in the extra chair at the table and were typing letters and documents for them. What an enterprise, out of time.
The dates are spectacular and cheap this season as I noted coming past the Medina market. The King’s dates are marked down to 100 dirhams/kg. and look delicious.
Arriving home I had tea, dates and Clementines, and cake while watching “Amazing Grace” with Ioan Gruffudd, as William Wilberforce the Englishman who was the driving force behind the abolition of slavery in Britain. A wonderful film, really well done. I recommend this one.