What a day we’ve had in Meknes! Today was a free day and we definitely made the most of it…although like Lauren said, at the end of every day, I can’t actually believe any of what happened actually happened.
We woke up to go to the souq in the medina to do some shopping. Alexa, Julia, Lauren, Ben and I were walking towards the medina when Ben made friends with a passerby named Mohammed [no surprise there..everyone is named Mohammed!!!] who spoke a little English and told us he had a shop in the medina and would take us there and then show us around. He took us to his shop and introduced us to his partner Abdul. They had stacks and stacks of amazingly colored Berber carpets made of wool and cactus silk. Julia and I haggled with Abdul over two beautiful carpets while drinking mint and sage tea and Ben talked about rock and roll with Mohammed- it was such a weird sequence of events! Finally, we settled on prices- D900, which is about $120, for carpets which are imported for thousands. My carpet is gorgeous red and yellow striped silk. Lauren bought a pouf made of camel skin that was embossed and beautiful. Then, Mohammed took us around on an insider’s tour of the medina to things that we never could have found on our own, through winding alleyways and down cobblestone paths. Occasionally, he would knock on a door and take us into a friend’s house for a tour. They were all beautiful. In one house, he took us upstairs onto a terrace that overlooked the entire medina, and it was a gorgeous view. All of the houses look broken down and sloppy on the outside, but the inside is breathtaking. It’s interesting how that works here. The inside is more important than the outside, and that is shown through everything.
He also took us to see the oven that heats the hammams [public baths] and the man who sits at the bottom of a ledge and shovels sandalwood dust into a kiln. We went by a cedar wood shop filled with delicious smelling carved wood and sawdust. We saw the village apothecary who we bought amber blocks of perfume from. Then Mohammed took us to the metalworking part of the medina and Julia and I bought handmade metal khamsas that we saw the silversmith making by hammering silver wire onto black metal- it was the coolest thing ever! Eventually we told Mohammed goodbye and attempted to find our way to the Bab la Mansour, but the market was so packed with people by that point that we got lost several times. Finally, Ben used his French to get us to the edge of the medina where we caught taxis back to the Hamriya.
We took two hour naps, then went on an “adventure” to find somewhere to eat, because most things were closed by the time we went out. We ended up eating in what we think was a brothel..because we were the only people at the restaurant until a skanky-looking woman showed up to meet a much older, creepy guy for dinner, where she proceeded to “accidentally” drop her cigarette into his lap..ahem. There were also two gay men who got very drunk and were on the verge of making out until a third possibly-gay man joined them. We were sketched out and left as soon as possible. It was such an interesting day…I’m so glad that we go out and do things I would never do at home. I would never follow a random stranger on a tour around a strange city in America, but here it’s totally normal. I would never normally wander around in a place where no one speaks the same language, or eat dinner feet away from a prostitute. I’m doing so many crazy things here, and’s just another normal day in Morocco! Every day just keeps getting better and better!
Hopefully I’ll be able to post this tomorrow at school; we have our first Religion, Politics, and Culture class at 8:30am. Goodnight, all!

Salaam wa hubb,

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