Marrakech. (Or Marrakesh.)

How is Marrakech different from Fes, you’re perhaps asking. In a word: More. Add an -er or an -ier or a “more” to everything, and that’s Marrakech. Faster-moving, louder, crazier in every way. Pushier. Hotter. More exhausting.

But we’re here, and we’re making our way. We’re staying in low-cost riads because we’re not in Madonna’s 60th-birthday party entourage, which means the taxi drops you at the gate to the ancient medina, and the person from your guest house meets you and escorts you the rest of the way, your bags going bump-bump-bump on the bricks or cobbles. Remember I mentioned that in Fes, you mostly walk, but there are also donkeys and occasional motor scooters? OK, with the -er intensifier mentioned above, in Marrakesh there are LOTS of motor scooters. Mopeds, Vespa-type scoots, even full-size motorcycles and they are not messing around. Five minutes on the street, and your heart is in your mouth, having witnessed 17 near-miss accidents that somehow never happened, praise Allah.

I’m talking THAT’S A GRANDMA OH GOD or WATCH OUT FOR THAT OLD MAN, or HELLO THERE’S A HEAD-ON COLLISION ABOUT TWO MICROSECONDS FROM HAPPENING or, from this morning, DUDE THAT IS A BABY IN A DAMN STROLLER YOU CANNOT PASS CLOSE ENOUGH TO STIR HIS CORNSILK HAIR LIKE THAT, and yet — this is all day every day. It’s just the way things are, and I guess people are simply used to it, because mothers let their children toddle in the streets and the only person I’ve seen being treated for any injury at all was a woman, a tourist, about my age, and it looked like she’d just twisted her ankle or something.

I’d include pictures, but the internet here is very very slow, so.

And you don’t even want to hear about the roads outside the medina, which are simply insane. To all of the above, add full-size cars, buses, horses and speed.

We haven’t yet seen the famous square, the Djemaa el Fna, in its full after-dark glory, but in broad daylight, it is a carnival of tourists and animal cruelty. On this, the guidebooks are clear — do what you want, but be advised that for every dirham you flip to a “snake charmer,” you’re supporting a racket that takes cobras, extracts their fangs, sews their mouths shut except for a small slot for their flicking tongue, then waits for them to starve to death, upon which they’re replaced. The “monkey men” are handling Barbary macaques from the wild, poached by criminal gangs and similarly abused. There were only a few out early today (it’s Friday, the Sunday of Islam), and yet there were fat Western tourists posing for photographs with both. Probably Russians.

But the worst was when I saw a horse slip and fall in the traces on the slick tile pavement. Horses can handle city pavement fine (ask any mounted cop) when they’re properly shod, but I expect that would require more money than a carriage driver can afford, or is willing to pay.

The horse successfully regained its feet, but ugh.

In other news, I’m listening closely to the calls to prayer, and am starting to pick out individual words in the chanting. Last Sunday it just sounded like moaning, but now I can hear the Alllaaaahu ak-baaarr, so that’s a start. And listening closely is sort of required, as there are lots of mosques around the older parts of the city, and that’s where we are.

Now back at the riad, reading “The Nickel Boys” and catching up on news from back home. I wish I could say it hasn’t come this far, but alas, it has.

Posted at 12:10 pm in Uncategorized |

43 responses to “Marrakech. (Or Marrakesh.)”

  1. Alan Stamm said on October 18, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Marhaba . . . salaam. May the scooters not be with you.

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  2. Deborah said on October 18, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    You certainly are getting an authentic taste of it. I think I would stroke out watching those scooters.

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 18, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Al-Hamdu lillah ‘ala-s-salaama!

    I did not know that about the cobras. I’m guessing those goats don’t get any better, either. Thanks for taking us with you.

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  4. Jakash said on October 18, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    “‘Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.’ – my new outgoing message”

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  5. Brian stouder said on October 19, 2019 at 11:09 am

    This all sounds marvelous, and indeed – Thanks for taking us along. I think travel and discovery is genuinely marvelous and a definitively human trait (and virtue)

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  6. alex said on October 19, 2019 at 11:17 am

    I have to recommend NN.C on this date in 2016 for the apparent hubris we were feeling going into that election, as well as the spirited discussion of transgenderism.

    Almost makes me not want to get too excited about my expectation that Trump is going from Pennsylvania Ave. to a penitentiary.

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  7. LAMary said on October 19, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    I stole that link and shared it on FB, Jakash. It’s too good to not share.

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  8. Deborah said on October 19, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    I’ve been reading the new Ta Nehisi Coates book The Water Dancer and it is excellent. It expounds on some of the things that I didn’t know that came out in the NYT 1619 series, and it describes things about the Underground Railroad that I also hadn’t known. I never knew how organized and strategic the Underground was, it always came off to me as haphazard and even sloppy, because I didn’t know any better. The book also involves magic realism which is fascinating and entertaining. I highly recommend it.

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  9. LAMary said on October 19, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Miles O’Keefe is back.

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  10. Ann said on October 19, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    A great report. I also did not know that about the snakes. Yuck. I liked Fes much more than Marrakesh when I was there oh so many years ago. Where next?

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  11. Brandon said on October 19, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    “Inside Madonna’s 60th Birthday Party in the Desert.”

    And Malcolm Forbes’s 70th birthday party in August, 1989.

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  12. David C. said on October 19, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    LAMary, I wondered why anyone would care about the worst Tarzan ever (Miles O’Keefe) being back. I’m almost half relieved that it’s James O’Keefe who is tied for second (with every other wingnut welfare recipient)for the biggest asshole in the world.

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  13. LAMary said on October 19, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    You are right, David C. The article I read got it wrong and I just lamely shared it.

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  14. JodiP said on October 19, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Nancy–it looks so beautiful and heartbreaking.

    National Geographic had an article not long ago about animal exploitation and tourism.

    I myself got back last evening from 10 days in Florence; it was a solo trip. I had an amazing time. Great VRBO spot and host; lots of art, food and shopping, couple live music performances. Many people were great about teaching me more Italian, too, especially people in the shops. Apparently, my accent’s pretty good, so hooray!

    Woke up Saturday morning and within 5 minutes my sister called with news my mom had fallen again, so we’re at the hospital waiting for doctor rounds. (No broken hips or other bones at least.) I just found out on Wednesday her formerly cured breast cancer has metastisized. So, we’re likely looking at palliative/hospice care as she is far too frail to withstand any chemo.

    So many intense feelings colliding right now.

    If that hyperlink doesn’t work, I’m not going to try to fix it. Jet lag is creeping up even though I slept 8 hours last night. In Florence, it’s nearly 11:00 p.m., in MN nearly 4:00.

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  15. Deborah said on October 19, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    Today is our last full day (and night) in Abiquiu this trip. We go back to Santa Fe tomorrow where we will be until we leave for Chicago Thursday. We have to close things down for the winter here in the cabin as we won’t be back until January. We have a little over a month in Chicago, then France for two weeks in the first half of December, then California for the Christmas holidays. I’m obviously mostly excited about being in France again. We are quite possibly looking at a really exciting design project in France that may involve multiple trips over the next year or so. I will explain more later as things evolve and it looks more realistic, but so far it’s looking more and more possible.

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  16. LAMary said on October 19, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Deborah, if you’re in Southern California get in touch. We could split an order of olives again.

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  17. Deborah said on October 19, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Will do LA Mary, but I’ll be in Desert Hot Springs, Then Death Valley, then Pasadena, so not really in the area I was before.

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  18. susan said on October 19, 2019 at 10:38 pm


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  19. Sherri said on October 19, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    It was interesting to go back and read the discussion on transgenderism. A lot has changed in my experience around this topic in the last few years; I’ve met quite a few transgender people, the issue of transgender athletes is a hot topic in powerlifting, and in my work with the ACLU board, transgender policy is an issue.

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  20. Connie said on October 20, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Yesterday I had the wonderfully unexpected experience of meeting my Congresswoman Haley Stevens. I pulled into a parking place and realized there was a news interview going on on the sidewalk to my left. And recognized her immediately. I watched the rest of the interview and then introduced myself. She was friendly and talkative so I shared that I have known West Michigan Congressman Bill Huizenga since he was a baby. At that she made a point of memorizing my name so she could tell him she met a “myname” from Zeeland. She had just done a town hall on opiods.

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  21. ROGirl said on October 20, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    “She had just done a town hall on opiods.”

    Was the topic of the town hall opiods?

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  22. Brian stouder said on October 20, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    OK – still laughing out loud in response to RO Girl’s query about post #20!

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  23. Connie said on October 21, 2019 at 5:06 am

    Umm. Topic.

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 21, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Susan, glad to see you support baptism by immersion.

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  25. Jakash said on October 21, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Trump vs. Trump: Kurds edition.

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  26. Dorothy said on October 21, 2019 at 11:43 am

    Are you enjoying The Nickel Boys? A co-worker recommended it – she said it was on President Obama’s summer reading list.

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  27. Dorothy said on October 21, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Mary – are you okay out there at home? I’m seeing reports about fresh fires in LA and I thought of you right away.

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  28. LAMary said on October 21, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    So far we’re ok. I live in what’s now called a high fire danger zone so my homeowner’s insurance is ridiculous. Most insurance companies won’t cover my neighborhood anymore. We just did more tree trimming and all the rest and the fire department is supposed to do the rounds of the area tomorrow to check properties for fire hazards. It’s nerve racking. There’s about another month of Santa Ana winds and then I can relax a bit about that stressor in my life. It’s been a rough year in a lot of ways.

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  29. Sherri said on October 21, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Sure wish I could send some of our rain your way, LAMary.

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  30. Dexter Friend said on October 22, 2019 at 1:56 am

    LAMary glad to see you are OK. I am worried about actor/comedian Jay Mohr who has had a horrible year after his marriage disintegrated (Nikki Cox) over a year ago which set Mohr into crippling depression as he soiled himself in bed for days at a time. He finally recovered well enough to get back to his life of acting, stand-up comedy, and radio appearances. His home is in Pacific Palisades which was burning up yesterday.

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  31. Deborah said on October 22, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Yikes, the famous Eames house is in Pacific Palisades, hope it’s ok, I can’t find anything about it burning on line, so maybe it survived. Pacific Palisades isn’t a large community.

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  32. Dorothy said on October 22, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Dexter is it weird that I find it kind of strange that you know that about Jay Mohr? How did you learn about those details? I Googled his name and the last ‘news’ I turned up was August 2018 about the end of his marriage. They have a young son and Mohr reportedly moved into a different home to keep the son away from his ex who has drug problems.

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  33. Sherri said on October 22, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Chris Cilizza is an idiot because he doesn’t seem to grasp that Senate prospects for the Dems are improving *because* of impeachment.

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  34. Jenine said on October 22, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    I just discovered this nonprofit news site: Anybody else reading? Hoping for more news sources as newpapers dwindle.

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  35. Icarus said on October 22, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Least we forget that the USA is not the only country trying to set its clock back to the dark ages…

    I can now be both ashamed of my country and that of my ancestors

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  36. Deborah said on October 22, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    I wonder who the author is?

    This should be interesting.

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  37. Dexter Friend said on October 22, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Jay Mohr sometimes calls into Bennington, an XM radio show, XM 103. A couple months ago Mohr called in to promote a stand-up gig and he told the story. I assumed he still lives in Pacific Palisades since he always mentioned that…I did not know he had moved. He detailed his breakdown, his onset of bad depression…crippling depression. He did not get into what propelled him to “come out of it”. I did notice Mohr did not get into his typical spot-on impressions of actors, specifically Al Pacino. He has not called in since that day. But I am not surprised …I am always coming up with facts people dismiss as bullshit. The world is full of incredible truths that seem fake. I suppose there is no internet blurb anywhere that detail a famous man sinking so low as Mohr did.

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  38. Sherri said on October 22, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    One of my pet peeves is the public apology that says that this terrible thing I did or said does not reflect who I am. No, you moron, it may not reflect who you want to be, but it most certainly reflects who you are.

    The latest example is Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubmann, who also seems more apologetic for using the word “fucking” than he does for demeaning women.

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  39. Dorothy said on October 22, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    Dexter I promise I did not doubt what you said. I was just interested to know how you knew those details. If anything this was a reminder that there are many ways to learn something, and the internet is not the only source of learning. My husband was severely depressed about 18 years ago and he took medication and saw a therapist regularly for a few years. He is not keen to share anything with most people about that time, so knowing that Jay Mohr shared that kind of detail on a radio call in show is rather stunning. And I can’t help but think of how that could potentially help a listener who was debilitated by depression and let them know they are not alone. I salute him for being so open about his struggles.

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  40. Deborah said on October 22, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    We just got back from closing on the Santa Fe apartment. We now own it and I’m so relieved. We bought it for LBs sake, so she doesn’t have to worry about her future and neither do I. So all of the improvements we made to the interior and the grounds has not been in vain. Our former landlady gave us a good deal but it took a couple of months to iron it all out. We’re going out for dinner tonight and tomorrow we’re taking our former landlady out to lunch. Yippie!

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  41. alex said on October 22, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    I want to be trusting of the idea that you can take your 90-year-old mother to a hospital and they’ll be looking out for her best interests. But I’m becoming concerned that we may have made a mistake last Friday when we called the EMS and had her taken to the local ER.

    She went from sharp as a tack to practically comatose in a couple of hours. I realize at 90 that this is a real possibility. I had dropped by for a visit last Friday evening and my parents were their normal selves. They were waiting for Jeopardy! to come on and my mom gave a spirited replay of everything Rachel Maddow had said about the latest Trump scandals. Around 10:20 my dad called me and was very worried. I went over and my mom was staring into space and for the most part unresponsive. We thought perhaps she’d had a stroke.

    We called the EMS. The medics did a stroke test and said there was no stroke. They took her to the ER and we drove over there and waited with her for several hours. They did tests. Her heart was fine. Her blood was fine. Her urinalysis showed a UTI and the doctor said that UTIs in old people can cause temporary dementia. We knew this. We figured she’d be home the next day. Well here it is Tuesday and they haven’t found anything definitively wrong but they keep finding reasons to hold her, none of which have been satisfactorily explained.I figure they’re trying to max out her insurance and if they’re still trying to hold her after tomorrow I’m going to go over there personally and demand some answers.

    Has anyone else had such an experience? She’s fine and wants to go home. She was practically back to normal once she got some IV fluids into her on Friday night. This is becoming concerning. And the hospital doesn’t want to coordinate with my mom’s private physician according to my dad, so there’s no communication going on there. And they haven’t explained to my dad what they’re doing or what their concerns are and he’s freaking out that she’s never going to come home. And that’s not like him because he’s a calm and reasoned person not given to panic.

    I seriously want to go tell them they can rip off her insurance all they want when she’s on her deathbed but I’m not going to let them drive her to death just yet.

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  42. LAMary said on October 22, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Alex, I’ll try to track down some of my old hospital cronies and see what they say. I have friends in a stroke center and in the ER, both nurse practitioners, and they might have some insight. If I find anything out I’ll let you know.
    On the “get Mary out of the really fucked up dysfunctional office front there is news. My contract ended last week. By Monday I had two offers of new jobs. One paid a lot but was at a hospital with big problems. It is also at least an hour and a half away. I have grown to truly hate long commutes. The other job pays less. The company is growing. The people who interviewed me were very normal and nice. I can take the light rail there from the end of my street to the back of the new job’s building. I accepted the lower pay job. I start next week. If anyone needs any ophthalmic surgery in SoCal, let me know. I can see if I can arrange a discount.

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  43. Dexter Friend said on October 23, 2019 at 2:14 am

    Not me Mary; my eye doctors say they rarely see 70 year old men with 20/20 vision, by the eye charts. I do use readers, less strain. Glad you got a job. I live a pauper’s life, sorta, but I would rather it than working. 43 years of that was enough for me. My old worker-friends are dropping quickly, sometimes 2 in one day. I force myself to read the obits so I can send flowers and sign the book at least. __ Dorothy, this radio host talks freely of his addiction problems and his 12-step recovery,in a humorous way , it being a comedy show. Maybe once a month someone calls in asking for advice and he takes their call off the air or asks them to send a text. Two days ago their tour, “Kreeps With Kids” ( Ron Bennington, Jim Florentine, Bobby Kelly, and Rich Vos) played Pittsburgh and Ronnie told how a late-middle-age lady spoke with him as he had a cigar outside. She said she was sinking away due to alcohol when a number of years ago she accidentally found his old radio show, which lifted her spirits, and she got inspired by all the sober, reformed drunks that guest on the show, she took the first step to sobriety and now has some years sober, and is happy today. __ Alex, I wish you well as you take this day by day. My brother had an event like this and I brought it up here on nn dot com . All I know is his wife sold the house and they moved over by the Mississippi River into a retirement community and I have not heard a word, not one call…nothing…for 4 or 5 years. It’s hard to just be cut off by a brother due to some brain malfunction. He won’t take calls or texts or emails. Good luck Alex.

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