Every Moroccan visit requires a visit to the local Medina and Souq. The Souq (market) is not only a shopping expedition but a cultural experience in itself. That is where tourists go to shop and to see the Moroccans shop. It is not for the faint-hearted nor those who do not like crowds. The Souq is extremely overwhelming and non-stop eye candy. The sights, the smells, the people watching are amazingly intense. You can literally find everything including the kitchen sink at the Souq (but apparently it takes Moroccan “know-how” to find good old fashioned body lotion!).
Bargaining is a necessity in the Souq. Generally you take the given price and deduct it by 50 or 60% and start from there. It is extremely helpful to speak French or else bargaining can be quite the challenge. The prices are extremely cheap in western standards and it is hard to get out of there without buying too much.
After three visits to the Souq, however, I’ve reached full capacity and do not plan to go back. I’ve had enough! But I did get several great things to bring back home to share with my family and friends. Here is a photo journey of my buying excursion at the Souq:
Andrea and Khadija (our office manager) entering the souq:
Looking the other direction of the medina towards the Ville Nouvelle (new French part of Rabat city):
The old walls of the Medina:
Entering the Souq:
The jelabas (robes with pointed hoods) and caftans (robes without hoods and usually a v neck adorned and decorated) which are the traditional dress in Morocco. In Rabat, you see about half women wearing these robes and half wearing western attire. About half wear the hijab (head scarf) in city and some don’t. It is a personal choice even though it is stated obligatory in Islam. In rural Morocco, you would see everyone wearing hijab and dressed in traditional clothing:
You can even find outfits for belly dancing:
There are lots of shops that sell “babouches” or Moroccan slippers:
And tons of places to buy scarves and blankets (my favorite addiction!):
Moroccan lamps and lanterns are everywhere as well as cats (not for sale!):
The presence of the mosque is all encompassing, especially when you hear the Call to Prayer:
Yet you still can find lots of shops that sell lingerie (exotic and traditional), counterfeit sunglasses and pursues (Chanel seems to be a favorite), traditional shoe repair shops, skinny jeans and t-shirts. We even saw a small shop with four tvs inside where children and men were gathered round and watching shows. Plus there is always the presence of Moroccan mint tea (a specialty and an event in itself).
I especially liked the nicer shops found under the covered part of the souq as seen here:
The architecture inside the Medina was gorgeous as well. There were interesting doors, beautifully tiled terra-cotta roofs in greens and reds, and lots of pretty tiled fountains such as here:
Me taking a breather:
After a couple hours at the souq, the third visit, I bought five blankets, six pillow cases, a scarf and a “hand of fatima” amulet. The gorgeous silk blankets (which are enormous—fits a queen size bed) below costed me about 200 dirhams which is about $15! Who will be the lucky recipient?
And the colorful silk pillow cases ran about $5 each:
I could make a steal selling these at the Pottery Barn!
No more visits to the Souq….I’m “souq-ed” out!
Coming next….the role of women in Morocco and Islam followed by “experiences on the road as an ESL teacher in Rabat”