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A visit to the Dar si Saïd museum

Home -> Africa -> Morocco -> Travelogue Morocco -> 12 September 2003

Friday 12 September, a visit to the Dar si Saïd museum

The day seems to start a bit cooler than the last few days, at most 30 degrees. But when we leave the hotel we find out that the weather has also turned rather muggy. There are grey clouds hanging over the city and since I can't stand humidity in the air (so, why do I live in Holland, you ask? Very good question!) so everything feels very tiring, especially walking. Everyone has problems with it, we notice and we haven't walked far when we stop for the first break at a bar to have a drink. It takes quite some time before we recover a bit. Fortunately, we have found a nice place with view on the Bab Doukkala from where lots of grand taxi's leave for the villages around Marrakech.
On the street On the streetWe now enter the souks at the northern side of the Medina, through Bab Doukkala, an old city gate build in the 12th century. Along the mosque we enter the souks and try to walk southwards, in the direction of Jemaa el Fna, but soon we are hopelessly lost in the maze of all these alleys.
Elisabeth before a palaceWe come across quite some nice gates of old palaces, but also desolate alleys where occasionally we see a beggar sitting. Elisabeth wore a shirt with sleeves the last days, but not today and we feel a bit uncomfortable in this poor area where seldom a tourist visits. The people we meet look silently at us and we pretend to know exactly where we are and where we are going.
We have to go southwards but we can't see the sun since it hides between the clouds; anyway, the alleys are to narrow to see much of the sky.
Delivery of soft drinksUltimately, we arrive on the Jemaa el Fna, the central square of Marrakech. It is still very hot and trucks loaded with soft drinks keep arriving to replenish the restaurant's supplies. We feel exhausted by our long ramble through the old city, but mainly because of the muggy weather and we stay for hours on our favourite roof garden restaurant. From this one we have an excellent view on the square.
Veiled woman The monkey escapesMany women wear head veils, but especially in the old town a lot of women are totally covered, leaving only the eyes free.
To the right a monkey that broke loose and is now chased by his boss. Eventually, it returns to his master since he knows no other people and has no way to go.
Like on the previous days we don't get bored for a second, so many things are happening on the square below us, even on a quiet day like this, since it is friday, the day of prayer for the muslems. From whatever side of the Medina we come, we always find this square back, even when we get lost for some time. A perfect place for a break after a long walk, or after a visit to a palace or castle.
One of the reasons that we went to Marrakech is this famous square. There are always things to do and see, a perfect place to come to after exploring the rest of the city. I have worked in Morocco for half a year and Marrakech was my favourite city, that is why I wanted to take Elisabeth here. Other cities like Fez and Meknes also have their own charm, but not like Marrakech. Casablanca and Rabat are just ordinary cities, in my opinion, and not really worthwhile. The diversity of the people and the cultures that exist in Morocco can all be found here.
Alley Decorated houseAfter our long break on the Jemaa el Fna square we walk the souks southwards, to Dar Si Saïd, an old palace that now houses the museum of Moroccan arts and crafts. Again, we pass small alleys and beautiful gates with mosaic decorations.
Dade palms Time to take a breakThe museum is still closed for half an hour, so we walk a bit further to Qzadria square where we have been before, between the Badi and Bahia palaces. This square actually exists of two squares which are filled with date palms.
You can see on the photograph that we are in need of refreshments again.
We can't stop drinkingThe weather is less muggy than this morning, but much warmer and it is high time to have something to drink. We now always have a bottle of mineral water with us, but a coffee combined with a soft drink tastes much better. After that first combination we order just one drink at a time.
View inside a restaurantThis time no low-flying storks over Caf Palais el-Badi and the streets are quiet since it is the day of prayers for the muslims. Most shops are closing now, although they were all open in the morning when we walked through the souks. To the right a view inside the restaurant where we are sitting.
Dar Si Said museum Dar Si Said museumThe museum includes pottery, jewellery, leatherwork and carpets but the main attraction is the wood carving. From different time periods whole decorated gates have been put here on display. The patio's are, like in other palaces and gardens, oasisses of coolness and rest. Throughout the building we see domes and arches, curved forms, one of the characteristics of islamic architecture that we like so much.
We walk back to Jemaa el Fna and most shops in the souks are closed by now. But we don't notice any more activity near the mosques than on the last days.
Sand storm above MarrakechWe take our place on one of the roof garden terraces where everyone knows by now that we are regulars. But within half an hour a sandstorm suddenly breaks out and we have to flee inside. The sky is turning red and our eyes are sour from the all-penetrating grains of sand.
When the storm has died down a bit we take a cab back to the hotel and have a rest. After sunset (around 7) our normal evening routine starts again: walking to the first bar, have a drink, then have dinner (or just a drink) at Charly's and afterwards we move between several restaurants and bars to have different views on the road and the people. We call it here a routine, but these hours at night have never been boring, not for a moment.
Sitting outside at one bar we saw something remarkable tonight: a man orders a cup of coffee but he leaves before finishing it. Ten minutes later a passer-by, very well dressed, sees the glass with coffee in it, looks around and then slowly drinks the remainder of the coffee. Then he quietly walks on. Later that night, when we pass other bars, I look for half empty glasses of beer, but I don't find them.


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