Maroc – The Workshops

Sunday morning the atelier assistant picked me up… um walking.  And took me to the jewelry store where a craftsman was going to show me how and help me make a thing…  it could be hung on a necklace but it wasn’t silver, some other metal.  I’d put it on wood to display it, not wear it.  So the older gentleman (I do think he was older than me but maybe not!) starts to pick out this square design.  That to my aesthetic was ugly.  I pointed ot the triangular one.  He looked at me every so skeptically, eyebrows raised.  “You think you can do that one?  Yeah right!  But ok you’re the customer.”  No, he didn’t say it in Arabic or French, but I could read his mind from the look on his face.

Ha!  He didn’t know I was crafty!  (Manually and mentally, I think…) So he glues the paper pattern to the metal, drills holes where the area needs to be cut out.  Threads the metal handsaw through the hole and hands it to me.

I was successful.  HA!  The first time I finished a hole and gave it back to him, he had a very puzzled look.  By the third time he was nodding and finally I got a tres bien from him.  So much better than cooking something.

The next day, Monday morning (back to Sunday afternoon later), I was picked up to go to the leather atelier.  The website said you made a business card holder.  But in fact! I made slippers!  This craftsman spoke English and French so we had a great conversation  I cut and pasted.  The rubber cement glue fumes nearly overwhelmed me but with quick trips to the street – the shop was open to the street- I survived.  Just the day before I had had a conversation on FB about red shoes.  FB reminded me of a post I had made of a photo of my red boots.  I said all women should own a pair of red shoes.  At the leather shop I had to choose between turquoise or red leather.  Yup.  Red.  The whole process was interesting and engaging.  Then he brought out his old Pfaff sewing machine.  My mom had one so I thought I ‘d be fine.  But his was very touchy.  Slowly ever so slowly put pressure on the foot to – hopefully – inch forward… no millimeter forward.  Not.  There seemed to be only two speeds.  Off and Super Fast.  After two inches of sewing, I bowed to him and asked him to finish for me.  He was happy to.

How do these people survive?  I was there for 3 hours.  During that time only 4 people stopped at his shop and none bought.  The assistant told me there was more traffic in the afternoon.  OK.  But those slippers were sold for 12 bucks.  Now he can certainly make more than one pair in three hours – maybe 2 or 3 pairs.  But still…

On Sunday afternoon, I ended up with my guide again.  He had his daughter with him and he drove me around.  Much better than a taxi whose driver would have had to negotiate price with me and then not give me a running commentary.  He had offered to do this during our tour on Saturday.  Of course, he said, it would be his pleasure.  For free.  No money.  Because we were friends.

Yeah right.  It was nice for him to say that but I knew I would pay him the same.  And totally worth it to me.  We drove through the new part of Marrakech.  Through the old.  Out to Yves saint Laurent’s museum (I didn’t go in – maybe I should have but I was done with museum experiences at that point – I was relishing the freedom of the car).  And out to the palmier area – full of palm trees and camels.  And camel drivers.  I turned down a camel ride.  But I got some great pictures of a Moroccan dressed in blue caftan with his 5 camels.  Camel abuse?  To get the camel to stand up, he kicked them.  And I have a priceless photo of him in his Bedouin garb talking on an iphone…

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