All along the way Kim kept snapping away taking pictures of local people as they went about their business. She had to be quick however and mostly secretive about what she was doing because a lot of people were not that happy about having their photographs taken. The Muslim faith does not permit images of people and on most occasions when someone saw a camera pointed their way they would either turn away or wag a reproachful finger to say no.
Following directions from local people is not always completely reliable in Morocco especially when getting advice on the location of a restaurant from a rival café waiter but the man we asked seemed genuine enough and we followed his instructions and entered the fresh fruit and vegetable souk where there was the same eclectic mix of colour, the flash of flowing robes, the warnings that a donkey or a mule was coming through regardless of who might be in the way, shoppers, children, invalids all pushing, shoving, competing all along a narrow covered street with a wooden roof that blotted out the sunlight with exuberant displays of produce, spices, food, pastries, meat and local delicacies. The Souks were busier today because Sunday is a main trading day and all of the shops were open and there was a torrent of people and activity and more noise.
The directions were perfect and soon we came across a sign that directed us into a small alley towards the entrance to the Café Clock which is a restored building where once there was a genuine water clock on the site but is now a chic restaurant with a growing reputation as the place to be and be seen. We climbed the stairs through the assortment of rooms but it was sunny so we wanted to be outside so we continued to climb to the roof terrace and not being satisfied even with that we climbed yet more steps until we had the most elevated table in the building which was going to be certain chore for the waiters who would come to serve us.
Here at the top was a fine table and a random assortment of benches and chairs and with canvas canopies to protect from the heat of the sun and a wide view across the roof top washing lines full of clean clothes all the way to the snow capped Atlas Mountain that were gleaming in the strong sunshine which reflected all around.
The restaurant had a tempting menu including its signature, must try, dish of camel burger. This was too much to contemplate for the girls but Micky and I decided that being here we really must have it. And we were glad that we did because it could easily have been mistaken for beef it tasted delicious and we enjoyed it. We also liked sitting in the hot sun at the top of the terrace and we stayed for a while and wasted some time away mindful that we still had quite a long afternoon ahead before driving to the airport for the drive home.
Eventually of course we had to leave so we negotiated the steep steps, paid our bill and went back out into the streets. We had had enough of the souks by now so we made our way back through the butchers’ bazaar on Talaa Kabira to Bab Boujloud and left the heaving tangle of Arab and Berber market streets behind us.
We stayed in the open streets now and away from the souks as we wandered in a westerly direction, (well, I think it was a westerly direction but it was difficult to be absolutely sure) along a narrow busy street where we had to have our wits about us not to be knocked over by the horse drawn tourist carriages that seemed to use this as a principal sightseeing route. And then there were the motorbikes and the push bikes that made no concessions to pedestrians which meant this was not really the place to have a casual stroll.
Lining the roads there were mostly local shops and little stores selling food and household items each with a single door and a gloomy interior with boxes and tins stacked from ceiling to floor to make use of all of the available space.
Outside of the ochre walls of the Medina there was an open air market, rather like Meknes but without the entertainment and lots of merchandise for sale in a car-boot sale sort of way spread out on plastic sheets on the pavement. We walked outside the city walls through a main gate to a busy main road and then returned through the next one only a hundred metres away and decided that we had seen all that we really wanted to see, had made all the purchases that we wanted to make and now would be a good time to walk back to the Riad.
It was four o’clock when we arrived back so we ordered tea and pastries and sat on the terrace enjoying what was most likely going to be the last warm sunshine that we were going to experience for a few months as we were returning now to the UK. Abdul was due to collect us at five o’clock and the hour just raced by as we soaked up the sights and smells of the city for the final time before handing over what we thought were the appropriate tips to the hotel staff and Abdul led us to his taxi and back to the airport.
There was a magnificent clear sky all across the city as darkness descended and the temperature began to drop with a sort of vermilion blue sandwiching the orange sunset into the bronze skyline and we all rather wished that we had another day or two to spend here before going home. We had enjoyed Fez, the souks, the shopping (well, some of us anyway), the day out to Volubilis, and Meknes but most of all we all agreed the Riad Layali!
I hope the waiters got their deserved tips? 🙂
I think we left them a dirham or two – they deserved it!