Saturday, December 3, 2016

Lost in the Souk

I waited for Chris at the tanneries for quite a while, taking these pictures:

drying hide

What you just saw are vats filled with all the necessities of making leather. You have your dyes, made from various plants and such, as well as modern chemicals, and you have your camel urine and pigeon poop, too, both used to soften the hides and help the tanning process.

Want to throw up yet?

Imagine being one of those guys who stands in that stuff all day long, making your leather coats and wallets and purses and belts.

You had to go through shops to get to a place to look at the vats. I thought it was a ploy to get me to buy something, and I was firm in my insistence that I would not. A man said, no matter, come look at the tanneries, so I followed him through the shop to the balcony. The stench was awful. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was enough to be uncomfortable, and you definitely wouldn’t want to eat anything around there, especially knowing that camel urine and pigeon poop were part of the stench. The African sun was blazing as I stood there wondering if Chris would be able to find me after we had gotten separated, if he had received my messages, or if he would just always be lost in the souk. Suddenly, some guy yelled at me to give him his money. I have no idea why. I thought maybe he was the shopowner and he wanted me off his balcony since I had been standing there so long. As I did not want an uncomfortable encounter, I left the shop, deciding to retrace my steps and hoping to find Chris somewhere along the way. It had been more than twenty minutes; I didn’t think he’d be sensible enough to stay put, but it was worth a shot.

I did the entire loop around the tanneries and he was nowhere to be found. A guy approached me and said something about an “hombre” in Spanish, and I laughed, because I knew he was talking about Chris. He told me to follow him, so I did, and he led me to the same shop I had just left. A whole English speaking tour group was leaving the shop, and several people asked “Are you looking for your boyfriend?” as they descended the stairs. I just laughed. A shop employee led me up the stairs to Chris. Apparently, he had been there and had seen me on the balcony, but instead of going straight to me, he went to the bathroom in the shop, just enough time for me to leave. All the shop employees were laughing at the ordeal.

Then I got Chris a jacket for Christmas. I even bargained a bit, knocking $70 off the price. We were going to wait for Marrakesh to make our purchases, but the whole experience made it seem like this was the right shop to buy something.

Here are some pics of the area surrounding the tanneries:

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