The drive to Taroudant was less hectic than that from Agadir. We went through rural areas with farms and fields. We also went through large areas of Argan trees (argania spinosa) which grow well in the harsh environment, surviving heat, drought and poor soil. These trees are often seen in pictures of the famous “Tree climbing goats” who climb up to eat the higher leaves. We didn’t see any goats in the trees, at least not close enough to the road to get a photo from the moving bus.
Taroudant is a walled city with ramparts about 6 km long. It was first settled in 1056 and the walls were built in the 16th century. Today it is known as a market town and our main purpose for going there was to visit its souk.
Because of the approaching Muslim holiday the town was busy, especially the souk. Every kind of goods were available there. Clothing, leather goods, food, spices and shoes to name a few. We visited a shop where cosmetics and medicinal substances were made from the fruits of the Argan tree. Women there grind the seeds on stone mills and extract the oil which is used for all sorts of products. (Excuse the not very good picture on the right. I didn’t want to use a flash).
We decided to buy a souvenir at one of the shops in the souk and we had been cautioned that the merchants expect to bargain over the price. That was quite an adventure. Eventually we managed to get what we wanted for only 1/3 of originally quoted price. I’m still not sure if this was a good deal but it was an interesting process.
We left the souk around 4 pm and it was starting to get very busy. In fact the guide had to enlist the help of several others to make sure our group kept together so no one got lost in the narrow, twisting side streets. We learned later that many people believe they can get the best bargains toward the end of the day when the merchants are tired and ready to go home.
Before returning to Agadir we visited the Hotel Palais Salam for refreshments. Jan and I tried the national drink, Mint Tea. Very good but quite sweet. The Hotel was beautiful though it appeared to not have many guests at that time.
Our return to Agadir was rather thrilling. Incredible traffic with cars, trucks, motorbikes and bicycles everywhere. The school children sometimes attend school 15 km or more from their homes and ride bikes back and forth. The bikes have no reflectors or lights and there are no bike lanes on the narrow roads. Then back in Agadir we encountered a terrific traffic jam. Some of the most aggressive driving I have ever seen. We were almost 1 hour late returning to the ship but they waited for us. 😉
That evening they had a fabulous barbecue on the ship with lobster, a whole roast pig, lamb, beef, chicken and more other food than I can describe. After dinner we went to the lounge where the performer was doing a “TV Theme Song Trivia” contest. Our team won the first round and a bottle of champagne. Of course, with eight team members the bottle didn’t go too far.
The souk was not impressive to me…I did not like seeing the flies over the food, the dirt pathways, or the merchants grabbing you at every opportunity in order to convince you to bargain for their merchandise. With all the crowds, all I can say is I’m glad I don’t have to go to this market every week. You didn’t mention that a person can spend up to 3 hours bargaining for one or two articles of merchandise!
Have to comment on that souk thing. The store with the open bags of whatever looked like it catered to the upper-crust. I understand your not liking flies on your food, Jan.
Mexico (my only long trip outside the US & Canada), also works on the street and in shops on the haggling system. I did not engage in the game of “let’s see how far I can ‘Jew’ them down.”
Instead, I put a price in my mind of what I was willing to *pay* to get whatever it was. If lower than the asking price it was my first and final offer. Surprising how well that works.
Mike; because of the festival/holiday approaching a lot of people were buying various spices. That shop in the picture had a container of saffron which would would be wortht a small fortune in the US. I didn’t ask about the local price.
I have to admit, that shop was just beautiful! Here in North America, a shop like that (indoors, or course) would be gangbusters in a populated place like NYC, LA, Chicago, or probably even Miami.