“Keep your window shut and the curtains closed all day today.” The hotel manager advised me when I came back from a morning walk around the ‘hood’. “Why?” “The King will be driving down this street and the police told us to keep all windows closed.” “Okay.” I said okay because I didn’t think there would be a possibility to argue against King Mohammed VI’s wishes. So I did as told. Later, curiosity got the best of me and I walked down the end of the street to a restaurant that is on a corner intersection and asked where King Mohammed VI could be seen driving out of town. The restaurant hostess pointed out that his entourage would drive down the street and around the next corner and to the side of the hotel where I’m staying; but that wouldn’t be below my room. I sat and ate my lunch, drank two delicious small tea pots and glasses of mint tea and waited. No king. So I walked back to my hotel and read awhile. Later I heard sirens and horn honking and I assumed the king was making his trip out of town. I missed it. I later took a long walk to the theater and new opera house. All along the way there were men trying to sell me something: a watch, a ride on a horse drawn carriage, a taxi, a place to sit inside a cafe shop and an umbrella: all this in a matter of a few blocks. Once when it would be necessary to walk across a busy intersection, I stopped and asked a man who just walked across facing me if he would mind walking across with me. He said, in French, he’d be happy to help me, but when we got to the curb, there were two Muslim ladies there and I said I’d go with them. The gentleman said something to them and they agreed to walk across with me; laughing all the way. Every time I make it across the street I figuratively pat myself on the back. It’s the worst possible traffic free-for-all I’ve ever seen. Even when at an occasional green walk-light, vehicles don’t stop for pedestrians.
When I got to the theatre/culture center, there were a few men sitting on the steps, and inside a woman sat on a chair in the dark lobby. She didn’t smile and barely answered me when I asked if I could look inside. I didn’t know if she was in charge or just sitting there, so I walked in. A man suddenly stood next to me and asked, “English or French?” I looked at him as if asking him why he wanted to know. “I am a concierge.” “Oh, are you an official concierge for the theatre and cultural center?” “I will show you the theatre and the opera.” Well, there was something I didn’t quite believe about him and I took a photo of him. “No. No photos of me.” He threw his arm up but I thought I had a good shot. Later when looking at the photo, I saw that his arm hid his face. He seemed to be in a hurry and impatient with me while I would stop and take a photo. I was quite glad when the ‘tour’ was over. He left after I gave him a tip of about $1.50. Not a bad gig for ten minutes. The opera is in the process of being built and will be finished in about three years with a stage that will rise from the basement to the theatre floor. The theatre is already up and running, and currently showcases theatre and musical venues, as it has been doing for several years. The garden seems not to be in good shape, with an empty pool, and unmaintained plants. I believe the whole area is being revamped and will be an impressive cultural center for Marrakech and all of Morocco.
I have been enjoying the morning breakfast routine by sitting at a table of gliders. They are very nice people, and the leader even purchased my book for his ebook reading. I wanted to mention, now that I have been in Morocco long enough to have formed an opinion about the attitude of men toward women, what I conclude. I have experienced men to treat women as though they are just slightly invisible, but still there to be seen when they want to look. Women, I have been told, cover themselves up more to a cultural phenomenon than for the Islam religion, although, that is the traditional reason. The women with the traditional robe and hidden face are demonstrating their modesty. It’s a different culture from the western world and takes a while getting used to. A western woman being too friendly may be taken a different way than just the desire to be friendly. It may look to be aggressive or as it you’re flirting. My friendly nature sometimes gets taken the wrong way, as evidenced with the man who sells tobacco from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. on the street. I have always been cautious not to present myself a bit higher in the realm of society, and to allow people their dignity no matter where they are in life. I walk past him every day sometimes two or three times. I began smiling and greeting him, and today, he made a motion for me to stop, with a suggestion. I realized that he had misread my friendly nature, so I will be avoiding the tobacco man until I leave here. The folks who work in the hotel and restaurant are gentlemen and seem to understand the western woman a bit better than the average Moroccan. However, I have observed that the maintenance people are women and the men have the desk jobs and/or waiters and bar tenders. There are exceptions to my observations throughout the city at various restaurants, and changes are slowly coming about, but in general, men rule, in my opinion.