Sunday, May 24, 2009
Again, I woke up late, missed another chance to run on the beach, and missed breakfast. Oh well! At 1pm, we drove back into Rabat to visit the Medina shopping area once again. On the way, we passed the party castle, which is just as stunning in daylight as at night. We stopped by TGI Friday in Rabat for lunch, where our new friends, restaurant managers Noura and Richard, once again enthusiastically greeted us. Life in Morocco runs at a very different pace. Every meal lasted 2 hours or more, rather than the standard cursory 20-30 minutes in the USA. TGI Friday was no different. We sat, talked, waited, talked, waited, talked, and were at the breaking point when food finally arrived!
After lunch, we hit the Medina. I bought a few more trinkets, for friends and family, but for myself as well, and had a great time walking around with the group. I am not an experienced haggler, and felt a bit ambivalent about the prospect of talking down a price that already seemed absurdly low, but apparently, negotiation is not only expected, it’s cultural, so I partook. Some fellow Americans, who now live in Morocco, suggested that I negotiate the initial price down by 2/3, but I felt too guilty of being an “ugly American” to do that. For the most part, I was pleased when I achieved a 30-40% discount.
We returned to the hotel, and went to dinner…another 2 hour experience…and then headed into the cigar lounge. Even I, the anti-smoker, sat in the room with everyone for a little while. Smoking is permitted virtually everywhere in Morocco, so I had to acclimate myself to continual sniffles and irritated eyes while there. In the resort, however, the filtration system was adequate so that I didn’t feel inundated to an intolerable degree by cigarette and cigar smoke. Once I’d had enough of being exposed to the smoke, I headed to my room, packed and slept for about 5 hours.