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honeymoon - day 3, 4 & 5: marrakech

sept 28th:
we arrived in marrakech at last at about 2am! it was apparent that the airport had remained open for our flight alone. we fumbled through customs and then found our way to baggage claim. there was a line of men w/ signs for different riads patiently waiting their hotel guests. at first we didn't find anyone for us but finally reclining half asleep, we found our driver. (i do not blame him. our flight was 5 hours delayed AND they were as uniformed as we had been in spain. he had been waiting at the airport for those 5 hours.)

a brief introduction and then we loaded the car and were off. zipping through the winding streets of the city. through the medina. through the royal palace. down country roads not lit by the comfort of street lights. and finally into a little village w/ rough gravel road beneath us. disoriented by the hour or maybe a bit of culture shock (my first time overseas and all), i must admit i began to question whether planning a honeymoon based on a blog wade had stumbled upon was the best idea after all. and maybe just maybe the thought crossed my mind at least once that i was about to be sold into sex trade.

but then ... we pulled up to a gated fence. followed by a candlelit driveway. peacock pavilions ... our destination at last.

we spent the first half of our moroccan vacation at peacock pavilions - a boutique hotel on an olive grove just outside of marrakech. wade discovered the private riad while exploring honeymoon options. he happened upon owner maryam's blog my marrakesh ... and i am so glad he did. we were spoiled by the staff who cooked, cleaned, drove and prepared activities for us each day.
we are so thank you to maryam & her husband chris (and the kiddos), todd, katie and medora for your hospitality and friendship.

our room:

and one must not forget the bathroom:

{source: my marrakesh}

we woke to the echo of the call to prayer across the horizon. our room was breathtaking - and attention was paid to every detail: a bottle of champagne, fresh olives, dates and nuts, soft towels & robes and the sweetest smelling soaps and shampoos. we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of warm olive muffins, fruit w/ yogurt, fresh squeezed orange juice and mint tea poolside. exhausted from the extensive travel, we spent the morning snoozing and wandering the olive grove. then we chose to eat lunch with the family while we planned the week's activities. in the late afternoon, we were grateful to have todd & katherine, who were interning at peacock pavilions, along for a mini shopping trip & dinner in the medina.

the heart of marrakech's shopping experience is found at jemaa el fna. it is a giant square filled with circus-like performers: story tellers, snake charmers, and monkey handlers. behind the square lies the souk ... miles and miles of twisting walkways (think indiana jones) filled with shops offering everything you can imagine: leather goods, clothing, spices & meats, brass and ironwork, antiques, moroccan carpets and much more. it is total sensory overload!

{source 1 // sonsoles avalos, source 3 // gerard lorriaux, source 5 // sebastien herniote via trekearth

we wandered through the souks for several hours and when we emerged, the jemaa el fna had transitioned into hundreds of little food stalls with the smell of spices and steam rising. we had a delicious dinner of lentil soup, couscous and chicken & lamb for about $6.00 total ... neither of us was daring enough to try the sheep's brains. :)

 {source 3 // webshots}

the only couple pictures of us in marrakech that survived the trip. wah wah:

{source 2 // todd oberndorfer}

sept 29th:

our second day at peacock pavilions was a day of pampering! we shared another delicious breakfast. this time with the family. chocolate muffins! tristan - maryam and chris' little boy had 4. i wish i had been brave enough to have 4 myself! a woman came to the atlas pavilion and gave me a manicure and pedicure while wade swam and read.

{source 2/3: decor8}

afterwards we traveled into town for a day at les bains de marrakech - a beautiful 600 year old spa - for a hammam bath and massage! this was wade's first massage and both of our first experience with hammam. first we were directed into a little marble steam room (a hammam) where we "baked" while 2 stocky women applied different soaps and oils to us all the while chit-chatting in arabic except when they asked us to "flip". they were incredibly cautious scrubbing wade - barely going above his knees. but with me ... they snapped my swimsuit bottoms in between my cheeks and went to town! in between treatments, they doused with buckets of water, and finally they used rough gloves for exfoliation. (i was so embarrassed with how much more i needed the exfoliation than wade ... ha!). afterwards we were directed upstairs for a much more relaxing massage.

when we were finished at the spa, we went back to peacock pavilions for lunch and then a village woman met me poolside for a bridal henna session! she didn't speak any english so i stumbled through bits of conversation w/ her and then finally decided to just sit back and watch her work. such a beautiful tradition.

in the evening, todd had planned a meal under the most beautiful tent. the walls of the tent were stenciled delicately w/ traditional moroccan design. the ground covered with berber rugs. the table adorned with rose petals. todd had carefully planned every detail. we were served too much red wine, a fresh spring salads, and traditional moroccan meal of lamb, dates and almonds cooked to perfection all day in a tajine. the 2 young cooks also surprised us w/ a gigantic chocolate wedding cake with "best wishes" in raspberry sauce.

sept 30th:

again we woke to fresh breakfast on the patio. then wade and i decided to spend the morning on the terrace above our room reading and soaking in the sites and sounds. there was a little village next door and you could hear children playing and the occasional donkey in a far off field. 5x a day the call to prayer echoed from several different minarets across the horizon (including one just down the street).

feeling adventurous we decided to make a trip into the medina to do a little souvenir shopping on our own. i purchased a pair of leather shoes & wade and i haggled over an old wooden diploma {i'll add pictures soon!}. we had learned some basic arabic to help us including "la shukran" ... no thank you. ha! i found myself saying this a lot as everyone is very helpful (for a tip!) we were also caught off guard by the funny american phrases people would holler at us to get our attention: "fish & chips" from a shoe salesman, "shakira" from another, and my favorite - when i attempted my arabic on a shopkeeper, he laughed and said "woah woah woah. don't speak arabic to me. we chilaxin."

everybody wanted a chance to try their english and to relate to the foreigners. one particular man hollered "boston" as we passed, which peaked wade's attention (he had lived there for the year of our engagement). before we knew it we were in his tent and he was attempting to heal us. you'll be happy to know that wade has a good stomach and prostate, we are very fertile and "i am not a garage". ha! finally our healing ended and the shop owner billed us - 400 dirham for wade and 200 for me. yikes. lesson learned - nothing is free in the souks. we talked him down to 400 dirham in the end (about $50 buckaroos). lesson learned! and we had a priceless memory.

we also bought a beautiful wedding blanket - which had at one time been handmade by a Berber bride as part of her dowry! it's absolutely beautiful - though it smells like it has been shared by a couple of goats for the last 50 years. it very likely might have been! {i'll add a picture of it too!}

we returned back to peacock pavilions just in time for dinner with the family. the traditional friday night meal is couscous cooked all day w/ vegetables and lamb. {friday is the muslim holy day.} thankfully the family bumped the meal up a day so we could share it with them. it was delicious.
as a final hoorah - our hosts had planned an outdoor screening of casablanca under the stars & the olive trees complete w/ moroccan beer!  we invited todd, now a close friend, to join us. the boys both snoozed and i tried my hardest to soak up the perfect moment. 


the adventure isn't over yet! one more entry as we spent the last few days of our moroccan honeymoon in essaouira, the windy city of morocco, off the atlantic coast.


Catherine said...

That sounds amazing! Peacock Pavilions is beautiful and it looks like you had a wonderful time. I am anxious to visit Morocco and stay there. I recently learned of an 8 day painting retreat being held at Peacock Pavilions next March 11-18, 2012 by a blog reader of mine Margaret Owen and Elizabeth Hutchingson, graduates of the NY Academy of Art. As an artist and world traveler I really want to go, check it out! Perhaps you'd be interested in returning!

(Artist's website: http://dailypainting.typepad.com/blog/)

I enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing and all the best to you and your husband!


blair @ a case of the mundays said...

hi catherine - your blog is fantastic! thank you so much for sharing + stopping by! :) oh wow ... i would die to go on that retreat + visit peacock pavilions again. if you have the opportunity, it's a magnificent experience. right now w+i are saving to buy a little farm ... but we will definitely return!!!

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