The main square of the old city of Marrakech (Jemaa el Fna) , Morocco is a pretty hectic place. Men, women and children approach you with their hands full of anything from cell phones to toys to cookies asking you to buy. They are quite persistent and will follow you around. Yesterday night in Marrakech two young children, a boy and a girl, came up too us trying to sell cookies. They would jump in front of us forcing us to stop and go around them and their cookies only to have them dash in front of us again. After dinner a teenage boy followed us trying to sell toys. My mom scared him away!
Today in the square I got a henna tattoo. It shows flowers and has my name written in Arabic. The thing is, we did not mean to buy the henna tattoos. A Muslim lady who introduced herself as Miriam approached us and asked if we would like henna. We told her that we might come back later. But Miriam would not take no for an answer. She said she would show us and that we could come back some other time. She grabbed my hand and began to squirt henna paste on my hand. The design is very beautiful and I love how my name looks in Arabic. Miriam then grabbed Ollie’s hand and drew flowers all over it. Poor Oliver. He had bright orange flowers all over his hand.
We politely said thank you and proceeded to walk away. Miriam stopped us and demanded 100 dirhams. “My normal price is 200 but I like your daughter so 100.” She addressed my dad. He handed her ten dirhams which is equivalent to one euro. “No, it is only one dollar!” she cried. “Yes, because we did not ask you to do it.” Dad countered. A longish heated argument followed. We tried to walk away but she followed us around saying that she needed money to feed her children. She continued to demand money until my dad finally gave her 50 dirhams. She asked for more but Dad told her that he would only give her that much. I know that if you think about it 50 dirhams is only about five euros but in Marrakech a dish of chicken and couscous costs 35 dirhams which is about $3.50.