May 23rd, 2014 by Cherié
The Shoe in the Souk
Boom! Boom! Boom! I can feel the ground beneath me vibrate in a fast paced rhythmic tune as the drummers bang on their drums in the Medina square in Marrakesh. The drums feel louder and louder as I walk closer through the crowds, weaving in and out I see a crowd gathering around the drummers, clapping along with the rhythm. Over in the corner of my eye, I see snake charmers luring snakes out of baskets with their haunting melancholy music, and monkeys frolicking about jumping on unsuspecting tourist begging for few Dirhams for their owners. In the midst of all the chaos, you have horses pounding the pavements with their carriages, carrying tourists- kids sitting in the carriages fulfilling their fairy tale fantasy “Look Mom!! Monkeys!” They would shout and point to the small brown monkey wearing diapers, and they would giggle as they zoomed past.
Stalls are on every corner, boasting everything you could possibly imagine. Carpets hang on the walls, each one more colorful than the next- red with white stripes, a white one with woven blue patterns, or a red, orange, and pink striped rugs. In the next stall would be spices and herbs in their baskets, a burst of colors ranging from dark brown, yellow, red, you would find turmeric, paprika, etc. Hundreds of stalls line up in the little alleyways deep in the heart of the Medina- a never ending maze of hidden gems. There must have been a hundred of stalls with slippers lined up in rows, hanging from the ceiling to the floor. Each of the slippers are handmade, some are pointy, and some are round tipped slippers made from leather. Each slipper are unique, handmade, and soft with a touch of that leathery smell, with a hint of spice from the dye. Beaded slippers, hand carved, painted, or simply dyed- there is an endless supply. I caught my eye on this perfect slipper, a beautiful mint slipper with a light marbleized beads hand stitched into a delicate flower. I asked the owner of the shop, a man in his 30’s, short with the typical Moroccan garb “Do you have this in 40?” referring to the size conversion. After looking around in his little shop- he sunk his head and shrugged “La…” he told me, meaning no in Arabic. Every now and then in my travels I come across a travel souvenir that I know I cannot leave the country without, a saree that I bought in India, or that wool scarf in Iceland. This was the souvenir I knew I needed to get, it was perfect and not to mention extremely comfortable. I had to get it.
My friend, the taxi driver who I became friends with came along with me on the mission to find the perfect slipper in the Medina and wanted to help me to get a bargain. Shop after shop, he would pick up a dark green slipper and show me “is this it?” every time I would say no. Starting to feel sorry for the poor guy who had offered to help me, he was stuck with me looking for a very specific slipper. A mint slipper in the maze of the Medina is like finding a needle in a haystack. I was about to give up hope on ever finding this slipper, we walked further and further into the Medina, walking down every little alleyway in the souk until I saw this one shop tucked away in a corner of a dark alleyway. I made my way down, and peered in- sure enough the slipper was perched on the wall- pointing to the shoe, asking this kind older man, with his grey hair peering through his cap. “Size 40?” He smiled and nodded his head motioning, yes. The beading was the same on the slipper, it had the light mint tone to the leather- as soon as I put it on, it fit like a glove. The perfect memento of Marrakesh- laced with this slipper is the memory of walking through the souks searching; in that time I’ve become friends with the driver, with the shop owners. Because of the search of one little shoe I searched each nook and cranny the market had to offer. Allowing me to see the less touristy spots, and more into the local territory. Sometimes a memento can be a simple thing, yet it can hold so much sentimental value to it. A simple thing like a shoe, but hey- if the shoe fits, wear it.