Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Sights of Souk

Every Tuesday is Souk day in our town. The American equivalent of souk would probably be a farmer's market. But I'm not sure you'd be able to find a farmer's market quite like this.

Like most souks in Morocco, our souk is located on the edge of town, in a large walled off area, featuring grand arched entryways on three sides.

Jon wrote a very detailed account of what a typical souk day was like for him back in April, 2009. However, it's very difficult to describe the experience that is souk without visuals. So, I will now take you on a walking tour of our souk.

After you enter the archway you see tents lined up with people selling everything from used and new clothes, to housewares, to food. The vendors cluster around each other to sell similar items. All the produce is one area, while the used clothing is in another, which is next to the new clothing and across from the housewares, etc. It's actually very organized, though it might not seem like it at first.

These days I go to souk alone and very early, while most vendors are still setting out their wares and pitching their tents. This came about because I began to dislike going at 11 or 12 o'clock, when the sun is very hot and the souk is very crowded. For many people, souk is a time for socializing. It's almost the equivalent to a mall outing for American teenagers; it's a place to be seen. It's almost comical to see souk through the filter of my American eyes. I see girls dressed in their best (and wearing high heels) to wade their way through mud, trash, and excrement; but they look good doing it.

I, on the other hand, go to souk for different reasons. I mainly go there to buy produce for the entire week. Though there are a couple of places to buy produce throughout the week, the quality is usually sub-par. I like to go to souk early (about 8am) to beat the crowds, the heat, and to have the best selection of fruits and veggies.

Week after week I patronize the same vendors. They know me and I trust them to give me fair prices. Below is my "nut guy." He is my first stop every week and is the person I buy peanuts, almonds, raisins, and garlic from. He always gives me exactly three complementary dates which I eat while he fills my order. Below are pictures of him and his stall.

After getting my supply of nuts I go to my favorite veggie guy. His stall is big and he has a really great variety of veggies and some fruits, as you can see from the photos below. He has a deaf helper who is very insistent on putting my purchases in plastic bags, though I tell him over and over that I brought my own cloth bags and don't need their plastic ones. They were both very excited to see the pictures I was taking of the veggies...I think they thought I was very odd.

And as always, the noble donkeys know where to find the tastiest morsels from souk.

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