04 May 2009

Time Warp, Arabic Keyboards + Marrakechi Rooftops

Today we visited the Palais de Badia. Though made by the famous sultan of the Saadien Dynasty, Ahmed Al Mansour Al-Dahbi (aka the Gold King), the Badia palace was supposed to be a conscious imitation of the Alhambra Palace in Granada. And though I think it was destroyed in the 17th century, you could still see how striking it must have been four decades ago. I could almost picture it as I walked around in debilitating heat: four reflective ponds, one in each corner of the massive courtyard, the place where four shallow rectangles now are; there was a grove, infected with orange, lemon + fig trees, + a hammam guilded in beautiful tilework with such clean splendor. I could almost picture the palace as it used to be, at night, lit with streaking candles, their burning imagery, translated into haloes of water. It was a broken paradise, but there were moments.

I loved the cranes on top of the Palace’s walls. You could see a little suburbia of nests, high above the courtyard, lined on top of the roofs. Interesting how the function of the palace stays the same but the family changes from one species to another.

Afterwards, LB + I walked to the Royal Palace, but it was closed, + the security guard made me erase the one measly picture I’d taken of it. I guess I should have taken two—he only asked me to erase the last shot, after all. To take a break from the din of Marrakech’s streets, we stepped into a cybercafé run by a young girl covered from heat to toe in what looked like a well-worn cotton sheet. She was sweet + soft-spoken, but even she couldn’t help me with that damn Arabic keyboard. It was so confusing: there were multiple places for the period, the Q + the A buttons were reversed, there was a second alt button, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to write a @. Then there was the fact that when I tried to check my facebook account, the cursor kept going from right to left, even after I’d changed the setting to French, and from left to right again— God, I hate Windows. Try typing your password when you can’t even type in numbers with any certainty, it becomes a bad game really quickly. I think it took me thirty minutes just to sign in, by that time, I was exhausted I just decided to change my status, so I paid the friend of the sweet girl in the bed sheet, + then we walked back to Djemaa El Fna, ate more Seven Vegetable Couscous + some more vegetable tajine.

After that, we walked home. And this time, we finally knew exactly where we were going, which is nothing short of rad. I did mark a few of the walls with pencil, I’m not gonna lie, seeing as we live really far from the center of the Medina, and we have to walk through an insane, winding, confusing maze of unmarked streets, with little runts waiting for you at the end of every street. It’s like a really bad shoot’em video game where the bad guys are street waifs + one-eyed teenagers, and you only have so much time to make it home safely. Once we finally returned to our Riad, we had the whole place to ourselves. LB + I hung out on the terrace, ate some leftover pizza, we went onto the rooftop, watched a French gameshow on the TV downstairs in the common quarters where a woman has to fill in the missing song lyrics of popular French Love Songs while members of the audience swayed back + forth. Finally, we watched LB’s favorite movie on her iPod (“The Sweetest Thing”), and then we discovered, after changing the time zone on my computer, that we have been waking up + going to bed two hours ahead of schedule without even knowing it. Basically, we’ve been living in time warp for the entire time we were here in Marrakech. In a way, that makes so much more sense.

Tomorrow, we’re taking a train to Casa where we’ll hopefully find a good wifi connection + a good Asian restaurant.

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