When I woke up the next morning, it was a my birthday, and I couldn’t believe it! Waking up in Marrakech felt way too good to be real, almost surreal. The weather was spectacular, and my first stop was at the Jardin Majorelle which was the garden that Yves St. Laurent’s ashes were spread. Although the designer loved and lived in Paris, he and his partner had a home in Marrakech and probably loved it even more there, which may be why St. Laurent’s ashes were spread there. Starting out the morning with a walk in the sunshine in a stunning garden set a happy tone for the day, but I was more eager to go back to Jemaa el-Fnaa from the night before.
After a rooftop lunch overlooking the main square, it was time to check out all the monkeys, the snake charmers, story tellers, and whatever else there was to see. Of course, shopping was on the agenda. Whenever I’m in the markets while traveling, I find the hand-made wares intoxicating. It is VERY difficult NOT to buy something too big to ship back. Just like I did in Istanbul, there I was negotiating a large purchase. I don’t know how or why, but I resisted the ivory-made chest. I guess the ivory part bothered me. Yes, I couldn’t stand the thought even though the guy told me the ivory was not from poached elephants. After much shopping all I ended up with was a pillowcase. I thought it would look nice sitting next to my pillowcase that I brought from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
After posing with a monkey and having a damn snake wrapped around my neck (I hate snakes!), it was late afternoon. My Moroccan friends suggested that we go back to Rabat that night instead of the next day. I was sad at this thought and didn’t agree, but I obliged. My friends were so, so generous to me, and I could in no way disagree with them. We continued toward our next stop. It was a place I dreamed about when I was researching Morocco awhile back: the Royal Mansour. The hotel is owned by the King of Morocco so you can imagine the opulence. Surrounded by some soothing fountains in the rich hotel lobby, we sat and had Moroccan tea served with some cookies and chocolates while looking up at the open roof’s blue sky and the palm trees. I was ecstatic and was beaming inside, but the fact that we were leaving in a short while made me beyond sad. I wished so desperately to stay another night in Marrakech, and I was reminded of my only day in Florence and how sad I was, regretting my short journey. I actually wanted to cry, really. But then again, I want to cry at every single place I have to say good bye to. To prolong my Marrakech delight for just a few more minutes I made an excuse to use the bathroom. I “got lost” and took pictures of the property, and because no one was around except for the staff, I felt like I had the entire palace all to myself. After rushing through, as my friends were waiting, it was time to go. My heart sank a little, but I had to look on the bright side of things. I had one more day in Morocco the next day. As I admired my henna tattoo from the back seat of the car, I looked up to see many road signs. I kept snapping away, each time Kacem slowing down so I could get a good shot but without success. Finally, I asked him to turn around to take a picture of the sign which you will see below. By this point I was really, really sad because I knew, as with each place I visit, that Marrakech would be the only and last time that I would be there since I have way too many places on my bucket list. It was good that I wasn’t the one driving for I wouldn’t have left.
My utter sadness must have been felt in the car ride back to Rabat in the dark since Safia said we were stopping by a bakery to buy my birthday cake. Yes, I almost forgot that it was my birthday because I was just so happy to be in Marrakech. So we picked out a chocolate cake and came back to have dinner with her family. They sang happy birthday and I made a wish as I blew out the candle. You can guess what I wished for (hint: travel). That night I felt so much gratitude for my circumstances. I really didn’t know what I did to deserve all the showering of kindness and good fortune. I honestly didn’t care about my birthday wish coming true at that point. What I have experienced in the days leading up to my birthday were just simply dreams that were too good to be true.