Sunday, October 26

Steve: We took it easy today, venturing out in the morning but reserving the afternoon for relaxing and reading by the pool at our hotel. We were tired after the past few days' adventures, and needed a break.

This morning we walked through the new part of Marrakech on the way to Majorelle Gardens. The streets here are very loud and busy, and the roads are shared equally by cars, bikes, scooters, horse carriages, donkeys and men with carts. There's a very interesting mix of old and new here - it seems so strange to see an old man on a donkey in the middle of the street surrounded by Mercedes (the standard large taxi here). We took several pictures of the streets, and tried to capture scenes which show the different types of transportation.

For the first time since we started traveling in June, I've had some headaches here and I'm fairly sure it's because of the pollution in the air. There's a definite smell of exhaust everywhere, which is not surprising considering the old age of many of the automobiles on the road. This smell, combined with the constant loud noise from the traffic, makes walking in the city not very enjoyable for us. As we walked in today's 70 degree weather, we tried to picture what it would be like in the heat of the summer - not a pleasant thought.

We walked to the Majorelle Gardens, a beautiful collection of cactus, palm trees, bamboo trees, ponds and fountains. This is one of several gardens in Marrakech, and was created by Jacques Majorelle, a French painter. The garden is very beautiful, and is a great escape from the activity of the city.

We spent this afternoon at our hotel, catching up on some of our reading and writing, and also relaxing by the pool. Tonight we had a fantastic dinner at Dar Moha in the Medina. This was recommended by our travel agent as the best food in Morocco. We all had wonderful meals that included a variety of traditional Moroccan appetizers, couscous, and tejine-cooked fish and beef. David continued to impress us with his willingness to try new foods - for his appetizer, he ordered a tart filled with pigeon and finished with a sweet cinnamon glaze. He liked it!

Tomorrow we're leaving at 9:30 in a private taxi for the 2-3 hour drive to Essaouira. We continue to hear good things about this small coastal fishing town, and are looking forward to spending time there.

Distance Walked: 1.24 miles

David's Download - Barcelona's La Rambla

Every big city has a famous road such as the Champs d'Elysees in Paris and Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg. Barcelona's is La Rambla. La Rambla is actually the most famous road in all of Spain. Its street performers, human statues, bird and flower dealers, beggars, and small cafes make it attractive to both tourists and Spaniards. We have had great times exploring this street, which has created some unforgettable memories for me and my family.

La Rambla is one of my favorite things about Barcelona. This large boulevard is separated in two by a wide, tree lined pedestrian walkways filled with newsstands, shops, and performers. I enjoyed watching all the street performers, artisans, and human statues at work. It's interesting to see all the creative ways people try to make money! One of my favorite street performances consisted of two guys dressed as ninjas. They both had sticks with foam on the ends to hit each other. One was dressed in black, one in white. Each one of them had a can with a sign. "Pay black to hit white" and "Pay white to hit black." They would pose in battle positions until someone paid them. For example, one guy might lie on his back and the other would aim at his belly and then pose in that position. People were tempted to pay them so see one of the guys get hit. It would always make a loud noise and must have hurt! Another performer was dressed up as a rooster, with a rubber chicken tied around his head and cardboard wings. He crowed like a real rooster over and over again. He didn't make much money.

We heard that the street performers get their start in theater by performing on La Rambla. The street performers were accompanied by bird sellers and numerous beggars. We counted over 10 bird shops along the street. The shops had chickens, ducks, roosters, parrots, parakeets, and many other species. Some also had turtles, fish, rats, mice, ferrets, and rabbits. The pigeons were always gathered around these shops eating the bird seed that had fallen from the cages to the ground. Some even poked their beaks into the cages to get the seed, and the parakeets would go crazy! The beggars on the street were hard to look at. Many were handicapped and without arms, legs, or hands. To our surprise, some were even well dressed, although most were sick and dirty.

Seeing all these people on the streets makes me wonder how they can survive with only a few coins a day. Even the street performers with good acts only make 20 to 30 dollars a day. Do they have another job? How desperate really are they? Do they do it just for fun? How much do they get to eat? It makes me feel bad that we can't help them more than just handing them a coin.

Although La Rambla is a fun and enjoyable place to be, my family and I also found it in some ways to be very depressing. We greatly enjoyed exploring this street and are looking forward to discovering more like it around the world.












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