Sunday, April 26, 2015

About that Moroccan Artisans Festival

This weekend we caught wind of a Moroccan Artisans Festival taking place down in Old Town Alexandria.  After naps today we loaded up the whole crew and headed down there.  This is where I shamefully tell you that after 9 years of living in this area I have never been to Old Town.  It's pretty much all Beltway between here and there, so you can forget it during the week.  Unless you want to sit in standstill traffic.  Anyhow, I would liken Old Town to Charleston, SC with slightly different architecture.  So, you know, amazing.

After a cold and dreary week, today was finally sunny and warm-ish.  We walked up to the square where the festival was held.  They were playing a little fast and loose with the term "festival".  It was a few white tents with some Moroccan-ish looking shiny fabric splashed behind.  Supposedly there was food, music and dancing during some portion of the weekend; when we were there it was one lady applying henna to hands.

As far as the goods being sold, Joe likened it to a Marjane going out of business sale. Just packaged up and shipped over.  Mary and I liked one blanket, and this is when we discovered that the customer service was oh-so-the-same as in Morocco.  As in, not their strength.  Queue the flash back...One time in the Rabat Medina, I stopped in at my shoe guy's place looking for a specific pair of shoes.  Here I should also note that in Morocco there is a guy for everything.  We had a shoe guy, a custom framing guy, a pouf guy, a rug guy (in Marrakech), a scarf guy, a leather guy, a car repair guy, a flower guy, and my favorite, our fruit guy.  Back to shoe guy.  I can't remember the specifics, but let's say I was asking for a pair of brown shoes in a size 6.  He looked and looked and couldn't find any.  He asked his fellow shopkeepers up and down the street to no avail, and he finally showed me a black pair; the only color he had in a 6.  I politely declined, thanked him, and said A bientot! (I will see you soon).  Well, that did not sit well.  He was upset that I wouldn't just take the black shoe even though I wanted the BROWN one.  I hadn't even given a hint that I might consider that black one. And really, I can't say that I left there shocked by the events that took place.  The customer is NOT always right in Morocco.

But back to the "festival".  Mary and I tried to engage the linen guy to ask questions about his blanket, price, etc.  And he wouldn't even respond.  Just kind of gave us the side-eye.  Probably we wouldn't have wanted to pay the American mark-up price for it anyhow, but still, he didn't know that.

The place was flooded with Moroccans, though, and we loved hearing them talk and watching them interact with one another.  That felt like home.

After the 7.5 minute walk through the festival, we headed down the street to the waterfront.  We walked along the docks on the Potomac and ended up in a beautiful, wide open park for the kids to run around.

G, Carolyn, and William turned the sand volleyball court into a sandbox along with some other children, while Joshua tested his boundaries with the river.  Joshua, in an outdoor space near water or a road, without a fence, is always a high stress situation for us.  Oh, there is so much to be said for a playground with a good fence!!!

Joshua finally settled down on the bank overlooking the water.  He seemed very introspective as he gazed out.  Probably thinking one of two things: Either he is coming up with a simple solution as how to solve all the world's problems OR how to sneak some dirt into his mouth while Mom isn't looking.  Who can know?

This one had a GREAT time running and playing with Daddy while Mommy took a turn with Joshua.  She LOVES to be outside, just like Joshua.  Also, she's just about 18 months now.  Sheesh.

We had another great dinner out to end the adventure.  This time involved electronics because everyone was exhausted and it was a sit down.  Still, the Mommies and Daddies got to have a beer and eat a good meal, so that's a win.

See y'all Wednesday!

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