Promise–Not Another Rug!

by Donna on November 16, 2011

Moroccan entrance

Moroccan entrance

I promised I wouldn’t buy another rug. Promised everyone who knows me and my expensive-habit weakness. Rugs were not even on my mind for several days. After Rabat, our little group explored Meknes, considered the Versailles of Morocco with its spectacular royal palaces,

Royal Granaries

Royal Granaries

the huge Royal Granaries with walls thick enough to withstand even the devastating 1755 earthquake and rooms big enough to feed all of Meknes for 20 years.

Meknes Medina

Meknes Medina

The Meknes Medina is reasonable, smaller and easier to navigate than the overwhelming maze of Fes or Marrakesh.

At Ruins of Volubilis

At Ruins of Volubilis

I certainly wasn’t thinking of rugs while we tromped over the ruins of Roman Volubilis. The site of Rome’s most southwestern push into North Africa, the remaining mosaics are stunning.

Roman Mosaics

Roman Mosaics

Volubilis’ urban planning could be the envy of many modern cities. Given the fierce sun, I thought it was too bad none of the ceilings had survived the centuries. I expect the baths were very popular.

Fez Medina

Fez Medina


It was in Fez my resolve started to weaken. The Fez el-Bali, the ancient medina, is reputed to have about 1,000 derbs or dead-end alleys, each with its own little hole-in-the-wall shop. In the 9th honeycomb of alleyways barely wide enough for people, I dodged donkeys and heavily laden carts by clinging to the walls and in some cases pushed into a little stall, a sight that generally had the shopkeepers laughing.

Shopkeeper's Stall

Shopkeeper's Stall

Our little group had Jamal to guide us through the maze. Otherwise I would have engaged one of the many offers for a “guide”, just to keep the touts at bay. The close quarters, the heat, the press of bodies and animals, made our guided tour seem endless. A quick stop to look into the Kairaouine Mosque was a bit of a break, but after several hours I started longing for some space and a little Western air-conditioning.

Moroccan Mosque

Moroccan Mosque

Just when we were all about to collapse, our Jamal, who always seemed impervious to the heat, led us into the rug and carpet shop. Best one in Fez, of course. Certainly one very used to tour groups. The building was spacious, as necessary to properly display Morocco’s most famous souvenirs, the mint tea refreshing, and the sales display entertaining. After enough rug shops in enough countries, I know what I like, an I swore to myself nothing they were going to show me would matter. Besides, I have accumulated more than enough rugs to fill my house. So I sat with my hands clenched at my sides while beauty after beauty was rolled out. Didn’t dare even touch anything. My blood pressure was rising from the strain of restraint, but I remained in control.

Until….a member of our group, little Lana, whose small stature and pleasant demeanor belied the years of dealing with untold numbers of shopkeepers, came out from a side room followed by the salesman carrying a very large, and beautiful, rug. They had been bargaining hard, but Lana insisted she couldn’t possibly take it as it was too large for her new apartment. She wanted something smaller. He couldn’t believe she wouldn’t take it. Sales were slow with our group, so the price kept dropping. Realizing the sale to Lana really was lost, he halved his price. I knew it was hopeless. The rug was beautiful—I’d seen it earlier. It would go perfectly in my living room. I tried to fight the impulses, but my legs carried me over to the rug, my feet felt the soft cashmere wool, my eyes registered all the intricate designs. All that remained was to dig out the credit card. Some promises were meant to be broken.

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