A long time ago I went to Morocco. We flew to Marrakech which I’d heard was the place to visit in Morocco and anyway there were direct flights from Madrid for thirty dollars. (In hindsight something about that just doesn’t seem right.)
Marrakech: a city of lights and smoke, narrow alleys made of cobbled stone, white-washed arches, dirtied gold, sweet mint tea, tiles, geometric shapes, rooftop patios and sunken shops with low ceilings.
Me: Twenty-three, unemployed, spending the last of my money that I made teaching English in Spain for the last year, starting to lose my mind from living out of a backpack for three months, traveling with a Spanish guy I was dating at the time, who I was mostly mean to. I spoke Spanish. I did not speak Arabic.
We got to Marrakech and then we out to the desert and back, halfway up Tubkal and back. I don’t know what we were doing out there and now we were running around Marrakech on our last day spending our last dirhams and looking for shit we could buy that we could fit in our mini backpack carry-on limit. We had split up I guess because I was on my own looking at bags. There was this strange yellow leather purse and I asked the shop keeper how much and I think he said one hundred dirham which was like, ten US dollars. Anyway, I didn’t want the purse. I said thanks and started walking away. (This conversation is paraphrased for clarity:)
Shopkeeper: But it’s yours for eighty!
Me: No I’m not trying to be like that.
Shopkeeper: I’ll go down to sixty–it’s a nice purse.
Me: No thanks.
Shopkeeper: Forty! Fine I’ll do forty.
Me: No, like, I just don’t want it. I decided I don’t want it.
Shopkeeper: WILL YOU JUST TAKE THIS PURSE
Me: OMG WHY
Shopkeeper: TWENTY DIRHAMS. GET IT OUT OF MY SIGHT.
I laughed. He smiled. I still have the bag but I never use it. I have ceased to be a bag person over the last decade. Nor do I haggle. Except for that one time in that warm and low light alley in Marrakech. I’ve never been good at it. To be good at it you have to be prepared always to walk away with nothing.