January 11, 2010
Carpets and Sales Pitches in Morocco
Part of spending the day in Tangier, Morocco meant going to a carpet dealer and listening to fifteen minutes of really educational information on the history and world of carpets, then spending another thirty minutes not making eye contact with several dozen men drafting behind and beside you within the showroom.
The history of carpet making is actually really interesting. Learning that spices such as saffron are still used to get that warm color dye for carpets. I enjoyed how they rolled out several different carpets to illustrate the difference in how the number of threads per square inch affects color and heft. On a side note, I was a little distracted by our educator's pointy yellow mules. Couldn't tell if they were leather but he pulled the look off so much that I came really close to buying a pair.
If you go, don't worry about the hard sell. Inside the showroom they do seem to take your lead, and if you don't want to buy then they will quickly move off to someone else who either is showing interest or at least is waffling on the fence. It is the guys outside in the narrow streets and alleys that you have to be firm and direct with if you have no interest in buying anything. They are all about getting that one tourist or visitor before you make it to the neutral zone, which is just before the gangplank of the ship returning you to Spain.
We didn't buy anything on this trip but I really did enjoy listening to the pitch and the information in general. Once inside the showroom I felt relaxed enough to close my eyes at one point and imagine what this experience would have been like without the walls and more than a hundred years ago. I also had a quick second of joy by replacing our salesmen with that actor who is in the Mummy movies, Brandon something?
If you get a chance to go to one of these cities or showrooms, go. It is worth the unique experience, and once you know the rules it takes a lot of the stress off of you. Imagine you are back during the times of Aladdin or Lawrence of Arabia if that helps. Trust me, it is the same everywhere. I have had similar experiences in Bali, Bangkok and even San Francisco.