One of the things we really love to do is go shopping in the village Souk (market) to do our weekly grocery shop. Every wednesday, the producers and merchants converge in Aourir on the small area just off the main road and stalls miraculously appear full of produce.
Some traders arrive late on the tuesday night, but it really kicks off early wednesday morning. Whilst it appears chaotic (as with most things in Morocco) there is a strict order and each stall knows its place. Stalls range from wooden tables to just areas on the floor depending on the produce being sold and how much the stall holders pay for the pitch. Most stalls have covers or umbrellas to stop the strong sunshine, so it’s actually quite cool and shaded in the souk.
One thing you can be sure of is that the produce is fresh and a bargain can be had if you get your haggling working properly. The souk is normally very crowded, noisy and very lively, but it is all in good humour (mostly) and the remote villagers use this opportunity to meet old friends and socialise too.
It can be a bit unnerving as this environment is totally alien to Europeans, but our advice is to relax and enjoy the experience – everybody is friendly and approachable. The Moroccan sense of humour is awesome, so expect to see this and there is always a smile to be had.
Produce is arranged in certain areas – this is a very common thing in Morocco where similar products tend to be grouped in the same areas – so all the vegetables are in one area, fruit in another, olives and spices another area and so on. This helps competition or maybe keeps the prices high, but going from stall to stall can be a benefit.
One of my close Moroccan friends walk up the line of stalls asking prices of various commodities and compares them to previous weeks and other vendors, buying from the best price and best quality traders – all very complex but it works for him.
We tend to use the same traders – over time we have developed relationships and our prices tend to stay the same or even become lower – I do check prices though as one thing you do learn is to just check and haggle occasionally to improve your prices. You also get offered lots of samples so you can test the quality before you buy.
Many of the traders actually speak English to us now, we in turn speak in Darija back to them – learning is a two way street here. We have really increased our vocabulary and it’s great to just learn new words and teach some back.
One thing you might like to do is go and eat in one of the food stalls situated at the top of the souk. The food is very good and cheap with bean stews and omelettes always available and fresh sardines too straight from the charcoal grills – real feast for a few dirhams.
Here are few pictures from a recent visit with Mourad from Bagus Surf and Yoga Camp who is a grand master of the souk.