The central shops of Marrakesh all pander to the tourists that pack the market streets, all seemingly selling the same items. Trinkets and bracelets all identical to the next. I wanted something different, a better story to tell. After a while exploring the streets away from tourists I found a small shop. I was met with the regular enthusiastic greeting from a boy about 14 years old. He started his well-spoken speech of what the shop had to offer. Clothes, presents pretty girls will adore, trinkets to remember my time. He was good, charisma beyond his years; clearly learning from a natural. The boy continued, putting on a show, proving himself, presenting the wonders of every item.
“You looking for a sword, young man?” the croaking voice emerged from a frail old man, breaking the boy’s flow and taking over conversation. The old man had caught my interest in the blunted and rust stained swords mounted on the wall.
“I would love to. My grandfather has a collection from his travels. But I can’t carry one for the rest of my journey. I can’t physically get it home.”
Of course, as any good seller would, he spent some time attempting to convert my decision, convince me I needed a sword for the rest of my travels through Morocco. I was polite in my refusal to purchase anything, but he had a final play up his sleeve.
“Alright, alright. These ones are not worth the trouble” throwing a rusted sword to the ground “Let me show you something else. Come with me.”
He walked into the back room. Throwing common sense aside instead enthralled by curiosity I followed. The old man struggled to move the table centred in the small room. Aged hands bracing against the table, his entire body straining against the heavy frame. Stepping in I grabbed the other side to help. With the table and accompanying chairs out the way he rolled the carpet to one side, waving his hand at me to get out the way. What he revealed was a large trapdoor cut from the wooden floor boards, its circular metal handle at the foot of the old man. With a mischievous smile aimed at me, he bent over wrapping his thin fingers around the metal. The hinges creaked as the old man lifted the floor of the room up, resting it against the wall.
He chuckled at my reaction, no need to add any words. I could do nothing but stare at the newly revealed wonders before me. Mounted beautifully in stands under the trapdoor were some of the most gorgeous swords I have ever laid eyes upon. Polished metal shining back at me. The steel of blades, sheaths of polished metal, glittering gems, and waxed leather. Ranging from small utility knives to full length swords at least a metre long. Intricately carved designs throughout all the metal spread out across the display. These were swords tourists were certainly not usually shown. They were well cared for, far more than the others left to rust at the front of the store.
The old man smiled at me “are any of these worth carrying with you?”