It was in the spring of 1991 when  a young Moroccan man tried to buy my Closest Companion.

We had arrived in Casablanca, then we drove to Marrakech, which we loved enough to hang around for a whole week. Then we’d drive to Tangiers, then back to Casablanca to catch a plane home.

The biggest attraction in the Medina, or old city, in Marrakech was the Jemaa el Fna, or Place of the Dead. It was a huge open-air square at the outer edge of the covered souks, or shops.

Wow! What a place! There were guys who pulled teeth, who wrote letters, who sold water, shoes, clothing, souvenirs, you name it. It was noisy, colorful and scary. There were guys with monkeys and guys with snakes, making their animals available to pose with you for photos. My Closest Companion posed with monkeys. I posed with snakes hanging around my neck. (When we later examined the pictures, we realized some of the snakes draped around me were pit vipers and extremely poisonous. Yikes!)

There were shops all around the square and, when it started to rain a bit, we headed there. One shop was a fragrance shop, chock full of interesting aromas and colorful stones that looked like geodes.

The shopkeeper was demonstrating on my Closest Companion and blue color from a geode, which made temporary facial designs of the type worn as tattoos by Berber women. The blue designs under her red hair had a striking effect.

It was then that a young man approached me and, through our guide/interpreter, politely offered to buy my Closest Companion for 100 camels.

I was, you might say, taken aback. I chuckled and said, no, thank you.

The man was not put off. He upped the ante, offering me 200 camels for her.

No, I said, she is not for sale.

The young man got serious with his bidding.

Three hundred camels.

I got serious with my refusals.


“I will give you 400 camels for her,” he said finally.

“Look,” I replied. “There are not enough camels in the world.”

He gave up then, thank goodness.

All these years later, even after I calculated that those 400 camels might have been worth as much as $1 million, I still occasionally remind my Closest Companion that there are not enough camels in the world.