You want 100 Dirham? I'll give you 25.

Trip Start Mar 23, 2012
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Trip End Apr 03, 2012


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Flag of Morocco  ,
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We arrived in Marrakesh on Wednesday, 3/28 around noon. We pulled some Moroccan Dirhams out of the ATM and caught a cab to the hostel. Unfortunately, the hostel was sort of embedded in the souks, so the cab could only drop us off close to the door. We had a real hard time trying to find the hostel since there were no street signs and everything was a labyrinth of tiny streets and alleys. Eventually, a few kids asked us where we were going and pointed us down the correct alley. Then they expected payment, so we gave them like 50 euro cents, which is 5 Dirhams. They were NOT happy—definitely wanted more money. We just sort of ran into the hostel to avoid them. First lesson learned—agree on the price beforehand.

The hostel only had one employee that spoke any English and he had stepped out for a few minutes, so we had some tea and waited for him to return. He came back and explained the hostel facilities to us, then immediately started trying to sell us a tour to the Sahara desert. We politely let him speak and largely ignored him for a while, but it ended up sounding pretty cool.

Since we already had plans to stay two nights in Marrakesh and two nights in Fez, we needed help figuring out our logistics. The man called his friend (who was ACTUALLY in charge of the tours and spoke perfect English) and he agreed to help us with the logistics if we bought the tour from him. So, he called our hostel in Fez to deal with our reservations, and took a cab with us to the train station to check the train schedule to Fez. When the train schedule was less than ideal, he took us to the bus station and helped us buy a ticket on the night bus to Fez, then took us back to the train station to book our tickets from Fez to Casablanca (to make sure we got to the airport on time).  He was a pretty helpful dude, so we were happy to buy the tour from him.

Because we decided to do the tour instead of staying in Marrakesh a second night, we only had one day to run insanely around and try to see as much as possible. We initially tried to see the sights recommended by the guidebook, but we quickly gave up because navigating was difficult and there was so much to see just walking around. The architecture was pretty unique to anything I had seen before (as you can see by the pictures), and the souks/medina/main square were pretty nuts. The best was for me to describe it would be dozens of people yelling shit at you and running around. Walking through the shops was essentially a constant bombardment of people trying to sell you things/hit on you. Because Morocco is a Muslim country, nearly all of the women had their heads covered with a scarf or were wearing a Berka, so we definitely stood out. Thankfully, there were a number of other tourists in Marrakesh, so they were more used to foreign women.

We learned how to shop really quickly by trial and error. Michelle was hungry and tried to buy some dried fruit, but she forgot to agree to the price beforehand (mistake) and also let the man convince her to take a picture of him (bigger mistake). You would think that simply taking a picture of someone who was essentially begging you to take a picture of them would not bite you in the ass, but people in Marrakesh have enough experience with tourists to know that they can con people into paying them to take a picture. The man tried to charge Michelle 10 Euros (100 Dirhams) for the fruit then 20 Euros for the picture.  He got pretty aggressive so we left the fruit and ran away. Second and third lesson learned—don't forget to follow the first lesson and agree on the price beforehand, and do NOT let anyone see you take their picture. 
 

After our shopping disaster, we headed towards the mosque and found some delicious kebabs on the way. The kebabs came with olives and bread and they were phenomenal.  We walked around the streets for a while then headed back to the central medina when it started to get dark. The medina became total madness at night—snake charmers, monkeys, tarot card readers, henna people, etc.
   I tried to take a few pictures then realized everyone expected to be paid for the pictures, so I put my camera away. Having the camera out was moderately stressful anyway.

It started to drizzle, so we popped into one of the souk shops to look at the earrings. We wanted to buy earrings for a bunch of friends/family so we were trying to get a good deal on bulk, but the guy was not willing to work with us. Then, it started to pour rain and the streets began to flood, so we helped the man move his merchandise off the street so it didn’t get ruined. After that, he was super excited about giving us good prices. He even gave us free keychains! Glad to have a new Moroccan friend.

We ran back to the hostel in the rain to make it in time for dinner. The hostel owner made tajine, which is a bunch of vegetables and chicken boiled in broth with saffron and other Moroccan spices. It was okay, but so far the olives are the best part about Moroccan food. After dinner we showered and packed for our Saharan adventure in the morning. Very excited! We ended up sleeping really well in the ridiculous hostel beds, but there was no door so there was a fair amount of noise from the common area. I had earplugs so I didn’t hear any of it, thankfully! At 7 AM, we had some tea then headed off for the Sahara. 
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Comments

Mom on

Love the colors and the shopping options for stuff you don't need. Thanks for this interesting blog.

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