alley-in-the-medina

24 hours in Marrakesh (part 1)

Last weekend I finally decided to go to Marrakesh, the most touristic city in the country. Situated to the south of Casablanca, it takes nearly 3 hours to go there by car or bus.

Few days before going, I booked tickets for bus (same company as the one I used to go to Ceuta) to leave Casablanca at 1 pm and leave Marrakesh the next day at 1:30 pm. I did not realize that I said 1 pm for the first way, I screw it because I was thinking about being there at 1 pm not leaving Casa at that time..
So I started to be quite annoyed because I thought that I will not have enough time to see everything I wanted.
Anyway, I am getting closer to the D-Day, and I explain to my boss that I will be going to Marrakesh and that I may be sleeping into a "riad" from friends of friends living there but I still not have any idea if it is confirmed. He asks me their names, and it appears that he knows them and is pretty good friend with them since they will have dinner the Friday before my d-day IN CASABLANCA.

You get it: he asked them if I could go back from Casablanca to Marrakesh with them (by car, which is much comfier than the bus) on Saturday afternoon. They said yes of course, and they also confirmed the fact that I could sleep in their riad (totally free, god bless them). "Unfortunately" we left Casa around 3 pm, but since it is faster than the bus, I arrived at the same time as I would have with the bus. Plus, since I made a mistake by taking the wrong schedule for the bus ticket, it did not bother me to leave late anyway.

Therefore, I arrived in Marrakesh at 5 pm, I drop my small bag in the room they gave me for the night, they explain to me what I should do in these few hours I have (Saturday night and Sunday morning) and I immediately leave to lost myself in the "medina/souk". 
This was great because it represents a part of the Morroco's culture, but since I was more like a local than a tourist, I was not as surprised as could be the dozens of tourists I met. However, what surprised me the most is the game that plays local sellers with tourists, since we are the only revenue for them: they are always calling you, asking you to come, have a look, and are very pushy. I was quite trained already so it did not bother me and I ignored them and keep walking straight in this maze.

 

alley-in-the-medina


Yes, it is a maze, but I have a good sense of direction so I was ok until I get too far: no more tourists, still the medina, but looks like I am not very welcomed there. People are staring at me, begging me to give them huge amount of money (this is the biggest thing I hate in this expatriation in Morocco: people only see me as a white man full of cash, which is definitely false since I live with less money than 80% of the population => I take money from my savings to survive) and some are kindly giving me the direction of the main place where every tourist go after their walk in the medina. 
However, at one point a young man gave me a direction while being quite weird, and I immediately did not feel safe for some reasons: traveling alone, no tourists in the area, everybody staring at me and the atmosphere of this maze does not help. My mind turned in an "emergency" mode and I realized he gave me a fake direction which led to a small street with one of his friend (which I saw earlier with him) kind of waiting for me to come. So I turned back because I knew which direction was the good one, and started walking and ignoring the guy spamming me "Money for kindness" (yeah… kindness of what, you are trying to get something from me which does not seem very kind by giving me a false direction getting through a very dark area). But somehow, they (his damn friend still there) stuck me against the wall and start shouting "200 dirhams pour gentillesse" (which we can translate by "20€ for kindness"). Of course, I was not going to give him 1/5 of my living so I said no. He keeps yelling at me, getting more and more aggressive so I tell him "10 dirhams and we're fine ?" (1€), but he answers "I don't give a fu** of your 10 dirhams give me 200" (translated version). He keeps on shouting and at one time I was getting scared because I was in a foreign area, alone, and I did not know what he had in his pockets (could get a knife, which is not impossible, this is pretty common to steal like this in Morocco) so I gave him 100 (10€ goddamn euros…) and left. Fortunately enough it stopped there, but my first hour in the city started pretty well…

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