Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

July 18th, 2006
Morocco: Another World

image

Women traveling alone. No big deal.
Unless you’re in Morocco.
I was living in Portugal at the time and
passed an American Express office advertising
8-day tours of Morocco for only $500.
Thank Allah.

Disclaimer: I know this post will sound like a
giant one-star Yelp review. Morocco is a fantastic,
highly recommended destination. Don’t let my
crabbiness change your plans, just think of me
as a cautionary tale so you can prepare for the
unknown. Please don’t plan a solo adventure. You’ll
end up on a camel in the desert! Tours are the
way to stay safe.

Casablanca:
One ghetto city, living off
tourist memories of long-lost movie fantasy.

Rabat:
The “call to prayer” blasts out of
loudspeakers five times a day, sunrise to sunset.
Actually, that can be pretty awesome if you are an
early riser.

Fez:
How could you not buy a fez? Word to the wise,
they don’t pack well.

Marrakesh:
On to the souks.
But first, a 6 plus hour bus ride through
nothing but flat dirt, and one coca cola stand.
It’s exotic and equal parts wonderful and depressing.
From the minute you step foot onto the dusty ground you are
surrounded by people wanting something from
you. You become a walking wallet.
Without a guide, abandon all hope, even dropping breadcrumbs
will not lead you out of the maze. At every shop, they take
one look at your clothes and jewelry, determine your
country of origin and surprisingly speak your language.
And of course, the guide will only
take you to places he gets kickbacks from.
Prices are approximately ten times higher for
Americans. You get no respect if you don’t bargain.

Want to use a public bathroom in the park?
The bus driver and guide staked out positions
to keep an eye on me as I entered the small building
with holes in the ground.

A woman threw her vegetables at me for trying
to steal her soul with my camera.
Children and the deformed will pose for money.
Stand still for a second and someone puts a monkey
on your shoulder and demands money for a photograph.
Learn to say no thank you in Arabic.
(La Shu-kran)

The poverty and begging can be overwhelming. I got
the feeling that I could empty out my purse, give out
all my money in about 5 minutes and then what?
On the plus side, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.
The blue mountain people will sing, the camels roam,
snake charmers play their instruments and you are
out of your comfort zone. No strip malls or MacDonalds here.

Go watch the film “Sheltering Sky” for a romantic take on
the desert. With eyes wide open, buy your ticket, minding
your head, heart and wallet.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: