Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Lynn Friedman

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.

Casablanca. One ghetto city, living off
tourists memories of long lost movie fantasy.
Rabat had the call to prayer blasting out of
loud speakers for all to hear.
Fez had video rental stores and how could
you not buy a fez. Word to the wise,
they don’t pack well.

On to the souks of Marakesh.
But first a 6 plus hour bus ride through
nothing but desert. And one coca cola stand.
It’s exotic, it’s both 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 you would be lost in the
maze of pathways. At every shop they take
one look at your clothes and jewelry and
know where you’re from and speak your language
back at you. And of course the guide will only
take you to places he gets kick backs from.
Prices are approximately ten times higher for
Americans. Remember that when bargaining.
You get no respect if you don’t bargain with the
shop keepers.

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 bathroom
with holes in the ground for toilets.

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 so you can
have your picture taken.
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. Exotic and then some.

Go watch the film Sheltering Sky to get an idea of
emotional isolation. Buy your ticket and
mind your head and heart.

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