Moroccan people, and our slow path to openness

When we arrived in Morocco (only a few days ago), we were less than comfortable with the Moroccan people. They were wandering about the roadside, seemingly wanting to flag us down and rob us at the first opportunity. We’ve since had quite a few encounters with Moroccans. It’s not like Europe, where you can almost spend your entire life without talking to anyone. Here you need to talk to people to (a) get the stuff you want and (b) get them to go away and stop trying to sell their stuff or beg/barter for your stuff. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Arabic, French or Berber, if someone wants your shoes, he’ll find a way to tell you, and most people manage a few words of English.

We’re getting there now. We have heard nothing about robberies, which appear fairly commonplace in Spain and Portugal. The people we deal with are tenacious (they don’t give up with a simple ‘no’, and obviously expert hagglers, but aren’t usually out to rip you off (unless you don’t haggle, in which case it’s seen as your fault – which it is I guess, as you’re in their country and should follow their culture).

An example: I walked into the dunes with Charlie yesterday. Bear in mind the place is dead, hardly any tourists about. I pass a guy lying by his motorbike who wants to ‘show me his work’ (i.e. flog me some ash trays or some such made from polished marble which is supposed to have real fossils embedded in it). I told him I’d look when I came back. I made a wide detour and avoided him on the way back. I could see him sitting by his bike and felt bad I’d lied to him, but hey, I didn;t want the stuff he had. Today on my way back from walking the dunes, he was stood between the dunes and the hotel; there was no avoiding him and he recognised me from yesterday. Instead I walked straight up to him and in my best French introduced myself, explained I knew what stuff he had and that it was very beautiful (which it is to be fair). I then explained we were travelling for months and while he stuff would look good in my house (which it would), it wasn’t good in a small motorhome. He looked at me and started to try his sales patter again, at which point I laughed and hugged him. What a guy. He’d probably spent 2 days trying to earn a few Dirhams just from me. He laughed too and knew the game was up. He tried to ask if I had any clothes to swap (they’re after trousers, shoes, t shirts and the like). We were already running light on gear before we set off, and had already offloaded our excess stuff at the last campsite so he was out of luck. He wished me a good day and good travels. What could have been an awkward encounter turned into a fun one. That’s what travelling is about for me, and I just love the feeling.

It’s hard to get photos of Moroccan people as you don’t want to offend people. If you pay them, it makes them always want paying. We could just ask them of course, but we’re not quite there yet. We’re getting there though, slowly. Jay

1 Comment

  1. Good stuff Mr B. Glad my story of slightly negative experiences in Casablanca back in 1995 has not put you off. Keep up the good work of international ambassador for England!

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