Newest Review: ... you have the imperial cities of Meknes and Fez. Fez is actually my favourite city in Morocco, even more than Marrakesh. If you have 2... more
I wont go there tomorrow, or any other day
Member Name: Zoekie
Advantages: Architecture, crafts, cuisine
Disadvantages: Too many negative experiences
Morocco is one of those countries you will either love or hate. I unfortunately hated it! I have always wanted to visit Morocco, and last year had the opportunity to spend three days in Marrakech. I know three days is a short period in which to judge any country, but I felt it would give me a good taster of the country, and then I might be able to return at a later date to explore more.
The Kingdom of Morocco is located in Northern Africa, and has a population of nearly 34 million people. Its borders are Algeria to the east, Mauritania to the south, and then it also borders with the two small Spanish territories of Ceuta and Mellita. The capital is Rabat, with Casablanca the largest city.
It is of course an Islamic country, with the population mostly Arab-Berbers, speaking Arab, however most people can speak a second or third language such as Spanish, French or English.
We arrived in Marrakech very early on a friday morning, and was to spend the weekend there. The hotel was booked in advance, and was clean, easy to find, and affordable. As we were so excited to be there, we literally just dropped our bags, and left the hotel to start exploring.
I have travelled in many Arab countries before, and am extremely aware of respect for their customs, so I have made sure that I was dressed appropriately. But that did not seem to matter much in Morocco....we still got endless harassment. It was the staring at you that bothered me the most. I did not want to leave my husbands sight for a second, as I really felt very intimidated by the looks I got from some men. I think the fact that I am blonde and very fair skinned, really made it worse.
Then there was the endless hassling to buy, or give money. Again, that is something that happens in most Arab countries, but I felt it was to a completeley different degree in Morocco. In most other countries I have travelled, traders will try and sell you there wares, but if you insist and keep saying no, there comes a point where they will respect that, and leave you alone. Not so in Morocco. If you so much as look at an item, it is as if you have bought it already! There just isnt a point where they accept that you have said no, and we had traders running after us in the street still shouting out prices. I understand that people are desperate, and competition is fierce, but it makes it impossible, and extremely unpleasant to even try and do some curio shopping, and in the end it just drives you off. What really upset me the most was that some of them would openly start swearing at you if you refuse to buy!
On our firts morning there we also had a really nasty experience on the Medina, the main square. I have always dreamed of seeing snake charmers, and there was a group of young men standing there with a few snakes, a basket and musical instruments. As soon as they spotted us, we suddenly got surrounded by about 7 men, all talking and shouting at once. They grabbed my poor husband, put him down on a chair, and quickly draped 3 snakes around his neck before he had a chance to say anyhting. And then they all shouted at me "Photo, Photo!". I eventually took a photo just to keep them calm, and then of course the inevitable shout for money started! This was really a very nervous moment for us, as we realised it was still early in the morning, we were the only tourists around, and just felt completely overwhelmed. Luckily my husband kept his cool, and calmly removed the snakes form around his neck, placed them on the table, and very firmly grabbed my hand, and pushed our way out of there without giving them money.
We also quickly learned if you want to take a picture of any attraction, make sure you dont appear as if you were taking a picture of any person, as they would then quickly storm at you shouting demands for money. We witnessed how another couple was chaed down the street by a man, as he accused them of taking a picture of him, and was demanding money in avery aggressive manner.
The city itself was beautiful in a really dramatic way. There is some really unique and stunning examples of architecture, and really loved the colourful decor. You can of course find some really amazing things to buy, form leatherwork to carpets, brass and ironwork.
And of course you have Moroccan cuisine as well. I just loved having a fresh mint tea on the patio, and there was loads of wondeful little restaurants to eat.
It jsut really saddened me that instead of enjoying what we are seeing, I felt as if we constanly had to be aware of not stepping on anyone's toes, and was trying to avoid being hassled and intimidated, and it reall made the three days hell.
I am always careful to generalise, and I realise I only experienced one city in Morocco, so I guess it is not fair to rate the whole country negatively just for that. Howeve I have been to other countries where I only managed to visit one city, and it has made me want to experience more of that country, and that was the problem for me in Marrakech...it has put me off seeing anything further of Morocco. I am also aware that many other people speak highly of Morocco, but again I have to go by what my experience was. I know that I am normally a very conscientious tourist, who try and respect others and their culture, yet I felt in Morocco I did not get the respect I also deserve as a tourist.
It is sad to say, but Morocco will never see me again!
Summary: My tourist nightmare