First Impressions of Marrakech… It’s Mental!

Marrakech is madness! I love it! However, it can also be a bit overwhelming at times… especially in the beginning. I learned and experienced more during my week or so in Marrakech than I have in any European city, and I was only just an hour and a bit away from Madrid by plane into North Africa!

In Marrakech I’m a sexy beast…

So it turns out as a female in Morocco, if you have long hair and big boobies (regardless of whether you’re covered head to toe in clothing or not) you’ll find you get a lot of attention. I tick both these boxes plus with my blue eyes and chalk white(pink sun burnt) Scottish skin, I stand out in Morocco like I have a tourist sign stamped across my head. However, despite the attention I received in Morocco as a whole, Marrakech seemed to be the worst for this. For the first time I felt the fact I was a solo female traveller.

Guys here are seriously super confident, direct, and unafraid to approach any girl! My theory is that they’ve had to develop a confidence to get girls because people here don’t really drink alcohol! Back home you can just get drunk to get over the nerves, so when people are sober they tend to make less advances. That, and in Europe I look pretty normal. I am certainly no super model in my hoodie. It is for this reason I was so taken aback by the attention I received in Marrakech in particular.

I literally had to deal with at least 20 – 30 guys per day making advances towards me. If I was in the souks or the near the square this number could be doubled. Some were very polite, and well mannered. Others were not. At first I thought I was making some obvious mistake with what I wearing (Morocco is a Muslim country and the dress code is therefore a bit more conservative than Europe). However, after checking my research was correct, speaking to other girls in my hostel, on my tour, and to a few locals, it seems most girls get it… especially the more curvaceous ones. If you’re blonde you can expect even more unwanted attention. Thankfully I’m brunette.

1970’s motorcycles are all the range

Everybody scouts about on Motorcycles here. There are parts of Marrakech you can’t enter by car or public transport, so a lot of people have motorcyles to whizz through those areas. Most people don’t wear helmets, and they drive like lunatics here, but I must admit it did look like a lot of fun to be riding one! Trying to cross the road however was not so fun at times! 🙂

Everybody wants your Dirhams!

If you’re coming to Marrakech you need to be aware of how people live here, and how they make money. For instance, if you take a picture of someone, or ask someone to take a picture of you they will ask for a tip. The same goes for if you get lost and need someone to show you the way through the souks. They’ll expect payment, and it can be a lot of hassle if you don’t pay up. In and around Djemaa El Fna (the main square) and the souks (markets) lots of people will try to pressure you into buying something, or finding some way of making you give them money. It can be annoying if you are in a particularly touristy area as you’ll get approached all the time, but for me it didn’t seem so bad as I was aware of this before I came.

If you know that you need to pay for these things, e.g. taking a picture of someone, then you can avoid this by simply not taking a picture of them, or not taking up their offer to show you to you hotel/hostel etc.

A lot of tourists and travellers I came across in Marrakech were frustrated at how everyone seems after your money there. I do understand how it feels, and actually think the locals would make more money if they laid off the hard sell a bit, however these people are just trying to make a living at the end of the day. Most people in Marrakech are poor compared to Europeans or people from Western countries. Most people here only earn around 200 Euros per month. I feel like it’s important to remember that while you’re here. For me it helped to alleviate the frustration, because I could then understand why they were so in your face to spend money.

Food is cheap and tasty!

Eating out in Marrakech is super cheap compared to Europe! You can eat out every night in the square for like 5 Euro. That gives you a 3 course meal and a drink! Don’t go to any of the touristy places surrounding the square like Cafe de France. They’re more expensive, you get less food, and the food in the stalls at the square actually tastes better in my opinion!

The local people have a great sense of humour

Moroccan people in general have a very good sense of humour, but I found the people in Marrakech especially so. The guys all have a chat up line that goes along the lines of “How many camels?”. I had a laugh with one guy who tried to get us to buy something from his stall by telling us he was Chris Brown. He then proceeded to sing Chris Brown hits as he followed us up the street! Another guy I was ignoring as he approached me in the street must have tried to talk to me in 10 different languages. Eventually he says “You speak Berber?” (Berber is the local language in the Mountains of Morocco). I nodded for a laugh. He replied “Speak some Berber then”. I knew two words – Saha (thank you) and Yarlah (hurry up) that my local Busabout tour guide had taught me while on my tour of Morocco. He laughed and then said “Ah, ok, we only harass tourists. I’ll leave you alone!” then walked off with a cheeky grin. Clearly I wasn’t Berber, but his sense of humour was universal.

The laughs I had with some of the local people are what I will remember about Marrakech the most…

 

 

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2 Responses to “First Impressions of Marrakech… It’s Mental!”

  1. Marcy says:

    I took photos and gave tips throughout Morocco without any trouble except in Marrakech. The locals were pretty hostile and demanded large amounts of money even when I was just holding a camera and didn’t take a picture. I think you are right that they would end up making more money if they were less aggressive. I was uncomfortable even walking through the rows of food stalls because poeple were very aggressively demanding that we eat at each place and didn’t welcome my walking through if I wasn’t buying something at each place. I became disciplined about not making any eye contact, but then people seemed angry about that. The large square was so cool, and I wish I could have experienced it more.

  2. Ruth says:

    Marrakech is hectic isnt it? I was scolded for taking pics of my bf at an empty alley. The guy wasnt in the frame (or along that alley where he could see me!) and he accused me of taking photos of him.

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