When we arrived at the hotel, however, they informed us only that night was available but they would help us find accomodation elsewhere for the subsequent nights we wanted to stay. Turned out okay, and the next day Jake was able to find a place just as cheap with the same atmosphere as before (simple, but cute in its own way, I think Jake posted pictures). This place is slightly better in that the main reception guy knows a bit of English and we're able to ask questions about the area.
The first two days here proved annoying, regardless of the lack of tourism. This country is so desparate on foreigners, if you're not the kind that likes constant harassment, I'd work up to Morocco as a vacation destination. I know I'll be better equipped to handle the people next time (especially if I come back with more French and/or Arabic knowledge), but it probably wasn't the best opening to this trip. Who knows, maybe it was exactly perfect to better kick my ass into gear and realize where I'm in fact at.
So, starting again, the first two days here weren't the greatest and made me feel Fez-rage all over again, I just wanted out of this stupid place. We decided to walk down this adorable Füssgangerzone and almost immediately a nice guy who spoke fairly good English began to chat us up. He happened to do it just perfectly that we initially trusted he just wanted to converse. Plus, we were in a not-so-touristy place, we needed to stop being cynical, skeptical assholes sometime, right? Not in Morocco apparently.
First, we witnessed a fight that included so many cops and so much yelling and confusion it felt like a small-scale riot. I was a little nervous, seeing that the middle east is slightly high tension at the moment, but the crowd didn't seem impressed and security is tight because the King lives here, so we moved on. Our new friend followed, or rather led, us down a few blocks to where the Medina and souqs started. He talked like a tour guide and after a few minutes, my patience was spent and I assumed the worst - he's going to ask us for fucking money soon. I'd subtly hint here and there about going a different direction, but Jake didn't pick up on it and pressed on. After being taken all over the Medina, and to the tanneries, and to some guy's rug place to be convinced to buy a rug, and probably some other places I was to terse to notice, we headed back. When we were close, we asked to leave and go off on our own and then it happened. The scheme. I had a whole angry speach ready, but Jake was on top of it and told him exactly what needed to be heard. He was a little sad and distraught and still tried arguing a bit, but we both stood firm and as politely as we could told him to fuck off. I heard in Marrakech faux guides are illegal, but I'm pretty sure it holds everywhere in Morocco and I was thankful we were in proximity to so many cops because if he pressed any more, I was going to tell him that I would talk to an officer. He backed off, but my mood was already shot. When were we going to be left alone and why do all these idiots think we're so stupid to fall for it? How many do? Sure we've overpaid cab drivers and assistant people in the beginning, but we've still never fallen for "Hashish?" But everywhere we go here it starts the same way "Oh hello, where are you from?" in either Spanish, French, or English. We respond the same way every time, "NO" and yet they continue to prattle on and on and fucking on no matter how many times we repeat the word, they try to direct us and talk to us before 10 minutes of screaming NO at them until they leave, seemingly butt-hurt too.
The second day was no better and pretty soon I was ready to hole up in our hotel room and not deal with any of it. We only went out once to eat and I was already done. Done done done. This morning I even woke up stressed, anxious, and annoyed, knowing that sometime that day, we were going to need to go out, if only for a bit of food, but also internet to book our next stay, and I dreaded talking to anyone to ask questions. Sure enough, we stop for two seconds to say to eachother "That was pretty nice, what do you feel like doing next?" and someone came up to start the same stupid conversation, "Hi where are you from?! The medina is this way! Hello. Hashish?" And this time I just took Jake's arm and began speed walking away. If "No" doesn't do it, maybe blatantly ignoring and turning heel will. He didn't follow, thankfully, probably because it was a fat guy with no teeth and a pink shirt with a huge spider on it. Didn't really look like a winner. I've also started the habit of staring angrily, steady as a rock, and not saying a word to see if they get the hint I'm extremely volitile with their kind. They haven't noticed much, but I think it's because Jake placates them too much with responses. Pretty soon I'm going to put my fingers in my ears and start singing loudly "LA LALALALLLALLALALALALLalalalalalalala" Maybe that will shut them up, or think I'm praying to Allah... Could cause the same response. As long as it's shutting-up, I'm happy.
However, the day took a turn for the better. The cafe we were hoping to Wi-Fi at wasn't open and we think they closed a few days early for Ramadan, so we decided to head back to the circle and ask if there was a wi-fi cafe we weren't seeing nearby. Everyone just pointed us to the cyber shops where you pay, so we finally did that. It was only 5DH (around 50-60 cents) for an hour, it wasn't a big deal. However, the arabic-french keyboard was a hassel so we only took care of absolute necessities before being too frustrated.
On our way to the circle however, we came through a back way where some farmers market shops were set up and we happened by some of our favorite bread. We decided on some bread, yogurt, tomatoes, bananas, and grapes in case we get stuck for Ramadan tomorrow and have some backup. After the cyber cafe, we decidedd to hit up a bakery we found the day before because they had savory pastries, pizza slices, and great croissants, danishes, and doughnuts. We also realized we were pretty hungry and everywhere we go, people eat these stuffed baguette sandwiches, so we went looking for one at a dine-in place we ate the first night here (we got a burger that night with a fried egg and fries on top that was delicious). We ordered the sandwich we thought right and instead got a platter of fillings and three big baguettes for the same price and stuffed ourselves silly. There was one waiter there, the same guy as the other night, and he is amazing at keeping everyone's orders straight (the place is always packed) and had a bit of humor with us too. Tipping here is normally 5-10% (if anything, it seems not a lot of tipping happens) so we gave him 20% when we left because we thought he was so cool and totally works his ass off! His apprecation really picked me up, as well as the guys making our food, they are always very patient with our language barrier.
We go to the bakery afterward, which I was a little anxious about because though the people helping us pick out delicious pastries were really nice, the guy we had to pay seemed extremely annoyed with our inability to read the price due to poor penmanship. This time he wasn't there though and a girl helped us who had a bit more trouble understanding what we wanted but the few numerals in Arabic we knew as well as the word "Safi" (meaning "That's all/done/finished") made her super happy and we had a lot of smiles of appreciation post translation. The guy we paid was also extremely kind and patient with us too. Another pick-me-up!
The final pick-me-up that fully readied me to take on Morocco again was an ice cream stop. We found this place the day before as well and had a lot of luck with the little Spanish we knew to order two scoops of some of the most delicious ice cream we've ever had. We had to go back! This time it was a different girl who didn't know Spanish or French, but the menu was in Roman lettering, which allowed us to read what we were looking for. Except two of the items are very hard to differentiate by speech, so there was miscommunication at first and we felt really bad that we confused her. Yet, after clearing things up, she was smiles the whole time and we all had the common understanding that we goofed but meant no harm and we didn't mind the patience needed to try to get our point across. Saying "thank you" in Arabic also helped her feel like we weren't total tools and we all laughed about it in the end. On top of the sugar rush from some delicious cherry tart gelato, I felt right as rain again.
I really do like this place, and a lot more than I expected to. But three weeks here when I wasn't ready for so much harassment is a little tiring and I'm pretty happy to be leaving this country soon. It hasn't deterred me from future visits though, and I'd love to come back with new people and more knowledge than before because I'll have the confidence to get exactly what I want and I won't be annoyed with hagglers and faux guides.
I'm holding off on my "Summary of Morocco" until after Tangier, but what I'll cover are things you can answer about your own places you've travelled (foreign or domestic!):
1. Summery of each country (or state, town, village, city, provence...)
A. Differences in culture (or your home town if domestic)
B. What I expected vs. Reality (any rumors you heard? What is the place known for, if
C. Little nuiances (from people, signs, common occurances)
D. Other outsiders/travellers/tourists
E. Overall rating (i'll probably do a 1-10 scale)
A. What feelings were invoked here? Maybe if you could sum the place in a few key
B. Specific stresses/annoyances?
C. Comforts, things you wished were back home?