Sizing Me Up

I was reading about Marrakech this morning before breakfast and came across the following post on LonelyPlanet.com.  It pretty accurately describes what I have already experienced.

At one time Morocco used to be absolutely terrible with faux guides and touts that wouldn’t let go until you were at the  screaming point.

And then the results of a quite famous tourism survey in the early 1980s were shared at high government levels. When asked ‘would you return to Morocco?’ a massive 97% of respondents said no, quoting problems with touts, unofficial guides, scams and the like in Marrakech, Fez and Agadir.

The government–looking to increase tourist revenues–took this very seriously and this is what prompted the formation of the Brigade Touriste (Tourist Police) and the regulations to prevent the faux guides. Nevertheless this doesn’t prevent the situation that Moroccans have a sixth sense for greenness, and some greedy shopkeepers/hoteliers/restaurant owners/taxi drivers won’t miss an opportunity to squeeze ridiculous amounts of money out of inexperienced people. Whether or not they try it on depends on how they size you up.

Yesterday I was approached several times by the street touts.  They are on every street and are of all ages, but mostly they are less than 20.  It goes without saying they are all male.  They are often seen kicking a soccer ball around to pass the idle time.  It is a different atmosphere than the “Hey Mister” and “Excuse me” opening sales banter on the streets of Luxor.  There is more intimidation here.  Few people speak or read english but everyone speaks arabic and french.  

Last night on my walk back to the hotel after dinner – it was past 11 PM – I was approached by a man in his 20’s that started yacking in my face in french.  I thought he was asking if I was lost but was unsure – I do not speak any french.  (Are you lost?  May I help you find something?   Great opening lines to all tourists here because navigating the place is worse than a fucking corn maze in Iowa on a moonless night without a flashlight).  I replied “english” and kept walking.  He continued to talk to me, getting up in my face.  I again said “english, I only speak english, no french”.  I waved him off as I briskly walked away saying “No french.”  He raised his voice, saying something in french and then started waving his arms back at me, as I had done to him.   I then heard him say “Fuck You” with a french accent.  I said “Fuck You” back to him as he walked away.

Today, as I wander the streets, I will be more assertive, confident and direct as the locals “size me up”.  

I want to find the tannery section of the medina, but it is Friday and many shops will probably be closed.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/06/africa_marrakesh0s_tanneries/html/1.stm

My Room. Nice.

Inside the walls of old Marrahech.  Nice.  

No TV. Nice. 

Birds chirping in the central courtyard, just outside my window.Nice.

The host, a woman asked if I had GPS on my phone. Nice, I can get lost again, wandering narrow, crooked alleys.
Time to find a beer and some music. Nice

Riad Dar Tusci

From their website:

Situated in one of the most ancients quarters of the Medina, that still maintain the fascination and the authenticity of the Moroccan culture, it is an optimal point of departure in order to discover the lively city of Marrakech. The furnishing and the architecture of the Riad are in typical Moroccan style, carpets Berbers, zellij, tadellakt…., terrace with pergola and deckchairs for the relax or suntan and a salon with fireplace, where the hosts coming from all over the world can meet and know each other. The five rooms are different the one from the other for style and colors, offer charm and very good confort: air conditioning, heating, safe box, and private bathroom.

For the well-being of its hosts, Dar Tuscia has its own Hammam, after which a relaxant massage will regenerate your body and your mind. The cook is at your disposition for typical plates with fresh food, taken to the souk of quarter, his tagine is a very appreciated. In the salon TVsat and HiFi are at your disposition. Internet access point is available and free, moreover the Riad is covered by a WiFi connection. At your arrival a tea will be offered to you and from that moment the staff of Dar Tuscia will do everything to satisfy your needs or desires. 

The five rooms have private bathroom and indipendent air conditioning/heating. Supplied of safe deposit box and equipped of linen, towels and soap. Hair dryer is supplied upon request.

+212524381396

91, Dior Jdad Zaouia El Abbassia, Bab Doukala – Marrakech –

Finally

Figured out how to easily make good posts with the software.  Use the app, not the web interface.  Get a SIM card for each country with plenty of data, and use the iPhone, not the hotel wifi.

Granted, Morocco is much more developed than Egypt, but I have learned a lot in a month about my electronics.

242 km or 150 miles.

Fodor’s Says:


Marrakesh is Morocco’s most intoxicating city. Ever since Morocco’s “Jewel of the South” became a trading and resting place on the ancient caravan routes from Timbuktu, the city has barely paused for breath.

Lying low and dominating the Haouz Plain at the foot of the snowcapped High Atlas Mountains (a marvelous sight on a sunny day), the city was stubbornly defended against marauding tribes by successive sultans. They maintained their powerful dynasties and surveyed their fertile lands from the Menara Garden’s tranquil olive groves and lagoon, and the Agdal Gardens’ vast orchards. Today, exploring the city has never been easier. A crackdown on hustlers who hassle and an undercover Tourist Police mean that you’re freer than ever before to wander and wonder.
The medina is Marrakesh’s miracle—a happy clash of old and new, in turn beguiling and confusing. Virtually unchanged since the Middle Ages, Marrakesh’s solid, salmon-pink ramparts encircle and protect its mysterious labyrinthine medina, hiding palaces, mansions, and bazaars. 

Pedestrians struggle to find their balance on the tiny cobbled lanes among an endless run of mopeds, donkey carts, and wheelbarrows selling a mixture of sticky sweets and saucepans. 

But pick up your jaw, take your time, and take it all in, stewing in the Rose City like a mint leaf in a pewter teapot.

I say:  Here I come.

abackpackandadaysack 

On Walkabout

The Urban dictionary says:

walkabout

Background: Australian. Given to us by Crocodile Dundee: 

A spontaneous journey through the wilderness of one’s choosing in an effort to satisfy one’s itchy feet, a need to be elsewhere, the craving for the open road, that space over the horizon…yes… something like that… you can’t quite touch it so you have to go find it because it’s you just know it’s there…Or maybe it just feels good to go walking around … 😉 Yeah. It’s WALKABOUT.