4 Days in Morocco

A collection of words about a recent trip to Morocco:

Getting there and back
There are times when you come face to face with the harsh reality of poverty and lower-class deprivation: The medina in Fes, the riots of England, and flying Ryanair. Each time I fly Ryanair, I say ‘Note to self: Never fly Ryanair again’. It is a symbol of the society we live in: a society defined by a carefully constructed class system. On a Ryanair flight, we are all lower-class trash. The staff are given license to exploit this through torment and degradation, punishment for not having the money to pay for a normal airline.

  • They plant screaming kids on each flight, at carefully designated areas, so everyone, at any given time, will have their turn at being exposed to a rabid screaming child. What many people don’t know, however, is that these are not the offspring of passengers; they are extras, like in a movie, planted by the airline. The motive is two-fold; to punish the lower classes for not being able to afford a normal airline, and to discourage the lower classes from breeding.
  • They purposely serve warm beer, and are happy about it.
  • They constantly walk down the isle trying to sell scratch cards. Scratch cards? Wtf.
  • They let off arctic-like air vents in certain sections of the plane. This is intended to shock and disorient the lower class into submission. You’ve come from 45 degree Moroccan heat, and now you’re scurrying through your single bag to find scarves and thermals to survive the flight home.
  • They conduct random stop and search checks before boarding, looking to catch those trying to smuggle any baggage that exceeds the cheapskate weight limit. This brings out the ingenuity of the lower classes: one woman proudly showed a special vest jacket she owned which had the capacity to make a mockery of the one bag/limited weight policy. She proudly revealed the depth and number of pockets, a symbol of the system being defeated.

The ‘Guide’
While in Morocco, we went on a ‘guided’ tour of the ‘Atlas Mountains’. I’ve been on many guided tours before; this was the first tour where the ‘guide’ didn’t speak a word of the guide-ees’ language. Most Moroccan guides did, he didn’t. We didn’t even go to the Atlas Mountains. This would have been tolerable had we not been paying the equivalent of an overseas flight for the experience. He wasn’t even a guide, he was a mate of the hotel owner who happened to own a car and some spare time. Going on a guided tour with someone who doesn’t speak your language, is kinda like watching a movie on mute, and trying to work out the plot from the pictures, only to learn at the end there was no plot, it was just a collection of random home videos. The first stop of our ‘guided’ tour was a small town undergoing a lot of construction work. It had piles of rocks and small cranes, and the bemused look of locals that said, ‘why the fuck are you here?’ Our look back was ‘we don’t know, but if our ‘guide’ happens to tell you, please tell us’.

Next stop was a Swiss styled ski village, minus the snow, because it was, ah… summer. The guide stopped the car, told us the name of the town, and opened the door, signaling us to get out. So we disembarked and walked, while he stayed in the car. It would have been lovely if it was winter, but in summer, it’s really just a collection of wooden stuff. At this point I started getting a bout of Tourette’s: Fuckin.. shiss, gudie, fuck, ski town summa sh fuck joke fick.

Next we stopped at a lake with 2 boys, each with a disheveled horse. We were given the ‘Out’ gesture to disembark. We wandered aimlessly searching for clues before the horse boys came to us and signalled to get on the horse. ‘Um, that things about to die, I don’t think’… ‘QUICK. ON HORSE!’ ‘Ok, ok, I’ll get on the bloody horse’. This was probably the most depressing part of the trip; I’m a hypocritical carnivore, in that I eat meat, but don’t really think any animal should have to die just so I can eat food I could happily survive without, so forcing a disheveled little horse to carry me around in 43 degree heat while a little shit belts it with a stick is not my idea of fun. I climbed off and sought forgiveness from the horse… ‘They caught me off guard, I was trapp…’, before I could finish, his eyes stopped me dead in my tracks, ‘Spare me your drivel. You disgust me’.

Medina Guides
Back in Fès, where we often made the fatal mistake of thinking someone was making conversation just to be friendly. ‘I think this kid is just being nice, we should talk to him, cute kid’. Then he comes back with a very intense man seeking clarification on which part of the medina it was that we wanted to see.
‘Where you go? Come with me’.

No, no medina. No guide.
Why? Here? There? There closed. This way please.
No. I just want to be. Be here.
Yes please. Come with me.
No medina. NO!
Ah, you say NO?! Australia friendly, why you not friendly?
Shit, I’m disgracing my country. ‘We are friendly; I just want to walk without guide. No guide’.
Yes please this way.

At this point I notice Adrienne has been ushered away by another friendly, young, sexually impoverished, Moroccan man. ‘Yes please come with me.’
What the fuck is happening. Let go. Yes please. No. Yes please. Hello. Fuck Off.

Half an hour later and we had finally broken the shackles and negotiated freedom, no touts. We turn a corner, and Aaaahhhh! A Terminator like Moroccan man-boy, ‘Yes please. This way please. You see medina? Come with me please. Yes please’. Then I got to thinking, why do these little punks think they can harass me? Fuck him, time to fight fire with fire. Unfortunately, trying to act tough seemed to make him angry and fly kick the wall. Not just your average friendly fly-kick, a proper karate fly-kick. I pictured my head being in the place of the wall and thought, ‘That’s why he thinks he can harass me. He knows how to kill me’. So I went back to being polite again.

Leather Slippers
Eventually we employed the services of a legitimate medina guide, she was good, though we did often somehow find ourselves in retail outlets. I really liked the idea of a pair of leather slippers, but from previous retail experiences, I just couldn’t bear the thought of the interrogation session that would follow. What if I tried them on and they were uncomfortable, and, Allah forbid, I didn’t want to buy them; they’d cut my fucking head off. ‘You don’t want slipper. Why you no want slipper. This is good slipper. GOOD SLIPPER. DIE YOU CHEP BUSTAD!*

*I’m not sure if that’s an accurate written depiction of an Arabic-English accent, but you get the idea.

Based on the stories above, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a forgettable experience, quite the opposite, one of the best. The vast majority of Moroccans were friendly and certainly not intimidating (stories have been embellished in the name of attempted humour). Basically, if you want to be intimidated, you will be, but you needn’t bother. Chances are you’re in more danger in London or Melbourne at night, than Fès. I’d rather a holiday in Fès than on a beach. I spent 25 summers of my life on the beach, they’re all the same, I’m sick of them. These holidays, while harder, are ultimately more rewarding. Pearl of wisdom over.

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