2. Cruel or severe
2.1 (of climate or conditions) difficult to survive in; hostile
From the Canadian Oxford Dictionary
Here’s how I see Morocco.
My one month off the beaten track family trip—not an organized trip and no hotels—to Morocco showed me, for my part, a very violent, avaricious population. Morocco’s people have aggressive manners.
I know, I know, I know. I’m not soft. But I’ve decided not to censor myself. In this post, I’ll tell you about MY travel experience… And before continuing, in order to give a touch of optimism to the next families of travellers who will visit Morocco, I dare to hope (very strongly) that if our stay had been one week or two max, that we would have stayed in a hotel and that we would have made organized excursions, that our stay might have been more enjoyable.
Because Morocco definitely has magnificent landscapes and impressive monuments that deserve to be seen. To read on our itinerary of one month in Morocco, it’s here. In a positive way, Morocco caught the apple of my eye, but it also caught my attention negatively.
And I’m telling you all this because I would have liked to have read this kind of text while preparing my trip. It could have prepared me better for what we were going to experience during our month in Morocco with our little family.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT MOROCCO
During my month in Morocco, I did not feel that people—in general—were happy.
Everyone plays in the back of others in order to get more out of them…
I didn’t like the culture of incivility towards everything that looks like a tourist to whom they couldn’t get the extra bite off their backs.
I didn’t like the constant feeling of danger.
I didn’t like to see so many women fully veiled.
I didn’t like the constant “street harassment” that came with our tourist label marked all over us. It was hard for us to try to hide this label with the way we carried our children and our double stroller or with whom we would talk in our language. We could clearly see and hear our difference.
I didn’t like all those Moroccans who are there all day watching for tourists/people, trying to intercept us and redirect us to THEIR tourist spot, place to stay or whatever.
I didn’t like this insistence—which goes so far as to be rude outright (by being called names) in an attempt to persuade you to buy their stuff.
I didn’t like these people who call themselves “king of the street/parking/guide/owner of the place,” and who were asking us to pay for it, but who actually had no knowledge and no acquired rights on this place.
I didn’t like the way you always feel that you can get your saddlebag, car, bag and, etc. get stolen.
I didn’t like that I always had to bargain and had to “verify” prices.
I didn’t like the habit of Moroccans to respond positively to requests they know they can’t fulfill.
MORE CONCRETELY: HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SITUATIONS WE HAVE EXPERIENCED
Here are the situations we had to face that explains my point of view. It’s important to note that some of the examples listed below happened more than once in a day. And after more than 30 days of living that way, I can tell you that it goes against your values, but also it leads you to reflect on how you want to live the rest of your trip. We had to go through weird situations every day where people wanted more of our money; everything is so complicated there.
Here are some examples:
- While we were driving in Merzouga, a guy literally jumped in front of our car, beckoned us to stop and lower the window; he wanted to talk to us. We said no with our heads—we were used to this kind of little scam. He wouldn’t get out of our way, pointing something at our car as if something was wrong with it. So we rolled down the window a little bit, and he finally asked us if we were looking for a restaurant, an expedition, or a place to stay because he could “help and guide” us—but we were more than fine. We didn’t ask for anything. It’s better to scare people than to keep it simple, isn’t it?
- When we arrived at the hostel (The Source), the guy from the hostel told us that it would finally be more expensive than the price booked last March (we were in August) and that we would not have air conditioning in the Sahara Desert in August AND with children. We had to insist on sticking to the price on our bill and getting the services included. He finally agreed ONLY because we had children … my ass. He was still trying to get more cash from us.
- While visiting the small village of Ait Ben Haddou—the castle in Game of Thrones—a guy left his house as we were entering the village and asked us a fee of passage of 20 dirhams per adult. But since we had read on the internet that it was free, we turned back to find another entrance. As you can see, there was still a “king of the place” who was trying to get money from us.
- Once there was a girl, then a guy, then another guy who tried to improvise themselves our guides to take us to one of their tanneries in the Medina of Fez—and, of course, to try to get paid for “leading” us to the place they mentioned.
- At the pizzeria once, we asked for a soda—and its price. The waiter told us it was 15 dirhams. When the time came to pay for our meal, the soda was 25 dirhams … how do you say to someone you won’t take it when you already drank it?
- There was also the guy from the parking lot in Taghazout who thought he was the king of parking. He had harassed us during our whole week there, waiting for us to pay him because he was “looking out” for the parking lot. He even knocked on our car door to get paid. But the caretaker of our building told us that we shouldn’t give money to the guy who was a thief; the parking was free. Between you and me, the dude doesn’t pay for the maintenance of the parking, nor does he have insurances if something happens to its clients’ cars. You can’t say it’s your parking lot if you can’t compensate for your clients. You can’t say it’s your job. You’re just a crook who takes advantage of the naivety of uninformed tourists. And we were afraid that we would find our car with a flat tire or have to argue with him every time we went out with the kids.
- When we had to go to the hospital with Ely, who had injured her arm, the woman at the reception told me that it would be 600 dirhams for the medical evaluations, which we could only pay cash. By the time I came back with the money, 250 dirhams magically appeared on our final hospital bill. But at this point, it was at the end of our stay in Morocco, and I was just too tired to insist on getting my money back.
- We were walking around one evening looking for a restaurant. A guy handed us his restaurant menu that offered several tagine and couscous. He told us that everything on the menu was offered as a table d’ hôte for 60 dirhams, which was fine with us. So we decided to eat there. We sit, order our drinks and meals as we are all very hungry. But the item we wanted wasn’t available, so we chose another one … which was still not available. Of the 4 or 5 tagines on the menu, only one was served. In my language, we call it a scam, but what can you do once you’re sitting with your drinks and your kids are hungry?
- Once, my children wanted popsicles. We asked the merchant how much it was for two popsicles. He told me 10 dirhams. I asked once again if it was for both popsicles. He clearly confirmed to me that it was. So I took the two pops and gave them to my kids while the man’s friend was babbling something in Arabic. By the time I’ve reached for my wallet, he told me it was 10 dirhams per pop. It was too late now; my kids were already eating their pops!! Once again, I’ve been tricked and had to pay twice the price.
- There was also the guy in Ouarzazate who really “watched” for us all day until we left our apartment at the end of the day. He then blocked the road with his huge black car, asked us to lower our car windows—we only left a crack—and then asked us if we were looking for something. But we were more than fine. I have to mention that once again, we were staying with locals and living in the “real neighbourhood.” So we didn’t go unnoticed with our rental car and our double stroller. The guy really spotted us and watched all day until we came outdoors, then intercepted us and improvised himself tourist guide for a few dirhams in exchange. So we were scared for the rest of the trip because he knew where we lived and when we were there—or not.
MY PREFERENCES AND VALUES
I come from a society where being the best version of yourself and performance is valued, while in Morocco, it seems like laziness is the normality. It’s as simple as that.
I really enjoy discovering the culinary scene and tasting the local meals when I travel. Morocco was quite a deception for me. There were a few exceptions, but I was still hungry for more.
I feel like Moroccans don’t take care of their public places and monuments. There’s trash everywhere, and nothing is well maintained.
Their driving habits are also dangerous.
I feel like we try to sell you the idea that Morocco is modern, but my experiences—going to the hospital, living with locals for 5 weeks, seeing their waste management—give me the idea that it’s rather a developing country. It explains pretty well what we went through during our trip. And I feel the need to share all this with you because we need to prepare our trips differently when travelling to those foreign countries.
After discussing with our local hosts, my negative feelings about this country were confirmed. They think that spanking children is OK, that women don’t have the same rights, that it’s normal that several women have to cover themselves completely when getting out of their houses as if they were nobody … but they think that a couple holding hands in public is unacceptable.
A country full of contradictions and non-sense.
BUYING IS VOTING…TRAVELLING TOO
It makes me question about what I want, who I am, why I travel.
Because seeing all this is disturbing. I’m not comfortable seeing the practices of a society like that as a tourist, as an armchair quarterback. I don’t like spending my money in countries like that.
Because I think that buying is voting, and the same goes for travelling.
What I’ve witnessed in Morocco goes against my values, but it was already too late for me when I realized that.
My trip around the world has just begun. Maybe my perception of Morocco will change; maybe my reflection will get deeper with time. It’s the reason why we travel after all: understanding the world we live in and other cultures.
Our trip was exhausting, aggravating and disturbing. Sadly, it was mentally draining.
If you’re curious to see our full itinerary and our activities during our trip to Morocco, here’s my blog post. Now that I have shared with you my personal experience don’t hesitate to share yours in comments. Whether it’s negative or positive, it can help guide travellers who want to visit Morocco. Don’t hesitate if you have any questions! You know where to find me!
This post was translated from French to English by:
My name is Aimy and I am a second year-student in translation studies. I discover my truths through my passion for literature, arts and culture. I have a keen eye for beauty, a lust for life. For me, every day is a chance to acquire knowledge and create. As Einstein once said, “creativity is intelligence having fun.”