Short Jaunt to Morocco

I didn’t spend too much time in Morocco, because I got stuck in Barcelona for much longer than I had planned.  I arrived late at night on the last ferry from Tarifa to Tangiers and was greeted by a dead and closed port.  Because I wasn’t sure if I would arrive that night, I hadn’t booked a hostel, so finding a place to sleep that night was my first priority.  Unfortunately, that involved dodging what felt like an entire city trying to scam me.

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On my way to my hostel, I did happen to wander through a night market.  Because it was Ramadan, a lot of Berbers had traveled up to Tangiers to sell their wares, which provided a chaotic but interesting environment on my way.   I managed to haggle down the price of a goat fur jacket with a Berber while drinking tea, but other than that just tried to navigate my way through the craziness so I could sleep.

Against my better judgement, I finally accepted help from one of the many people milling about in finding the hostel.  Funnily enough, I had been right around the corner, so it was a short trip, but ended with haggling over how much I owed him for the help.  He really wanted my shirt for some reason, but I handed him a 100 dirham note, which was all I had left after paying for the room and left.

The next morning I decided to leave for Marrakech on the first train out because of my experiences in Tangiers.  Luckily I was seated with someone who spoke a decent amount of Fusha, because up until that point in Morocco, Arabic and English were failing me, and Spanish was only doing slightly better.  So between decent, if sparse, conversation and some beautiful countryside I managed to make my way to Marrakech.

Marrakech was an entirely different experience from Tangiers.  People were still interesting in trading and bartering, but weren’t actively trying to rip you off.  I was able to get by much better with Fusha and English and the hostel I was staying at was much nicer and cheaper than the one in Tangiers.

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The Suq was every bit as chaotic as in Tangiers, but the shopkeepers were a lot easier to deal with.  At one point I visited an herbalist to see what kind of spices I could bring back and got a full demonstration of their wares.  I ended buying some Argan oil (that was unfortunately later confiscated at Ben Gurion Airport) and a few spices blends.  When I got back to the hostels I realised that the Kohl that had been applied to my eyes looked ridiculous.

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Because of Ramadan, at night, the market turned into one huge party as droves of people came out to break the fast and celebrate.   I journeyed out into that a few times with a group of Germans and ended meeting some pretty cool Moroccans.  There were fireworks, cobras, horse drawn carriages, and some random boxing matches.  I wish I could’ve stayed a bit longer, but had to leave the next morning for Malta.

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