Marrakech – getting lost the oriental way

I went to Marrakesh last week on a cheap Ryanair deal and I can tell it was hot! Hot and dry air, like an invisible wall stuck between the narrow streets of the Medina. Whenever I was lucky to experience a tiny breeze, it felt like a huge hairdryer blowing in your face… Are you considering going there too? I’d recommend January.

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Not only is it hot, it’s also loud and sticky (but in a good, authentical way) – small motorcycles chasing along curvy streets, overtaking donkey carts, bikes and terrified tourists. Merchants advertising leather goods, jewelry, carpets, spices and many more typical oriental things, trying to make you bargain and buy stuff. Talking about that, I don’t think you can ever win a bargain, even if you are confident. The dealers are too sneaky, the starting prize is always too high and you end up spending 8 Dollars on a 2 Dollar bracelet, or purchase self made fossils. But they make you feel as if you’ve made a sweet deal and as if you’ve basically got your new purse for free. Telling you that you bargained like a true Berber woman… Most take your money in such a cheeky, charming way, you can’t even be mad at them. There is the early bird bargain (first customer of the day), the pretty girl bargain (because of your beauty) or the “you have ruined my family” – bargain.

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So I decided to get all my shopping out of the way the very first day, and spend the rest of my time drinking orange juice / getting lost. There’d always be people who try to follow you because they want to lead you to your destination (and charge like 20 bucks in the end). In most cases a polite “no – merci” wasn’t enough to make them leave and some shouting and swearing had to be done. However, people I asked for directions who haven’t offered their “help”, always pointed out the right way so I ‘ve never had to sleep on a bench or on some rubbish bags.

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Marrakech is not only famous for its narrow souq alleys, but also for its big square Jemaa el-Fna. It’s surrounded by lovely rooftop restaurants that offer nice Moroccan food and mint tea. At around 4 pm the place starts to get lively and sellers offer freshly pressed orange juice (do not miss to try) and dried, exotic fruits and nuts. You can try the local cuisine and watch the chefs prepare couscous, tajine dishes, meat sticks and sheep heads. Some people walk around with snakes in their hands, folded together stylishly like a clutch, and want you to take pictures for a small amount. Well, the conversation went like this:

Snake guy: You can pay whatever you want.

Me: 10 Dirham (1 Dollar)?!

Snake guy: Sure, let’s talk about that after.

– Me taking pictures of a bunch a disgusting snakes – 

Snake guy: Costs 10 Dollars now!!

Me: You’ll get 10 Dirham!

Snake guy: 20 Dirham?!?

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I leave, feeling a bit bad for making a fuzz about 1 more Dollar and going straight to one of the few places (Café Arabe) where they serve alcohol (cocktails and nice Moroccan wine) for 120+ Dirham (15 Dollars). But I’m sure other tourists’ money sits loser than mine – plus a deal is a deal.

One last thing to mention:

Moroccan Mint tea sure tastes like Mojito – but unfortunately the Mojito there does taste like mint tea..

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