Me and my boyfriend recently went to Marrakech, in Morocco. There is a full blog post on our experience here.
This blog post is dedicated to two specific experiences that were completely and utterly terrifying and exhilarating.
1. The Taxi Man
Since we were in an all-inclusive club, we could only go in to the centre of Marrakech at certain times through the hotel bus. The day that we prepared everything to go, our second day in the country, we realised all the buses were full. We asked about how cheap the taxi’s were, and being very reasonably priced, we decided to take a taxi instead. Nobody warned us about what this would entail.
We walked out of the grounds of the hotel where there was a ‘taxi-rank’, a dirt track at the side of a dirt-track road where 30 year old cars sat. We walked over to the group of drivers and asked them if we could go to the centre of Marrakech. After speaking for a long three minutes in Arabic, one of them put us in his car. One of his friends shouted something to him so he told us to get out the car. We were taken over to another car which we sat in. One of the other drivers shouted something to our driver and we had to get out of the car again. Finally, we ended up in one guys car who’s French was awful (and English is not one of Moroccan people’s languages). Our driver shouted over to the leader of the group to tell him something in Arabic. The leader told us that he would have to pick his daughter up and take her to school on the way.
We agreed. Why? Don’t ask, I have no clue.
After driving along the road for 5 minutes with nothing but desert next to it, we took a left down this dirt-track. This was when it started to get scary. On the left, there were tiny shacks of houses which had no roof and no windows and were extremely badly kept. There were people just sitting in cheap, plastic chairs washing laundry or eating fruit and staring in to the desert. On the right, there were sheeps, horses, dogs, cats all eating the dessert and small, skinny children playing with tubes and rubbish on the desert.
We were driving for around 5 minutes down this road. At this point, I was genuinely terrified. My head was spinning with so many different thoughts. If we are in a dangerous situation, we literally have no escape. It’s 40 degrees outside, so I can’t run if I need to. What if I get trafficked? That happens here, doesn’t it?! Oh god, his daughter, or whoever he’s picking up, could have a gun. No-one will hear the gun because we’re IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. What if he’s a murderer? I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die…
Yes, I’m a drama queen.
Eventually, we picked up his daughter. She was lovely. They made small chat with us and they pointed to where they lived and where attractions were, and what the mountains were called and everything. And we dropped his daughter off at her school and she sweetly said au-revoir, bonne journée, and left.
After another 10 minutes of driving with the lovely man, he dropped us off and practically begged us to use his taxi every day and to let him take us everywhere.
I’m not gonna lie, it was completely terrifying and one of the stupidest decisions I’ve ever made. But in the end, it worked out, and, I suppose, we got to see a part of Marrakech not many tourists have seen…
2. Tourist Tricker
After finding Place Jamaa El-Fna, the main square in Marrakech, and exploring the Souks a little bit, a man started talking to us. He was a kind man and was interested in where we’re from and why we were together because we have different nationalities. Eventually, he told us about a neighbourhood called the Tanneries that was really nice to see and that we could take lots of pictures there. Randomly (or most likely, not so randomly), his friend came along and he told us his friend would show us the way.
His friend acted casually and told us ‘je suis pas un guide’ and started to take us to the Tanneries. He was also really interested in why we were there.
At this point, I still knew absolutely nothing about the country or the people in the country. The taxi ride had, although it had a good ending, terrified me and I still didn’t know if I trusted the people. Whilst Alex and the ‘non-guide’ talked, I was walking along, grasping Alex’s hand as we exited the tourist area and were surrounded by natives of the country.
It felt like everyone was looking at us, and the buildings were getting smaller and becoming more and more roofless. Bricks and crap were laid out all over the tight and winding roads, children were playing barefoot, and the stench of horse and donkey poo filled the air.
We walked for what felt like fifteen minutes with this man. He kept telling us he was already going in this direction and to not think of him as a guide, despite him telling us the history of the different neighbourhoods.
My heart was pounding more and more as the minutes passed without seeing any tourists, and as the buildings became less and less structured. At one point, he tried to take us down this alleyway with a tough-looking man standing at the front. As Alex turned to me, I grasped my tighten on his hand and said ‘there’s no way you’re getting me down that alleyway. We’re turning back now.’
We didn’t go down the alleyway, however, we didn’t turn back either, Alex not wanting to be rude. Eventually, we ended up in this little leather shop, which, at first, I was reluctant to step inside incase they trapped us, but I eventually realised they just wanted to make money from us, not kidnap us.
Yes, I’m a drama queen.
In the end, like the last experience, we were completely fine. The man inside the shop thanked our ‘non-guide’ as he went off to catch some more unaware tourists and he talked to us for ten minutes about the quality of the items and what animal they were each from and offered us local tea (which happens in a lot of the shops).
On the walk back, we passed so many white, obvious tourist couples with these Arabian men looking as confused and a little scared, just as we were five minutes before. We had to laugh at them and at ourselves.
It’s funny how the two stupidest decisions we made during our trip to Marrakesh resulted in the most memorable experiences and I’m so happy I experienced them.
If you’d like to read more about my trip, read here.