Thursday, April 15, 2010

Shukran شكراً ابي

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I clicked the purchase button online to buy my plane ticket from Barcelona, Spain to Marrakech, Morocco. I had no picture in my head to associate with the country of Morocco let alone be able to point out Marrakech on a map. Morocco surprised me in so many ways because of this lack of background knowledge. I knew forming some sort of prediction or expectation in my head would be stupid and naïve so I tried to be as open minded and even blank minded when it came to preconceived notions about this country of northern Africa. First impressions of a place are such a rush. We stepped off the plane to a calm heat. The air was dusty and the sky grey muggy. The ground was clean and the airport deserted. At the baggage claim I shed my two layers of sweatshirts and shoved them into my bag. Then I draped a pashmina shawl over my shoulders as to try and respect local custom of modesty. Passport control was easy as the frontier control officer chatted us up. This was the beginning of unwanted attention that we would be all too familiar with by the time we left. Hopped on a bus and sped toward the main square. Pure stimulation: dirt, dust, cars, taxicabs, busses, and men on bikes, all flying in every direction. Street signs and lights served for no purpose and lines painted on concrete are a waste of time and tax money. Stepped off the bus and stood shocked and stunned. Where are we? Where am I? After the initial shock an old comfort set in. I felt the comfort of a third world country. There is something about chaos and dirt and poverty that makes me feel at home. We spotted a businessman and attempted to ask in French for the street of our hostel. He immediately answered in English (apparently we sound very American when we attempt to speak French, this happened in France as well) and pointed us in the right direction. As we walked in the heat all my senses were bombarded. Smells of spices, coconut, sweat, urine, and things I’ve never smelt before. My eyes saw cobras, water snakes, monkeys on chains, women in covered in fabric begging to give henna tattoos to tourists, children running and selling handmade coconut cookies for one Durham each, horses that looked neglected and irritated, stands full of dried fruit and nuts, tents, tarps, drums, motorcycles, and blurred bodies everywhere walking walking walking. My ears buzzed with Spanish, English, Arabic, French, traditional flutes and mandolins, and the yelling of street vendors desperately trying to get our attention. After 20 minutes of walking in front to the left and right we finally found the correct entrance of our street. A nice young boy noticed our furrowed foreheads and led us to the front door of our new home. Day one was a RUSH. Ecstasy of energy and the freshness of being in a place you never had the talent to dream of.

Day one I was in love with Morocco.

Day one I saw myself being able to spend a large chunk of time in Morocco.

Day two and three proved these premature judgments wrong.

Day two was spent walking all around the square, developing film, wandering in the market place, eating delicious couscous meals for less than 5 dollars, getting invited into two traditional medicine shops, sharing mint tea with locals, and getting shouted at in every language under the sun.

I was enchanted by Morocco: the heat, the smells, the streets, the food, the mint tea, but the men…

The men of Morocco need to have their penises chopped off.

Or at least that is one of the thoughts constantly streaming across my mind because it was so full to the brim with anger. Moroccan men do not know respect. I traveled with two of my good girl friends and we felt as though we were three pieces of prime meat the entire time. I was stared at constantly. The kind of stare that makes you feel like you are being stripped naked in an instant; the stare that screams rape.

We were asked if we wanted dicks, if we were ready for sex. We were told we had nice asses, tits, boobs, and bodies. None of these comments were flattering. We were hissed at, kissed at, grabbed at, and stared at. I wanted to yell and scream and punch and spit and fight back so many times but knew the added attention would only make the situation so much worse. I felt trapped in this country where men stare and stare and make me so full of hatred towards the opposite sex. By day three and four all three of us travelers were so fed up with men. Yes I know all you guys who are reading this may get offended but if you were in my shoes I think you would be just as angry and feel just as violated.

Besides the problem with men, Morocco was beautiful. Our breakfasts consisted of fresh baked bread that cost 10 cents and a full glass of fresh squeezed orange juice for 40 cents. The days were spent wandering around the largest square in Africa and surrounding areas. The last day in Marrakech we went to an old Palace, which was filled with intricate tile design and woodcarvings. The skies were piercing blue and the walls white. Orange trees grew in the streets. Farrell cats roamed the roads.

Morocco was amazing. My advice to future travelers… be a man or travel with many around you.


  1. HOw, how how can any man who loves his mother, EVER treat women this way??? Where are the culture's sensors, the older wiser folks telling these guys to shut-up/ have some respect? Where are their mothers?
    I do not get it! Supposedly, their women are so revered they have to stay modestly covered up. Well that line becomes BS in light of this kind of behavior! There is no respect here, no honor, no enlightenment. They are n beasts, and this behavior only perpetuates the negative stereotypes, because I guess they are NOT stereotypes, but reality. KSJ

  2. Brea, I understand! I lived in there for 17 months. In Rabat. Morocco definately has its issues. But Paris! Some of my best memories are from paris and doing exactly what you did with Red wine and Sacre Coeur! Its a magical city and the Champs Elysees is amazing. You can imagine the experience of living in Morocco and then moving to Paris. Crazy!
    Happy Trails