Before even flying to Morocco, I’ve heard and read about the crazy bustling streets of Marrakech and the heart of it all: Jemaa el-Fnaa and the souks. Coming from The Philippines I thought I would be phased by none of it. So, I booked a Riad 5 minutes away from it all. In hindsight, I’d say London ways have “watered down” my experiences in a similar environment growing up. Hence, I was overwhelmed being exposed to it again.
Having written about some of the misconceptions previously, there are, of course, some things that were noticeably different to the European countries I’ve so far visited: starting from the airport.
- Going through security is much less straightforward: our passports got checked at every turn, at some points only a few steps from another ‘checkpoint’ and by the time you got there, they barely glanced at it.
- Staff members were so casual we started to question whether the queue we were on was still going to be served or that perhaps they’re on their break.
Once we got through that though, we headed out to arrivals to find our driver and was on our way to get the second year of my mum’s ‘birthday tradition’ started.
The ride from the airport was very much enjoyable until we hit a road block for an event Red Bull had on which meant we had no way of getting through to our Riad. This had us going around in circles 5 times as there were no alternative ways given. At one point, we parked up somewhere and waited it out LOL
By the time we eventually made it to the Riad, our patience were running thin already and walking into a souk at that point probably made it more intense.
We got to the Riad with no internet connection because the whole network on the street was down and the company won’t be open to fix it until maybe the next day and roughly just about checked in due to language barrier BUT we were there finally.
We freshened up and headed out to find a place to withdraw some money (Morocco has a closed currency so we couldn’t convert to MAD prior). Of course, since we were in the middle of the souk, it was inevitable that we had everyone asking us to just take a look. We fell for one and went in. The guy seemed very nice, afterall. However, things took a turn towards borderline weird when he offered us directions to a cash point when we admitted we were definitely just passing by for now as we didn’t have money on us yet.
The giving directions bit was normal: nice, actually. But when we were on one of the turns he described and had been looking lost, he shouts out “this way!”. He had been following us all along.
At that point, I was already a bit suspicious but we had no other way of finding this cash machine so we allowed him to direct us ( it was only just 2 more minutes away).
We find it and say thank you but they (his boss followed wiht him) waited until we finished withdrawing.
He had us follow him to supposedly show us Jemaa el-Fnaa as we’d mentioned we’d like to visit there first. Due to the whole nature of it all, we decided we were gonna go a different way and had tried to break off of them. However, within the first couple steps, they noticed what we were doing and swore the square was the opposite direction taking us back to where we came from. The guy took us to at least six different shops, even lying about the square being behind the shops at which point when we got close enough to our Riad, we decided on going back in and forgetting about the square until later on instead.
So, in summary, I disliked the first few moments so much that I contemplated staying in during our time in Marrakesh.
But, realistically, I wasn’t really going to do that. So, after my little break down, we tried again..
Find out the next series of events on the post to follow.