expected of Morocco. While I have never seen the film Casablanca but
I think it somehow prepared me for something more elegant. I had
forgotten or never even considered that Morocco was a third world
country (which means…what?) but, however you look at it, the overall
impact of the cities is squalid. (Although I have yet to see
Marrakesh). Street fittings, footpaths, gutters, lampposts and signs,
are broken. Things are hot, dusty and dirty. Work is not finished,
there is a lack of attention to detail. There is rubbish on the
streets. Cars are old and battered. Most taxis are Mercedes from the
1990s and earlier. Windows are broken and grubby. Our guide book
says other cities in Morocco are better. But, on the plus side, it
has lots of activity and a multitude of smells and sights to intrigue
you. And if everything, everyplace, was the same, why travel? It's
just that I had a more sanitized image in my mind before we came here.
Once you adapt to the reality around you, comparing it to nothing but
itself, it is much easier to wander the streets and accept it as a
quite different place.
Much of the countryside is stunning but often quite hot. But it is
August. They have snow fields in winter.
The food in tourist restaurants tends to be a bit 'samey' – soup,
tajines (casseroles), skewers, Moroccan salad and fruit platters.
The people are more varied than in some of our recent travels. In
Spain, except for the pickpockets, beggars and roving accordion
players, the population largely ignored you, flowed around you. In
Morocco there are more reactions and the range of reactions seem more
extreme. People look at you. This can be a bit disconcerting at
times. The men in the coffee shops watch you. And it is mostly men.
Women, dressed in all the extremes of outfits from skimpy to total
cover, tend to look away if you catch them watching you. Men will
hold their gaze. Women in the country towns are more likely to catch
your eye and smile. The various street vendors are a nuisance and will
chase you to get you into their shop and once there pester you to make
an offer. We had the luxury of a geologist in our group and he
pointed out all the fake fossils and geodes.
Overall I am glad we came, but I would not recommend it for a relaxing
holiday, more a cultural exploration. Morocco is an experience that
you must partake in, not a spot to come to and just relax.
And then there is the shopping, if rugs, metalwork and pottery are
your thing. But be ready to barter.