I didn’t know what to expect from Morocco. I knew that the touts would be aggressive; the stories I had heard reminded me of India, so I mentally prepared myself on our ride from the airport. Last night was our first night in Marrakech, and within minutes of stepping out of the taxi, we were approached by someone wanting to ‘help.’ Everyone wants to help. To my surprise, one of the first people to offer help didn’t want a tip in return. He pointed us in the direction, and gave us a few tips before wishing us a good trip. Emma and I couldn’t believe it.
We followed the directions, made the appropriate turns before a young male approached us and began escorting us to our riad. I told him that I didn’t need his help, but he kept on. When we arrived at the riad, he demanded a tip. I had just pulled money from the ATM, so I only had 100 and 200 Dirhams (which is roughly 10 and 20 dollars, respectively). I was not about to tip a guy $10 for walking about an 1/8 of a mile down a road. He became so angry. He wouldn’t leave and kept yelling at me to tip him. I said I could tip him in euros, and he seemed happy about this arrangement until I handed him about 80 cents. He told me that it wasn’t enough and continued to stand there. He eventually left with a little convincing from the person working at our riad, but he declared, “you tip me later” as he was leaving. I keep expecting him to come up to me on the street and demand money, but so far this hasn’t happened.
Today, as we explored the medina, we had so many touts in our face trying to sell us stuff. They do it differently here; they block your path. Stop you dead in your tracks. Very persistent.
The people trying to sell stuff don’t really bother me. I just keep on walking and ignore them, or I repeatedly tell them no. No. No. No! NO! Eventually, they give up.
What I don’t like are the people who begin offering you a service without asking if you want it in the first place (like the guy last night). That happened again today. Emma and I were staring at our map, which was absolutely no help in the medina maze, when someone asked if we needed help. I pointed to where we were trying to go, hoping that he’d just indicate a direction. Instead he asks another guy to show us. I said no, that I didn’t want the help, but the guy kept walking with us, pointing each time we needed to turn. I said no countless times and then just stopped so that there would be distance between us.
That’s when he came back and demanded a tip. When I refused, he argued with me (in another language, mind you, so I have no idea what he was saying). His parting words, “Fuck you” right in my face.
This sort of encounter puts you on edge for future interactions. I pleaded with those who came up later in the day, “Please, we don’t need your help. We’re fine.” I was told that I needed to “chilax” and was accused of being angry by the day’s end.
As we were later walking by a small group of young boys, probably about Oliver’s age, one looked at us and said “fuck you, fuck you, fuck you” in a sing-songy voice. Offensive, yes, but I could tell he was just testing out the little English he knew. The boys laughed, and we laughed at the absurdity of being cursed at a second time in one afternoon.