When we left Tarifa we planned to be in Morocco for about three or four days. We are fairly useless at sticking to our plans, so twelve days later we ferried back to Europe, fully satisfied with our many authentic Moroccan experiences. We started in Tangier, trained down south to Marrakesh, stayed on the coast in Essaouira, and then chilled in a blue town called Chefchaouen. Below are some of my most memorable Moroccan Moments…Hash Cookies
It wouldn’t be an authentic Moroccan experience without being regularly hassled by locals to buy their shit; everything from clothing to lamps to camel rides to hash cookies. We were chilling on the beach in Essaouira after having spent the morning fending off men selling us ‘happy cake’ by telling them we were already happy, we didn’t like cake, and we weren’t into drugs. We were sick of making up excuses when a semi-dodgy looking man approached us with a tray of baked goods. We decided we may as well ask for the price. After bartering him from one hash cookie for 50 Durham down to two cookies for 10 Durham, he gave us the small cookies in a plastic bag and waited for payment. Moments later, a policeman on a quad bike parked up beside us and started patting down and questioning the cookie seller before we gave him our money. I buried the cookie bag in sand as two more policemen on horses trotted over to us and eventually took the man back to the police station as he had been accused of stealing a tourists phone while he was offering them cookies. Back at the hostel later, we thought the seller didn’t seem too dodgy so we may as well eat the cookies. They tasted like dirt and didn’t get us high, but at least they were free! Later in the evening the other Kiwis in the hostel provided us with homemade hash cookies. I couldn’t tell you if they got us high or not, but I can say we thought the rooftop terrace was a boat that night.
Bumpy Ride on the Humps Another time at the beach we were approached by two men, who seemed to be in competition, offering us either a camel ride or a horse ride. Horse man was wearing a vest with 11 pockets and was super friendly. Camel man was a skinhead who had eyes redder than the devils dick, and called me Kiki. Naturally we decided that we should never trust a man with so many pockets on one item of clothing, so decided to go for a camel ride along the beach as the sun was setting. Some people choose to go for a three-day camel trek in the Sahara, but we opted for the 30-minute ride, which proved to be a wise idea as the act of riding was fairly uncomfortable on the legs. Also, if we turned our back to the ocean it kind of felt like we were in the desert so it was a win-win.Our two friends were taking photos of our camel ride when suddenly two locals appeared and offered one a ride on a horse and the other a ride on the quad bike. Next thing we know, they’ve been invited to the boys village for Ramadan breakfast. Once they’d accepted the offer and trotted off into the darkness, Ash and I started to try and think of a dodgier situation; two young girls going into the darkness in Morocco with no cell phone reception for “breakfast” with two men, a quadbike and a horse. It’s fair to say we were relieved when they returned to our hostel with full stomachs and smiles.
Shaka brahAfter spending the morning surfing with Ash, Tom (from Tarifa), Laura, Emma and a few others, we enjoyed a feed at the café by the beach. Two guys walked past as I was munching my burger and one of them said I was making him hungry. I kept eating and then walked past the guys again, oblivious as I licked my icecream. They asked me jokingly to stop teasing them so I offered them some of the icecream. They then reminded me that it was Ramadan so they literally couldn’t eat… I felt low key guilty but then proceeded to eat and spin yarns with them. They were back home from abroad for the month of Ramadan and one of them was starting up a surf school at the beach we were at. His name was Tarik, he was good chat, and gave me his number as my bus was leaving. We planned to meet with the boys that night but got a little too baked and accidentally left them waiting outside our hostel, so instead we met them the following morning.
We had a cracker of a day with the GCs cruising in their jeep, surfing, chilling on the beach with hashish and camels, and feasting at sunset for Ramadan breakfast. My kind of day; sun, surf, smoking, food, boys, and banter!
When it was dark the boys suggested going for a drive. Ash and I basically engaged in every behaviour mum had advised us against when she sent us off on our travels. We got in the car with two guys bigger than us that had been strangers the day before, we drove to the darkness somewhere in Morocco with no cellphone coverage, and we shmoked illegal substances.
Ash was peaking out, but I fully trusted the guys and in reality it was a skuxx as night where we all joed out to Moroccan music under the clear night sky, and got dropped back to the hostel with no problems. All’s well that ends well as they say.
Watering Hole Bants
One evening we were chilling at the local watering hole in Chefchouan where the locals come to wet their bodies during the heat of the Ramadan days, and fill up their water bottles for when the sun has set and they can drink again. Ash and I kept finding ourselves in ideal situations where boys would invite us for breakfast. One time we arrived to catch the ferry and the staff were on their break eating breakfast, so invited us to join the feast, then gave us their leftovers for the 35-minute ferry trip.
Another time, Tom, Ash, and I trained to Marrakesh and shared a carriage with three Moroccans. As the sun went down one of the guys split his one date into six and shared it with us. This started a chain reaction of total generosity as the young girl and older man, all who had been fasting since sunrise, split all of their food and drink up and shared it with us. We didn’t have the heart to tell them we’d been eating all day, but it was the sweetest introduction to the gentle nature of the Moroccans.
This particular time at the watering hole in Chefchoauan, three dashing Moroccan lads holla’d at us to join them for breakfast. They had like seven different types of drinks, heaps of snacks, and three different devices for smoking hash – it was a worthwhile offer to accept. The night was hilarious as we conversed in a random mix of broken English, Arabic, and Spanish. We ended up getting given all their leftover food and drink too, which was mean for the munchies. It was probably good we didn’t stay in Morocco for too much longer or we would’ve made far too many dirty gains.
Shopping in Morocco is not as simple as a trip to the Warehouse in NZ. As a blatant tourist, people are constantly approaching you on the streets trying to get you to buy their products. The souk is also a huge market we went to in Marrakesh which is filled with hundreds of people trying to sell clothes, food, spices, art, jewellery, mirrors, blankets, and everything in between. It was clear they had all pretty much sourced from the same place, but we still bought some stuff – after all this was their livelihood. Common phrases they yell out as part of their marketing method include: “pretty girl”, “where you from?” “I give you good price”, “how many camels”, “hey spice girls” “you look like Shakira”, “come have quick look in my shop” “special price for Ramadan”. Once they manage to lure you in to their store, they try as hard as they can to sell you anything they can. To be fair though, everyone we dealt with was polite when we declined their offers except for one man who yelled “bloody tourists” at us.
In terms of purchasing an item, if you don’t barter with the seller you will definitely get ripped off. Luckily I’m a diva, and like Beyonce says, a diva is a female version of a hustler, so I sussed some mean Maori mean bargains. My best hustle was a cheap pair or earrings which started at 450 Durham ($80NZD) and went down to $10NZD. The guy at our hostel was saying the law might be changing so that sellers must have a fixed price at the souks, because may tourists find the bartering culture too intimidating and uncomfortable. Personally, I think it’s absolutely crack up when they don’t settle on your price so you walk way and they come chasing after you; it’s like a game.
Muslim women dress with real modesty. All women wear clothing that covers their knees and shoulders, with some choosing to cover their entire bodies aside from their eyes. I was advised that as a tourist in Morocco I should make an effort to cover my knees and shoulders. On the train from Tangier to Marrakesh I felt like I’d nailed the whole ‘respectful tourist’ aesthetic, sporting an ankle length dress and sarong over my shoulders. After sneakily eating food during Ramadan, I drifted off to sleep on the train with my feet up on the opposite chair. I was forced out of dreamland as Tom shook my shoulders to wake me up.
I opened my eyes and saw an old Muslim couple glaring down at me in disgust. While I was asleep the lady had tried to move my feet off the chair so she could sit down, she had seen the food on my lap, my sarong had fallen off my shoulders, and my bra straps had slipped down my arms exposing my upper breasts. It was day one in Morocco, and I’d begun with such good intentions to show respect.
On day two in Marrakesh, I went out in a sports t-shirt and ¾ tights. Being on the streets for approximately five minutes I realised that I’d made a mistake with this get-up. Despite the fact my shoulders and knees were covered, my outfit wasn’t exactly baggy and kind of showed my curves. I’ve never received so much male attention in my life, and learnt the lesson that baggy is best when it comes to women’s clothing in Muslim countries.
There were so many stray cats and dogs in Morocco. There were also plenty of dead animals – really sad. I saw dead chickens in the street, a dead cat floating in the harbour, and skinned camels hanging up at the markets. The saddest thing of all though was in Chefchouan when we saw a man kill two peacocks with his hands, put them in picnic baskets and trot up the hill. I thought he was a dickhead, and my shock inspired me to be a vegetarian. This lasted for approximately three days until I was offered chicken pizza for free. As I said, commitment is not my strong point. RIPeacocks. Above are some random images of Morrocco because I have no photos of deceased animals.
We had the best time with the locals in Morocco. The only real questionable character we met was a Scandinavian guy called Tuna. He had no money and didn’t believe in possessions meaning he stole everyone’s stuff instead of having his own. He stole belts, undies, Laura’s toothbrush and tog bottoms, and one night ate six hash truffles that one of the boys had baked. Hash cookies wasn’t all he ate; he also ate banana skins, a cork from a wine bottle, and basically anything else he could put in his mouth that no one else would.
Our diet in Morocco consisted of fried bread, cous cous, hash, a soup called harira, a sugary sweet called shibikia, and a dish called tagine, which is basically just meat, vegetables, oil and spices cooked in a clay pot. The two main dishes are so well known that the hostel kittens were called Tagine and Cous Cous. One night the hostel owner, who Ash got to know quite well 😉 and his mate Khalid treated us to an authentic Moroccan night where we cooked a tagine from scratch, got massages from the lads, got taught Moroccan dancing and sung their music. In standard Moroccan style, the lads, Hashleigh and I were chonged the entire evening.
Overall, Morocco was filled with kind hearts, quality banter, intense heat, lots of hustlin’, laughter, and potentially a little too much hash.