I wanted to get away for a weekend. Just someplace different, some place new, a place where I could possibly be taken hostage. Hmmm….Marrakesh, Morocco it is.
I stepped into Marrakesh’s walled city, the Medina, and a thought crossed my mind, “This is the smell of a 1001 forsaken showers.” But as I turned to my left I realized a local donkey just tossed its lunch out the back door…pleasant start.
In the 30 minutes of research I did after buying my ticket to Morocco I learned 2 things;
# 1. Don’t talk or make eye contact with strangers #2. My hostel, though very highly rated and recommended, is apparently impossible to find.
But like most things in life, experience is the only way to to truly learn anything.
I stepped into the town square, luggage in hand, and spotted three men sitting around a Cobra seemingly talking amongst themselves. As the serpent stayed still for me to snap its picture, its owners burst into action like the titanic crew trying to keep the ship afloat.
“White tourist! All hands on deck.”
I agreed to give them a couple euros at the start, but is wasn’t long before I had a water snake wrapped around my neck and a Moroccan chanting good luck incantations while his compatriot (with my camera) snapped at least ten photos of the same pose. As the circus subsided, the negotiations began. Seeing as I did have a fun time with my two extortionists I offered 4 euros. This was quickly met with absolute revolt, disgust and an immediate DEMAND for 20 euros. My anger was just below boiling point so I pulled a 5 euro note from my pocket, placed it in the man’s hand, patted him on the shoulder and started walking away. Apparently this was not appreciated as he forcibly grabbed my arm and pulled me back into their circle. Neat.
At this point my anger was quickly substituted for a slight fear and an impending feeling of doom. The first thing that came to mind was, “If these guys pull out the Cobra on me I”ll give them 100 euros and just chalk this up to lesson learned,” but thankfully a saving grace stepped forward.
The smallest and youngest of my charming new friends noticed the combination climbing clip/compass/watch I had attached to my gym bag. This little trinket had been a useless fixture on my bag for the last four years, and deprived of any battery power for the last two.
When he asked me to hand it over to suggest we would have reached an agreement I nearly laughed. I quickly unclipped my item and threw it just above them into the air. As they looked up I grabbed my bags and hauled ass deeper into the square. I turned around after a few metres to see the younger man cherishing his new toy as the elder screamed at him for his poor negotiating skills.
Welcome to Marrakesh.
Check back for Part 2- finding my hostel and living like a Sheik.