Two months have gone by since my trip to Morocco and I just wanted to leave here a few impressions and little things I noticed. Morocco surprised me in different ways and was definitely an experience outside my comfort zone, which is what travelling is also about.
– WHERE ARE THE WOMEN –
I’m a woman and a feminist which makes it hard to swallow the position of a woman in Muslim societies – pretty much delegated to the domestic scene. And that’s so clear that I found it rare to see a woman facing the customer. In hotel reception, always a man. Waiters behind the cafes counter? Men. Serving your food at a restaurant? Again, men. Even in the family owned guesthouse we stayed in Moulay Idriss where we had the pleasure of having a traditional home cooked dinner – cooked by a woman who we never laid our eyes on – only on his husband and son, serving the food at our table. In the streets, we do see women passing by, usually in pairs, going on the daily grocery shopping. But never sitting on esplanades – unless accompanied by a man. And that was the other thing I found intimidating. The esplanades were mostly full of men, as well as the interior of restaurants and cafes.
– THE WAY THEY SIT ON THE ESPLANADES –
Moroccans to spend their time in the cafe, drinking their mint tea or coffee. Apart from the fact these terrasses were usually occupied by men, I found it funny how they sit facing the street, even when with others. They sit side by side, next to each other, conversing, but with their eyes on the street.
– YOU’LL DISAPPOINT THEM IF YOU ACCEPT THE FIRST PRICE –
YUP. Negotiate and don’t be afraid to do it. It is part of the culture and they seem to truly enjoy it. They would always smile and laugh when I requested a lower price. Remember everything has a limit… but there is usually flexibility to bring the price down, so don’t be shy!
– MOROCCAN MEN ARE DAD JOKE TELLERS –
I was positively surprised with how good humoured everyone was. Because I was mostly facing men in my interactions with locals, I can only tell all of them had a funny sense of humour – not exactly with clever jokes, just the typical daddy ones.
There was this time while having breakfast on this guesthouse in Moulay Idriss, the owner asked me if I wanted coffee. When I firmly said yes, please, he asked black?. I confirmed. And then he was like black men? laughing. Or this one guy who kept telling the WiFi password was 1 and two 3’s, and three 4’s when it was clearly 1234, while getting my friend to be his ally by winking at her. Or when this same guy decided to wish me happy birthday when it was someone else’s, just for fun. So yeah, you might have a lot of encounters with this sort of jokes. Just remember that they don’t mean to offend you, but only to break the ice, and be playful. It was never a joke of poor taste, so even if you find it annoying just smile and wave. That’s what I did.
– FOUR SEATS AVAILABLE, BUT ONLY THREE PASSENGERS ALLOWED –
In Marrakesh we used the petit taxi often and we found that they are only allowed by law to take 3 passengers despite having an extra space. It seems they can get into trouble if taking 4 passengers…
– THE CALL TO PRAYER MIGHT SOUND CREEPY –
We found the call to prayer to be different in every place we were at. It was especially different in Moulay Idriss and Chefchaouen. It goes on three times a day, and one of those times was at 5am. I woke up most times, to go again easily back to sleep… except in these two towns. I don’t mean disrespect. I just found incredibly eerie in these two towns, but also a mind opening experience.
– CATS CATS EVERYWHERE –
OK this was not a problem for me. I love cats, animals in general really. And well in Morocco cats are sort of a plague, which I’m sure should be a bad thing. Not only for humans but also for the poor furry things, which probably live a short life, starving. And now it comes the most weird situation involving a cat.
I saw a cat dying of some sort of epileptic attack in my first day in Casablanca. I was sitting at this cafe having lunch with my friend. Looked across the window and noticed a cat trembling as if being electrocuted between two parked cars. It was awful. I couldn’t hear anything since I was inside, but some of passer bys stopped and finally, when the cat seemed to calm down and laid motionless, a man went to check if it was dead. It seems like it was. So he grabbed some newspaper, wrapped the body with it and took it not sure where. I was in shock. That was a situation I really didn’t want to live but well…I guess it’s a good story (?)
– THEY HAVE A SWEET TOOTH –
I do love mint tea and was very happy to try it out in Morocco. However, the typical moroccan tea was at times so sweet I swear you could smell the sugar. I am the kind of person who never takes sugar with my tea or my coffee. In Morocco, if you ask for mint tea, they won’t bring you the sugar on the side, so if you don’t want any sugar you need to remind yourself to say so when ordering.
So I did this, and the waiter looked at me in surprise when I said un thé a la menthe sans sucre. I repeated in English just to be sure. He got it. But there was this one time this older man was so surprised, almost in shock, he kept repeating in English, to make sure I understood “without sugar? no sugar?”. I had to confirm about twenty times but he finally got it. It was funny in a way, and I think they just thought “bah foreigners and their weird ways. Tea with no sugar? Now I can die knowing I’ve seen everything”.
This is particularly noticeable with tea, but they also add sugar on dishes that to me would typically be savory. For instance, the very traditional pastille, some sort of a meaty pie/pastry, is topped with sugar powder, most times in excess. On the other hand, I found some other dishes to be insipid, lacking some extra pints of salt.
– THEIR ARTISTIC VIBE –
I was positively surprised to discover beautiful paintings on traditional subjects in so many different styles. Moroccans are not only great artesans but clearly have an artistic talent I wasn’t expecting to find.
There were a lot more things I’m sure…I did learn so much on this trip. Do check my other posts on Morocco. And for the cat lovers, I might be preparing a gallery where Moroccan cats will the be the stars 🙂
Thanks for reading!
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