Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Moroccan Adventure: Getting hassled in the Market

The markets are probably what most people think of when they consider Morocco. A picture of snake charmers, colorful textiles and brass lanterns come to mind. And all of that is there and more. It's also a very aggressive market - especially as Marrakech is teeming with tourists. Hawkers on all sides asking you to "take a look", "good price" which then degrades to "why don't you just look?" and "what are you so angry madam?" as you try to walk past without making eye contact. Because our Riad was in the middle of this, we 'walked the gauntlet' a few times a day.

The worst encounter was a woman offering henna, which is the traditional skin 'painting' that is very popular in the Middle East and North African regions. I politely said no and she said, "maybe later?" I agreed maybe later and the she grabbed my hand and started drawing a henna flower on it. I laughed nervously and tried to pull away saying no, no, but she held fast and was very quick with her art. She chattered on the whole time with, "a special flower for you today madam . . . blah blah blah." I finally was able to pull away and started walking. That's when she siddled up to Brian and said that he must pay for the beautiful flower she just gave his wife. He tried saying no and I said that I had never asked for the flower. Eventually Brian gave her the equivalent of a quarter as it was easier than continuing to argue. Let's just say I kept my hands close to my sides after that!

The country is quite poor so prices are cheap, but the aggression is a bit overwhelming . . . maybe we're just out of practice, but we thought they were some of the most aggressive we've run into in our travels. I think because we had to walk through there every time we left or returned to our Riad, it really started to get on my nerves.

The photos below are from another market that is much more open and spacious. I couldn't really take any pictures in the crowded market outside our Riad . . . at least not without getting hassled even more and probably run over by a motorcycle!

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