When I awoke this morning there were just two people in the hostel – myself and (you guessed it) a German girl named Michelle.
Everyone else had already checked out early in the morning and moved on and new people hadn’t checked in yet.
So here I was, once again, hanging out with a German girl. It’s actually quite humorous when you think about it. I mean I was just joking when I said there was a German invasion afoot but now I’m starting to wonder…
As Michelle got ready for the day, I headed out on my own to explore the city. It actually it quite a sight as there is shop after shop with the owners sitting outside trying to hustle you inside. While they’re all super friendly, there are some who area a little bit too aggressive in their style. Anyway, I’ve gotten really good at the following phrase – “no, no, maybe later”.
One man walked up to me on the street, shook my hand, a saw my Canadian flag, and asked me about Canada. Not wanting to be rude, I continued the conversation and before I knew it, he was leading me down the road to “something good, something good, you take picture”.
I reluctantly followed him because I figured I had no clear plan of where I was going anyway. He took me to a tannery which is an area where they process the skinned hides of animals to make them into leather.
Watching the workers was actually quite an experience. Now, I figured my “guide” wasn’t doing this as a courteous service to some nice Canadian and that at the end he would ask for a tip. When the “tour” ended, he led me to a leather goods store (actually smart on his part when you think about it) and I figured that was the hustle – find some tourist, lead him through a tour and then get him to buy leather. I played along and I browsed a little for appearances sake before saying I had to go.
Then came the “tip” portion of the excursion. He tried to hustle me for 200 dirham, which is about 20 euros – a price that is exorbitantly high. I actually would have happily given him 5 euros as I figured he did take me on a tour of something interesting that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, but his price was ridiculous. Anyway, I claimed I had no money and, after an uncomfortable five minutes of arguing, I was finally able to leave.
Back at the hostel, I met up with Michelle and we headed out to the Photography Museum. The Museum is a collection of black and white prints from the last 100 years of Moroccan people and life.
After perusing photos for awhile, we had some authentic street food and went shopping for some scarves. I needed one for my upcoming camel trek and well, she’s a girl – she just needed one. My turn to hustle!
We were led down the street and around the corner by a man promising good quality scarves. Sure enough, he did show us some good scarves but he wanted 350 dirham for them – that’s almost 18 euros each. That was way more than we were expecting so we counter offered 50 dirham. After a couple of negotiations that included us walking out of the shop with him coming after us, we were able to get the scarves for 120 dirham or about 6 euros each. Much better!
Afterwards, we headed back to the hostel where we ended up chatting for quite a while in the upper deck terrace. Before we knew it, it was time to eat again so we headed out for dinner in the big square where there is booth after booth of street food available.
Going through the square is quite the task as you are constantly stopped by people trying to hustle you into their food stall. After finally navigating through and fending off vendor after vendor, we ended up in a stall that had horrible food. We were so displeased that Michelle actually talked three different people who sat down after us to not eat there and to head over to stall 98 where we had eaten the previous night.
Still being hungry, we actually went over to stall 98 as well and, once again, had an amazing full meal. I actually hustled a few other people who were standing there debating where to go to sit down and join us. So, you heard it here first – if you come to Marrakesh, go to stall 98!
Tomorrow, I head on my Camel Trek through the Sahara Desert early in the morning for 3 days. Can’t wait!