Morocco VII

After a couple days on the coast, we are back in Marrakesh. Marrakesh hasn't changed but they way we approach it has. We walk like we know where we are going. When locals on the street try to grab our attention, we ignore them. We adopt a "don't give a fuck" attitude without being obnoxious assholes. This change is not difficult. All it takes is remembering how we act at home, in the city, and here we are. A day goes by and we slow down a bit. We stop and look at things and shine on those who approach us. "No" becomes the main word in our vocabulary. When the street hustlers react like they've been wronged, we remember that Marrakesh has been around for centuries. The games the hustlers play have been passed on for eons. "No" is part of that game.

Of course, all Marrakeshis are not hustlers. The hustlers are just the loudest, the people who call the most attention to themselves, so they seem omnipresent even when they aren't. It is very easy to think that everyone is suspect, looking to hustle, even the guy with the literal hole-in-the-wall mini-mart who sells you a can coke for twenty-five cents ("Doesn't he owe me a dime?!?!"). It is also very easy fall into Western guilt and try to compensate by treat everyone with openness. But that approach is as wrong headed as cynicism. People are people, individuals are individuals, and we as travelers are strangers. Act as you do when you aren't on your own turf, with politeness but caution. We go 5000 miles only to discover basic common sense.

Marrakesh the second time through is much, much easier. A day trip to Casablanca isn't notable but it breaks things up. We stay in downtown Casa and it is much like any big city in France, though a bit more worn out. While we don't blend in, we don't stick out. We are just another couple of people walking down the street. The train ride back to Marrakesh is a couple hours of looking at desert. Our cab driver finds us at the train station (beautiful) and takes us through the maze to our riad. Our remaining days are a slow wander. Though we've stopped struggling with Marrakesh, we are tired of what we know. We are too familiar with the surface and to go any deeper would require months (if not years), a good handle on Arabic, and someone to lead the way.

We get to Madrid and take stock. We spent too much time in Marrakesh, enough time in Essourira, and not enough time elsewhere. Reading and talking to others, I've found that every Moroccan city is a world onto itself. The country has captured many imaginations and is as rich and complex as any place on Earth. I will go back there for more. I feel like I barely visited.

Rais Md Damsiri
Arka Ialla Litch 7" (Koutoubiaphone, 197?)

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