The beauty and the beast from Morocco

Nearly 2 full months passed in Morocco as we cross on the fast speed catamaran to Tarifa, Spain, where on a clear day you can see the north of Africa. Just few weeks ago we were jumping for joy, arriving to our 7th continent and on our second day in Africa we expedited to reach High Atlas Mountains. The snow didn’t allow for higher passage. We were perplexed; when we think of Africa the desert comes to mind. So we made the best with what we had and a tiny snowman was created.

Mother Africa, Morocco is in Africa alright is on the North-West side of the continent. Many say  —Morocco it’s not really Africa— since is not black as most will imagine. It displays Spanish and French influence and when combined with Muslim religion it creates a twisted, beautiful, interesting and hustling world on its own.

 Our recap of Morocco
— No, I don’t want to go with you to see your uncle’s shop. No I will not give you 5 dirhams for nothing. How much? I though it was 5 not 8 for a bottle of water.— White and a foreign woman? No chance to get a real deal in Morocco.  Hustlers. Moroccan people are born to hustle, is the only way they know how to survive, for years they have been selling and dealing with foreigners. They are born to bargain and make every cent count.

You will be damn if you don’t purchase hand made, colorful, sand-doom crafted rug. Which will cost you triple less the price in Morroco than back home. Seller will look deep into your soul and pick whatever he needs to make you say yes. — YES, this is a great deal. I will take it. — After all I can use a new rug, if it isn’t for the floor it will work on the wall. For a fraction of the price I will make a local smile and fill up his pipe. I say “he” because after traveling for 2 months in Morocco, we have only dealt with men, in the markets, in hotels and on the streets. Man rule Morocco and woman are the iconic figures from a Muslim world.

Like in most countries we have traveled through in the past 2 years, a woman is a beauty pearl covered in shit. In the western culture woman are tolerated and treated almost equal in a relationship, career and on the streets; freedom of creative attire revealing some skin is totally accepted and encouraged contrarily in Morocco such manners can lead to culture shock and disrespect for Morocco. Where for example showing a peace of sexy flesh is forbidden yet drooled for.

“Woman are expected to practice, hijab which means that women must keep the essential forms of their womanhood covered from view with clothing that does not provide much of an indication of the shapes and graces found within when in public or in the company of men that are not of their family.” Which explains their alike unity of same looks. Women of Morocco tend to publicly wear long and loose robes (djellaba), button-up blouses which extend down to the knees or the ankles (kafkan), and headscarves (khimar), which cover most of the hair, the ears and the neck.

“A woman should be covered not revealing hair, ears and skin as it might arouse the man. A woman should always speak to men in a slight angry tone so the man will not get horny. “ — comment a Moroccan man on a random post I have read.

Who made these rules? A man? One man, one time said one thing and the rest followed, all to benefit the machos. What happens if a man talks and I get turned on? Do the woman are allowed to get turned on by the tune of a flirting man?

Traveling through Morocco this mentality and culture is easily spotted in the Berber community and all around woman are expected to behave and serve the community in a spoken way. We have seen many different situations: abuse, overuse and mistreatment. Most woman are powerless, man rule the streets and everything around them. It’s part of the culture; it’s their perspective of life and hierarchy. In many cases the woman protect, and prefer this lifestyle and will fight to keep the man, culture and religion in power. In the urban cites like Marakech, Rabat and Casablanca the modern influence and mentality has integrated into Moroccan traditions.

On February 11th, Saturday night, where Iza, Tania and I went out to an underground deep-house Y Serious party, where TITO and Yassine rocked the house, we were pleased to see all the party goers dressed to impressed. Man and woman were rocking out on even sides with even drinks. We have attended one of the best parties on our journey in a Muslim country, the music was great the dance was even better just the man were pushy.

— Sorry but we won’t pay you for following us 8 hours up the mountain after we expressed we don’t need a guide. I have an orange if you want? I asked. After returning back from trekking all day with a random man that followed us, in Chefchaouen. Iza reached into my bag for an orange and at the same time he approached me and grabbed my nipple, hinting of an alternative payment. Whaaa… so fresh! They hustle for anything using others vulnerability they are blunt, aggressive to get their point across. He crossed the line. 

Western woman are considered easy and don’t get much respect. In a way you can’t blame their behavior, many foreign women aren’t aware of Moroccan culture and reveal a bit too much.  It’s important when traveling to Muslim countries to respect the culture and cover up. Short skirts, short shorts and sleeveless tank tops, are not advised and this applies to man and woman. Morocco is not a place to come for a tan; it’s a place for culture experience with 3D panorama. It’s a place of beauty and the beast. If you see beauty the beast will follow.

Moroccan way? The people recycle everything, not by separating plastic from paper where millions of dollars are invested into cleaning up the streets. How? I have no idea, I just know they do, the poor man takes the plastic, they fill it with Amlu (home made mixture of crushed almonds, honey and argon oil. Yummy) and resale in stores. They eat from one plate; less water to use to wash up and like in Sri Lanka and India they also eat with their hands, helps to feel the texture. Food leftover is given to cats and birds. Dogs are underdogs, the cats rule the street.

What can you get out of Morocco?
Everything if you open your eyes, mind and wallet. Shopping, for a reason France, Spain, Germany even Poland come down to Morocco for shopping. Its leather goods, hand crafted rug, and other crafts are most interesting and unique we have seen in all of the 7 continents. Lamps, rugs, tea pots, furniture, shoes, bags, musical instruments and all other cool looking things have a character on their own, not made in China. Yet, they are cheap, in price and often in quality. For display only, the better quality the bigger dollar. I purchased a leather bag, for 200 dirham, perfect size for my laptop, what a deal! I used it three times and on the fourth day the stitching started to undo, the pin popped and the bag started to fall apart. What a disappointment. The leather is strong, the stitching is weak so quantity not quality, yet very attractive and unique.

Panorama of pleasure is what comes to mind when I think of Morocco. Without a doubt Morocco has one of the best scenery I have seen in my life. Especially the southern part Sahara Dessert, the rose valleys, the mountains and the architecture is enough to overcome the hustling side of Moroccans. We were beaming in admiration when David, our host in Marakech, took us on our first ride into the mountains, passing through villages with stunning landscapes. As the culture rolls from traditions to modernization, the ordinary people are some of the warmest and giving people we have met yet. Aside from the hustlers in touristy places they will share tea and welcome you for the best feat they can offer.
Recently I read a blog post about a girl who has traveled to Morocco for 3 weeks and at the end she listed all the benefits that shinned on her vacation and how it changed her life. She also, stated that she would love to return to Morocco with the following; a guy to travel with, bigger bag and different clothes.

100% we AGREE! We will return to Morocco, with a guy to travel with, with a bigger bag to bring back all the handcraft goodies and fewer clothes to have space for more new ones.

Aside from all the unpleasant things we have experienced while in Morocco, Iza and I, both agree that Morocco falls into our top 5 favorite destinations. It’s cheap for travel, has delicious food, creative textiles and some of the best landscapes mother earth revealed. 

More photos on picasa.

Related links:
Moroccan woman clothing.

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