MY FIRST DAY IN MARRAKECH
Morocco is unlike any place I have been to before and it is such a culture shock for me. As soon as I got off the plane I realized I was in for so much more than I expected. The streets in the Medina are busy and full of life with traffic running in both directions and narrow roads full of merchants and donkeys.
With all of this going on it is easy to feel unsafe and to be worried especially since I stand out like a sore thumb in my western clothes compared to the traditional garb of the Muslim women.
The form of currency used here is the dirham and the current exchange rate is 1 USD to 8.41 MAD. With that being said, everything was pretty cheap for me. After checking into the Riad (apartment or flat) I headed into the town to get some food.
I decided to eat at a nearby restaurant outside of the main square (Jemaa Al Fna) as I was recommended by my driver not to eat the food in the square, in fear of food poisioning. When visiting here it is best to not eat american fast food (McDonald's etc.) or market food.
Also don't be surprised by the stares from the locals. They are not used to our dress and will look out of curiousity. In regards to the local dress, we have to make sure we do not stare at them because this makes them uncomfortable.
I took very few pictures today because I didn't want to make any of the locals feel uncomfortable and I was also still feeling out the city.
The weather was lovely, around the 70's all day until it hits dusk and steadily dropped down to the 50's which is very common for desert climates.
Here are a few images I snapped along the way:
PS-When traveling throughout Jamma El Fna (the center square in the old city) be on the look out for merchants trying to get money out of you. They may say they will give you a service and even if you tell them you don't want the service they may do it anyway and expect payment. This is what happened with two Moroccan ladies in the square. We told them we were in a rush and would come back to get henna yet they insisted they give us a little "free" design until we get back. Once she did our hands she demanded that we pay 500 dirhams even though we told her we had no change. The exchange ended when they realized the couldn't get money from us and cursed us out.
All in all today was quite an experience here and I learned the importance of being on guard at all times when traveling to foreign countries. Despite the natural beauty of Morocco, the inhabitants are working class and will try to take advantage of tourists to make money. Feel free to triple check prices and bargain before buying anything. Also don't allow someone to start a service or insist on helping you, they are most likely looking to get paid.
I can't wait to head to the Atlas Mountains tomorrow and the Ourika waterfalls to see more of the natural beauty of Marrakech.