Travel Diary: Marrakesh, Morocco

February 12, 2014

I had some friends who were planning a trip to Morocco from Ghana in the New Year, so I thought I would just invite myself along since it would be cheap for me to fly from London. Besides Ghana, I had never been to any other African country so I saw this trip as a start to covering the continent. Usually before I go to a new country, I would do a bit of research about the environment and weather as well as history and culture to make sure I don’t do anything illegal. With this trip I didn’t bother because I was gatecrashing a planned holiday and one my friends is a self-appointed travel agent. She always creates an excel document of her travel plans and notes down every detail as well as carries printed itineraries everywhere. So I thought what was the point, she can just feed info through to me.

The trip was for 5 days and four nights and on the itinerary, we basically had the first day to chill, tours for the second and third day, half-day activity for the fourth day and departure on the fifth. In my head I was thinking why has this girl book us on all these tours, where is the time to chill? I later realised that if she didn’t book us on the tours we probably would have been bored after the first day and killed the holiday.

Travel tip #1 for Marrakesh: If you go for over two days, book a tour beyond the city. Do your research. It is most likely that it will be cheaper to book the tours when you are in the city, but if you book it before like us, you relieve the stress of finding something to do upon arrival.

Since I didn’t research where I was going, I had no expectation. I had heard/read that Marrakesh was a holiday hot spot, but I just didn’t think I would fall in love like I did. A beautiful mix of French and Arab culture from food, to interiors and architecture, the varied landscape of the Atlas Mountains, the history and coastal surroundings of Essaouira, the people, the colours and vibe. Also a very clean city!

Travel tip #2: Haggle your heart out!
I started haggling hardcore from the get go with one of the girls and another said to us ‘Stop being so stingy. It’s cheap anyway’. We told her ‘When you are in Rome, you do what the Romans do’. She was adamant that there was no need to haggle, until she got ripped off. Once you are burned like that, you start playing with fire. One of our tour guides even told us to start our bid below half when a vendor gives you a price and then negotiate. After a two days, I was starting my bids below half and started a tactic where I wouldn’t budge and proceed to walk out the store. Haggling became my sport! There was one particular night, I was on fire, came back with so much stuff that I had to purchase extra luggage for my flight home. I walked out on one guy who freakishly decided to follow my friend and I on his bike over 1 km away from his store. By this time it wasn’t cool and panic struck me. My heart was racing.  Luckily for us, we just happened to be with two local youths who we had become acquainted with the day before (One of them actually tried to take us to the wrong Riad on our first night). They were kind enough to shoo the man away. If they were not there I don’t know what would have happened, because the guy basically followed us for quite a while. Rode up and down past us, which I thought was quite suspicious. Then got off his bike and started walking abruptly towards me yelling a price as if he was going to attack me. #notcool

Travel tip #3: Do not leave Marrakesh or Morocco for that matter without trying their sweet mint tea or Targine!!! Chicken Targine with olives and flat bread! #nom nom! If you don’t try either, you haven’t been to Morocco. It’s like going to Italy and not having pizza or pasta.

Going to Morocco has fuelled the urge to visit other countries in Africa. Before Afroklectic, I think had a shallow concept of Africa. I never really investigated what was in Africa. I know the main marks of Africa (You know the ones which every knows. The Sahara, Pyramids, Victoria Falls, Cape Town etc), the flags, the countries which do well in certain sports at the Olympics. Thanks to my dad and our after-school-geography lessons when I was growing up, I knew where the countries were too. For some reason, I just thought most of the countries were like Ghana with some exceptions of course. I thought countries with the Sahara were just desert with a nomadic population and one or two major cities. I am even ashamed to admit that’s how narrow my thinking was. But what do you expect from a child growing up in Australia who wasn’t even sure if she was even African back then! To be fair, the internet wasn’t popping back in my day. The library books were just photographs of Africans in traditional wear of their respective countries/ethic groups and then there were World Vision ads. It’s hard to know the real side of a place until you go there!



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You can check out the rest of my travel snaps on my personal instagram (@gilleanopoku).

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