“Do not visit Marrakech! It’s impossible to take pictures of people, and everyone tries to hustle you!!!”
My expectations before visiting Marrakech
We spent two weeks in Morocco in the spring of 2017, the last two days in Marrakech. I had heard it was going to be difficult to take pictures of people, to expect very persistent sellers and that is was going to be hot. And everyone returns from Morocco with at least one carpet. The difficulties in photographing people was my biggest problem. I love street photography, to catch people in their everyday life. This, I heard, was impossible in Marrakech.
My experiences in Marrakech
Yes, the sales-people are aggressive in Marrakech. Not in a “I’m gonna beat the crap out of you” way, they just don’t hear the word “no” the first time. Or the second time. They know that if they push just enough, we give up. And we spend just a little money to not seem rude.
“No, I’m not German, I’m from Norway. You have heard of it? How nice! Well, no actually, I don’t need more spices right now. Just take a look of your shop? Sure, why not. Thank you very much for the tour of your shop and all the information. Buy? No thank you. Good bye!!
How to survive: Just walk away! It’s always OK to walk away! And you don’t have to reply to EVERY PERSON approaching you – it’s OK to be a bit rude. It’s also OK to browse the shop without the intent to buy anything. “No thank you, I’m just looking.” It’s their job to get you to buy something – it’s your job to not buy shit you don’t need just to be nice.
The helpful people in the streets
“Hello my friend! You need riad? Place to sleep? Are you lost?? Follow me, I’ll show you!”
People kept beliving that we were lost in Marrakech. True, we strolled the narrow souks, looking around (cameras ready!) and at times we wasn’t sure where we were. But we weren’t lost! Some people wanted to help us – others wanted our money.
First of all – if you don’t get lost, you don’t need directions. There’s an app for that! Check out MAPS.ME. Ask the shop-keepers if you need help or directions. They don’t expect money, but they’ll try to sell you something. The applies to street hustlers as to street vendors – just say no and walk away. Or don’t say anything, and walk away.
The medina in Marrakech
There’s smoke from burning grills, monkeys, huge snakes and people singing and dancing (or having a stroke?). The street vendors are pumped up, and all the restaurants have people out fishing for tourists! The smell burned meat from the BBQs, the spices and just a small hint of urine in the outskirts of the medina tickles the nose. It’s chaos in the most spectacular way!
“Dinner, by friend! Place number 25! The best! Maybe tomorrow, InShaAllah!”
People gather in large circles to entertain, to socialize and to make money. If you take a picture, they expect to get paid. And trust me, they are watching you! Plenty times we saw tourists running away, locals close behind yelling “money money you pay!!”
How to survive: If you like the show they’re providing, give them some money. You don’t have to give much – they’ll ask for more regardless. If someone places a monkey on your shoulder (it’ll probably happen!) without your consent, say NO and walk away! And you ladies, watch out for the henna-tattoo-ladies. Don’t say no with your hands, as they’ll start the tattoo before you get to finish the sentence. Keep your hands to your self and just say no.
You should definitely visit Marrakech!
We had the best of times in Marrakech, and we did almost none of the touristy things. I miss the hours spent in the narrow souks with something exciting and new around every corner!
Do you have any suggestions or tips from Marrakech? Please leave a comment below!