Sunday, August 3, 2014

Morocco for solo girl (author-Magda)

Photograph by Bjoern Obst
My „travelling alone” to Morocco started from love. Four years ago I’ve met a Moroccan man who was visiting my country - Poland and my city – Kraków. And I decided to visit his mysterious country in order to understand him better , at the earliest opportunity. The love to a man transformed in unconditional love to his homeland, and I am falling in love with Morocco over and over again.

My first travel to Morocco (Agadir) was booked with a travel agency. Although I’ve read a lot about local culture before coming to Morocco, I was a bit shocked during the first alone walk through the city streets. It was an endless greeting from local men: ”Bonjour-Madamoiselle-Cava-Hello-How-are-you-good-morning-you’are beautiful”. And I was dressed from head to toe. At first I was politely responding but than I’ve realised it wasn’t the good idea. For some it was an invitation to small talk. I felt like having written on my forehead: „First time in Morocco and alone”.
Photograph by Peter Phipp
But the real jump into deep water was first lonely visit at covered souk in Agadir (one of the biggest in Morocco), where sellers literally were touching me and inviting to see their stuff. I ran away after few minutes but I have learned my lesson. For the next walking tour I was wearing a scarf, similar to hijab. And it actually worked.

Since than I have been travelling alone to Morocco many times. And each time I add some new observation to my list of the dos and don’ts. So if you are planning to going to Morocco for the fist time all alone, here are some usefull tips:
 - Try to read as much as possible about local customs and culture before the trip

- Dress code: forget skimpy tops and hot pants. If you wanna dress yourself like this – go to Ibiza. The more modest you are dressed, the better it works for you. If you have to wear a top take some scarf with you to cover your arms. It will also protect you from the burning sun. Wearing a loose scarf on your head - especially if you are blonde – will help to avoid attention. I always wear a scarf while throwing myself in crowded places full of local people.

- Don’t put heavy make up on. It does not look good and in hot temperature it will melt in few minutes

- While talking to a stranger (asking direction or buying the carpet) avoid longer eye contact. They can interpret it as an invitation to flirt. Same with the smile.

- If you have noticed that someone is following you – on the beach or in the medina - stop accidentally ,pretending to be attracted by something and rapidly change direction

- Losing yourself on purpose can be romantic in Siena but not if you are inside the ancient medina labyrinth of Fez

- If you are lost (especially in Marrakech and Fez) - don’t panic. Just pretend you are walking the right direction and try to find the nearest shop or hotel to ask advice. Medinas are full of faux guides waiting for their „victims”. They are not dangerous but once they showed you the right way, will demand money for their „job”.

- Always thank politely but FIRMLY

- Before throwing yourself in medina check where’s the closest „brigade touristique” office.

To end I will share you this quite funny advice given by my Moroccan friend: „If you have a child with you no one will harass you” ;)

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