I am very surprised by Marrakech. I can breathe peacefully here. I walk down the streets without being hustled or hassled. There seems to be less drug dealers and hotel runners here per capita than in most places in Morocco. I am rather impressed. Either the authorities in Marrakech have done a good job in keeping the hustlers away from tourists, the shop keepers have already earned so much money that they do not need to hire the services of touts and faux guides, or the tourist cloud is so think that poor little me can slip through the crowd undetected by barnacles, leeches, and touts- and I therefore do not really notice the hassles that other people are being put through. Maybe it is a little of all three.
The way I figure it is if one were in the market for a pig they would select the biggest, plumpest one they could find. And in this city of fat pigs (tourists with money), I look like the gauntest, poorest, degenerate piglet of them all. Needless to say, I am not bothered here.
But all humor aside, not many tourists or travelers seem to be getting hassled by touts here in Marrakech. This city is a world away from Fez. You can really walk down the streets without being eaten by sharks. You cannot mind a place like this. I almost really like it here. I have all the amenities here of a city with a high tourist population- good internet, cheap food, cheapish room- without the expected drawbacks- touts, tour runners, barnacles, and rip-off vendors. As Andy puts it, the Standard Deviation of Culture seems to be surprisingly low in Marrakech for the huge numbers of tourists the city attracts. I am impressed, I was expecting to step off the plane into the belly of the tourist inferno. I must say that I was wrong. These are only my impressions . . .
Mira and I got an acceptably priced room in the Hotel El Bochra, which is right down in the heart of the medina. I worked the manager a little on the price and got a double for around the same price as two dorm-beds in the youth hostel. The room, bathroom, and hotel is clean, and the staff speak with smiles that I feel are genuine. There is an electrical outlet in the room, and guests are permitted to hang out on the roof top terrace, which has a decent view of the High Atlas mountains in the distance. I can not ask for anything more. I am comfortable here in Marrakech. I was not expecting this.
Travel is a funny experience. You can never expect anything at any time. You can only take what you have in the moment and run with it. All too often the beautiful utopia at the end of the road turns out to be pile of mud, and the pile of mud town that you happen to stumble into ends up being a truly beautiful place. You can not take anyone’s advice when you plan your journey. Just pick a dot on the map that attracts your attention and go there without asking questions. You will be surprised.
For better or worse.
Cheap Eating Traveler