I almost got in a fight with an old cross-eyed Berber waiter tonight. My meal was 25 Dirham, he tried to get 60 out of me. I was being rolled. Things got rough when I refused to pay any more than my meal costed. He began grabbing and pulling at me violently. But he eventually backed down when I made an issue of it to the entire restaurant. There was really no debating the price on the menu, as I waved it around pointing to what I ordered. I threw him a few extra Dirham for trying though, and got out of there quick. Did I mention that he was cross-eyed?
Perhaps the graft trap will not be set as tight for the next pennywise traveller that happens to sit down at that table. But I doubt it. The traveller is fair game in cities like Fes. Which can be tiresome. I deserved what I got though. The first ten tourist that the old cross-eye waiter tried that move on probably paid it. 60 Dirham, $7.50, is not much if you are on vacation. But for a lightpocketed wanderer, seven dollars and fifty cents is a half day’s total expenditure in nearly any country on the planet, and a full day of travel in many countries.
“It is only a few dollars and they need it more than me,” I have heard tourists say too many times to count.
But it is not only a few dollars when it becomes a constant hustle. It is a hustle. It is a matter of principle. Someone that is hustled cannot be respected, and this lack of basic human respect is overtly prevalent in nearly every location of the globe that tourists gather- where everybody, local and transient, is just a transparency, a walking ghost.
Although a transient, I still want to be a real live human being. I want to be open to people and conversations and smiles. I do not like running away from people at the call of “Hello, my friend.”
“I am not your friend, leave me alone.”
I do not like being regarded as a walking pot of money that can be dripped dry, cheated, and hustled without resistance (even when I am). I also do not like to regard people as being money grubbing, crooked, hustlers (even when they are). That is why I like to avoid places where people go. Tourist attractions are black holes of the human spirit. I am being sucked in, gotta get out of Fes.
To the country side Where humans are human, the world over.
Everybody hates money.
I like Japan, you never think of money there, because everything is so expensive that you can’t afford anything anyway.
I like the nether regions of China you never think of money because everything is so cheap.
I like walking and sleeping on the ground, because it is free (never had Ol Mother Gaia send me a bill yet).
“Free? I like the sound of that.”
“Not free as in free, but free as in you have to pay for it ”
-Circus Subvertcus performance
But I have become a little weary, for in so many places in this world the full extent of the “multi-cultural” experience that is readily available is a sad exchange of money, a photograph, and maybe a costume show is the really, just a show. I try hard to avoid these places. The romance is on the other side of the hill.
But, on the other hand, that is the way it is and I figure that I may as well enjoy it for its own merit. So I will have fun in this city. I will try to make friends, and greet those who want to sell me something with a laugh. This is as interesting a time as any for the traveller.
But I find that I am drawn to ugly places for a reason.
I just want to get through a crash course in Arabic, study some French, give Café Abroad a stinking city guide, write a few articles, and get into the countryside. I am aiming to have this all done at the latest by October 9th. I just have a really difficult time living in cities. I get a horrid case of neurosis after a only few days. . . a month and I become a wreak.