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The Routine Hassles of Travelling in a Tourist’s World

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.

Ramadan Repast with Trout Fishing in America- For Stubbs.
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Filed under: Africa, Morocco, Travel Problems

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3169 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Puketi Forest, New ZealandMap