after getting back from the desert (and showering), we decided to all go out to a fancy dinner since it was natasha and yan’s last night in morocco. we found a place listed in our guide book that was supposedly very nice, and went out to go find it. the tricky part was that it was deep in the medina, and there are no street names there. the guide book said that we just had to find this one random street and then follow signs or ask random locals to direct us. i thought it was really cool that we were heading out to find this mysterious restaurant hidden in the middle of a maze, but what i hadn’t expected, was just how nice this place would actually be.
we walked in the doors to the smell of roses, and the carpets of this place were covered w/ rose petals all over the place. the person at the door walked us in through two huge doors to the dining area which was dimly lit and looked super fancy: rose petals everywhere including on the tables, a really cool looking fountain in the middle of the room, highly decorated walls, and two guys playing moroccan music quitely in the middle of the room. it really looked like we had just stepped into a palace. heh, the waiters here would even change out your ashtray *every time* that you finished one cigarette.
also, for the first time since we got to morocco, the moroccan food was really really good. we got to choose from a set menu, and everything i ate was absolutely delicious. even the couscous, instead of being bland and boring, was excellent. the only problem was that for some reason, none of us was really all that hungry, and they brough us a *ton* of food. soooooo much food. so much that i think we probably wasted more food than we actually ate. one crazy thing we ate was pigeon pie. literally, it was a flaky pastry w/ pigeon meat inside. as is always the case w/ pretty much anything, the pigeon meat tasted like chicken.
the following morning, i ended up really regretting the dinner from the night before. well, actually i’ really not sure if it was the fancy dinner, or something completely different, but i woke up at 5 in the morning in some major pain. my inside felt like they were going to explode. for the rest of the day, all i could do lay around in pain and also run to the bathroom every once in a while. ugh. it was such a rough day. finally around 7ish, i felt good enough to leave the room, and we had dinner w/ yan and natasha who were about to leave on the 9 oclock train. to placate my stomach, we avoided moroccan food altogether, and instead opted for pizza 🙂 .
it was at this point that i started feeling really disenchanted w/ morocco. it’s funny how being sick can really strongly ruin your impression of a place temporarily. on my thailand trip, when i got sick, i really really was disgusted by thailand for a day, and then the following day it was better. same thing here. that night i was feeling so negative about everything. the food that was unexciting and could make you sick, the unfriendliness of a lot of people here, the dirtyness, the fact that everyone around you constantly hassles you and tries to make money off of you.
traveling in a third world country can definitely be rough, and sometimes it can be really difficult to deal w/ the people. especially in marrakech, we found that a lot of the people we interacted w/ were very unfriendly, unhelpful, and really seemed like all that they wished was that we a) buy something from them and then b) get the hell out fo their country. we really got the feeling that although a lot of these people depended on tourism, they really had great disdain for tourists. also, the tactics that a lot of people her use to make their living can be really unnerving. we’ve been lied to, had people practically refuse to give us our change when we paid for somehting, had cab drivers refuse to turn on the meter, had people grab at us, had people follow us unrelentingly, etc etc. on one hand, i understand that a lot of moroccans are very poor and need any extra few dirhams to get by, and i also understand that if some loroccan use aggresive tactics, then a lot of others must as well in order to compete, but it still can make life here incredibly frustrating and sometimes infuriating. at any moment, we dont know if the person we’re talking to will help us or figure out a way to screw us over.
for instance, the following day, we went to the bus station ( after a meal at mcdonalds, heh, i felt so guilty eating there, but i had to take a break from moroccan food!) and after purchasing tickets for the bus, we walked over to the bus. there was a bunch of guys standing by the bus and they told us that we couldnt take our packs on board and that we had to give our packs to them to tie to the roof of the bus. uh-oh. now, these packs contain every thing we own right now, and we really didnt want to give them up. how can we know if these guys really work for the bus if they have no badges etc?? but the guys insisted, and we handed over the packs. afte taking our packs, the guy demands 10 dirham each for putting our packs away. huh?? the bus tickets were only 30 dirham, and he’s trying to charge us anotherd third of the price, just so we can bring our bags? begrudgingly, i hand him a 50, and then instead of giving me 30 in change, he just gives me 20 and starts to walk away!!!! i ask him for the rest of it, and he just keeps playing dumb, no matter how many times i repeat that i gave him 50 and if the cost is 20, he owes me 30 back. finally after a while of arguing, he just hands me another 10. no “oops sorry i miscounted” or anything. nothing but a glare. ugh!
yeah, that’s a real minor incident, and we did get our bags returned safely in the end, but when stuff like this happens constantly throughout the day, it’s tough to keep upbeat. luckily we’ve been able to ignore it most fo the time, and other than the day that i got really sick, i haven’t let it get me down.