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Published: January 3rd 2019
Marrakech was a 7 hour train ride from Fes and is one of major stops for tourists, though I'm not quite sure it lives up to its hype. Another imperial city, it is also a mix-up of various cultures and has your typical sites; mosques, medinas, palaces (the King has many across the country) and gardens. This city never stops - motorbikes and vehicles clog up the narrow streets and the honking and sound of the motors quickly grow exhausting.
We took a day trip to Ouarzazate (Where-zeh-za-tee), the Hollywood of Morocco. We first traveled through the Atlas Mountains for a few hours, seeing some beautiful scenery. We then stopped of at Ait Ben Haddou, an earthen village along a former caravan route, where we were forced to use a local guide to see the location of several movie scenes have been filmed there from such films as Gladiator, the Jewel of the Nile, the Mummy and more. This was a fun stop and worth the trip. However, don't believe the pictures, nor the hype, of Ouarzazate. The beautiful imagery you'll pull up in a google search hides the fact that the complex is surrounded by shops and other buildings
around it. This is one of the few sites I've been too where I would tell you not to waste your time as far as a day trip from Marrakech. For the vast majority of tourists, the reason to come here is if you are going on a desert trip in the Sahara. Otherwise, you'll drive over 8 hours in one day to come here and walk around shops for 1 hour, no more.
It was a long day of travel, and at least we saw quite a bit of the country and the interesting site of Ait Ben Haddou. The next day was Christmas and we were looking forward to some rest and spending our last free day together before heading back to the capital and on home. I went out that day searching for the medina and post office and ran into a situation that people need to be aware of. In Morocco, the medinas are incredibly confusing to get through. I would say without GPS, a good map and/or guidance, the average tourist isn't going to get out of there by themselves. A young man stated he would help me find my way out, I said
no-thank you. He promised I would not have to pay him, I said no-thank you. He kept walking with me though, and eventually we started talking - again, no money. We finally almost made it out (after about 4-5 minutes of walking) and he looks around to make sure no one is around, then gets in my face and tells me I need to pay him. I pulled out about 15 durham, which seemed fair enough. He tells me he needs 100 dirhams (about 10$) and he won't stop telling me that is what he deserves. I wasn't physically afraid of him, that wasn't the issue - the issue was I knew better (had been told straight up to not trust him by a stranger tourist)- and I still got myself into that position where if he was violent, he could of taken everything from me. I eventually just walked away, in tears because I'm an idiot, but overall ok.
I don't put this in here to worry anyone, but you have got to be aware of what can happen out on the road. If you are in Morocco, if someone offers to help you, you are expected to
pay them even if they tell you they will not charge you. Agree on a price beforehand or be prepared for them to be angry with you.
The next day we went back to Casablanca and enjoyed a night at the Ibis before heading out the next day for our destinations. Overall, the trip was well worth it because I got to spend time with Kim!
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