Africa · Morocco

The circus that is Marrakesh

Marrakesh is a bit rough, that’s true. Especially for solo female travelers.

Touts, pickpockets, catcalls abound in the medina or old city. It’s a way of life and female travelers get harassed on a daily basis

“Hello beautiful!”
“Where you from?”
“Where are you going? I walk with you.”
“Kamusta ka?” (They can guess I’m Filipina)

It’s an endless game that if you pay attention to them, you’ll lose and you’ll never enjoy your visit. 

It’s like a hobby for some men to scare women so I believe it’s my job to NOT show them I’m scared (even if I am).

The best advice I’ve received and I use is this: JUST IGNORE THEM. As simple as that.
But what gets on my nerves is when a man starts following you and doesn’t leave you alone. They get too close and it gets creepy. 

That’s why I always wear my snake bracelet that doubles as an “eye poker”. I always keep a pen in my bag. I also took basic self-defense classes many years ago before I traveled solo.

I can also run for my life.

On top of this, there’s the basic common sense to not walk alone at night, find companions at your hostel, never keep eyes off your drink, activate friend tracker on iPhone, etc.

Since I’ve arrived in Marrakech, I’ve been followed 3 different times. Twice at the big square that was crowded with thousands of people, once in an alley. And each time, I just faced the man, faked bravery and said:

“If YOU don’t LEAVE me alone RIGHT NOW, I’m going to scream “POLICE”. Leave. NOW.”
It works like magic. They back off right away.

Because the police/military are everywhere in Marrakesh. I think security has been tightened since the 2011 bombing of Argana Cafe (just ate there, btw. Awful food). There are police checks on the road. They have metal detectors at mall entrances.

Do I get scared? Of course I do, but I try not to show it. I think fear will just put me in a worse situation.

And you know what this place reminds me of? 

It reminds me of Manila….

…And every other city that’s full of contrasts and extremes, that you know it’s best to not believe everything you read or hear…until you experience it yourself.

Will I ever stop going to Manila? No, never.

Do I like Marrakesh? Yes and I’m already thinking of coming back.

Now, excuse me as I have to go and check out the cobras at the big square.

Travel date: Oct-Nov 2016


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