|I left Tangier by train the same day I arrived. I took the Marrakesh Express, which is a fine way to travel. I paid extra (about $10 USD) for a "couchette" which is a bunk in a cabin with three other people. The train leaves around 9:30 PM and arrives 12 hours later in Marrakesh. The African countryside was dry and mountainous. There were shepherds with their flocks and expansive homesites with walls built all the way around them, each one resembling a fort. The only thing I could figure was that these building practices were left over habits from the days when lions roamed the land.
When I arrived in Marrakesh the sun was shining. The taxi was a rip off and the hostle was dark and hot. I rented a bike and almost got killed. The snake charmers in the infamous Djemaa el-Fna square were turning their backs on the cobras and slapping them when they wouldn't flatten their backs, it cheapened the experience. And don't you dare take a picture of the square because the nearest "performer" will expect payment. There were 14 and 15 year old boys pimping each other out to old men and I passed by a crowd that had gathered in the square to watch and bet on a fight between 2 kids that couldn't have been more than 12 years old. I was quickly sickened by what I saw. I wasn't even able to enjoy the musicians because their relentless money collectors were on me the moment I stopped to listen.
My new friend May is a Korean who lives in London. She has amazing courage and was traveling in Morocco on her own. May managed to keep a smile on her face despite some very demanding experiences there. On her first day in Marrakesh a guy showed his penis to May. She took it in stride and was able to laugh it off. Her second day in Marrakesh some children threw rocks at her. I think this incident hurt her feelings more than the others. She told me she was afraid of Moroccan children after that experience. May doesn't dress especially flashy according to western standards, but she wore a shirt that had straps over her shoulders on the third day. That was the day a man walked up to her and spit right on her chest in broad daylight. I can only assume he thought he was a vigilante for some sort of God Army and that his actions were somehow justified. I was horrified when May told me of these occurences and I don't know that I could be as forgiving as she was about it.
Marrakesh does have some redeeming qualities though. The palaces there are quite interesting. The 70 meter tall Koutoubia Mosque is a minaret built in the 12th century and said to be one of the three most famous minarets in the world. The ochered, mudbrick ramparts that surround the medina create an ambience of myth and mystery and are home to hundreds of storks. They build their nests and are allowed to stay due to the people's belief that they bring good luck. A stroll through the labyrinth of souqs that extend from the Djemaa el-Fna is quite an experience and if you thought you weren't going to buy anything, think again !!! This oasis has drawn caravans of travelers and traders from across the Sahara for centuries and centuries right into the hands of what are, arguably, the best salesmen in the world. Steady yourself ! And if you're hungry for sheepheads stewed with chickpeas or steamed snails by the dozen, this is the place.
But, all in all, my Moroccan experience was starting to sour. I felt like I'd only met one Moroccan in Morocco, so far, who was straight up (Thanks Rashid from Tangier). Everyone else treated me as if I was wearing a great big well- lit sign over my head which read, "Money tree in full bloom - Come get some !!" I felt as if there was a barrier between me and the people of Morocco which I could not get around and it was starting to exhaust me, so, after a few days, I bought a ticket for a bus to Essaouira on the Atlantic coast.