About Morocco can be told many various stories, but I want to summarize some different aspects, which I personally faced during my short trip there. They can better represent some shades of the country and help a little bit to imagine what to expect in reality.
1) One of the most spectacular things for me in Fez were tea salons. Imagine numbers of men, sitting outside cafes and drinking tea or coffee. In the morning or in the evening view is the same. They are sitting here and reading newspapers, speaking with each other or just silently looking at far. Like the symbolic art performance representing country’s culture. As Morocco is a Muslim country, usually you won’t see any women sitting together with men in these tea salons.
2) You have chosen something nice in souk of Medina, you negotiated and finally paid money. But afterwards some options are available. Or they can ask you for more, for example, “Do you have any presents for my wife? Lipstick, pen, at least something?”, or give you an extra present, showing that they are thankful for shopping you made in their place, for example, green lipstick.
3) Attention from Moroccan men can be shown in very unique way. For example, they can offer you their own take away cup full of coffee right there in the street.
4) Incredibly sweet, but super delicious mint tea is Morocco’s business card. You can order it in absolutely everywhere. Moreover, it’s a sign of hospitality. Wherever you will go, expect mint tea to be offered.
5) Negotiate, negotiate and once again negotiate about prices. When you are planning to buy something in Medina, be prepared to lower the prices at least three times from the first one which was offered by the seller. It’s incredible, but I bought a carpet in Meknes (let’s forget the fact that I could take on a plane only a hand luggage…) after lowering the price four times. If speaking frankly, I thought I made not that bad deal, but later I found out that I could easily offer eight times lower price than the carpets’ seller said to me firstly. Another thing is that negotiation for locals is like a game. And, they do like it. So have a nice playing!
6) You live in Morocco, have huge home and have one spare room? So open a restaurant there! We had a possibility to get lunch in such kind of place. You can read about it more in my previous story named “When people open a restaurant just in one room of their own home“. Really interesting experience.
7) Morocco is full of cats and only few dogs you can see in the streets. It is because due to their religion Muslims see dogs as most impure, dirty animals.
8) To take a taxi in Morocco sometimes can be a big challenge. And the main reason is that they are against using the taximeters. Usually drivers say the fixed price, which is much higher than really it supposed to be. From our experience we can tell that only 1 driver from 10 agreed to give his service with taximeter turned on. You want price difference? Fixed offered price was 20 dirhams, but with taximeter turned on we paid four times less.
9) Want to look closer, I literally mean closer, at life of locals? So go somewhere with a “Grand Taxi”. It’s just a regular car, mainly 30-40 years old Mercedes, but legally it is allowed to take more passengers inside: three sit in front, where two of them on the passenger’s seat, and four at the back. So getting closer is guaranteed. “Grand Taxis” are usually used as city-to-city transport, so this intimacy you can expect to have for a longer time.
10) Timetables of city buses do not exist. When you are going from Fez airport to city center or the opposite, look for bus No.16. Really cheap, 3.5 dirhams one way, instead of airport shuttle bus, which costs 20 dirhams. Only one thing that you never know when it goes. So always give enough time for your trip to or from the airport.
11) In Fez airport security check was “new wave” I should say: when our personal belongings were being scanned, responsible person was looking to the other side and yawning, as well people in front of me were allowed to take bottle of 500ml, when allowance of liquids is only 100 ml per item.