Sunday, October 14, 2007

And... back in Marrakech again!

What an international jet-set life I seem to lead these days! We had a late flight back last night, which gave us a full day in Paris. Just as well, as before we headed out to the cemetery for our picnic, we checked one last online resource for accommodation and found something which seemed pretty perfect in print and was even more perfect in person when we went to see it in the afternoon! Wish us luck!

The flight was a slightly late one, and I got to spend the journey doing that oh-so-undignified head-bobbing thing that you smirk at when you see other people doing it on trains and planes as they fall asleep. It was just coming up to midnight (Marrakech time, 2am Paris time) when we landed and got straight onto the airport bus and watched the hundreds of people pouring out of the airport and getting into rows with taxi drivers instead of just joining us on board.

For those of you who are planning trips to Marrakech, and I know that some of you are, DO consider getting the airport bus into town - it leaves every hour, on the hour and is only 20DH each (30DH if you get a return ticket) and does the circuit of all the big hotels before ending up at the Djemma el Fna - just tell the driver where you are staying and he will tell you if the bus will take you there. It is *such* a pleasure NOT to start a stay in Marrakech with a blazing row with a taxi driver, followed by the disgruntled feeling that you were still probably ripped off. There is no reason on earth why a petit taxi should cost a penny more than 60DH (well, really about 20DH but you haven't a hope of getting them down that low) from the airport, or a grand taxi more than 100DH (again, it should probably be even less).

Arriving alone one time I told the grand taxi drivers that my top price was 50DH (they wanted a hilarious 150DH) but that I was equally content to wait the 30 minutes for the 20DH bus. They glowered at me but a few moments later grumpily picked up my bags and loaded them into a car without any explanation to me at all. This was provided by the presence of two other solo travellers sitting in the car already, who had clearly refused to pay less than 50DH each either. As grand taxis operated rather like minature buses, this was quite acceptable and certainly saved me 30 minutes of sitting on a kerb on a very hot night waiting for a bus. Westerners are accustomed to instant gratification when it comes to any kind of transaction (except perhaps ebay...) but life in Morocco becomes a lot easier when you learn to just state what you want and what you will pay for it and then wait patiently and politely. Even though this will naturally be of no avail if your price is genuinely too low, it will get you a lot further than fussing and getting stressed.

And seeing as I am in a "how to handle Marrakech" mood, let me say it again, DO NOT GIVE MONEY, CHOCOLATE OR ANYTHING ELSE AT ALL TO CHILDREN HERE. It teaches them contempt for their families, for working for a living, for honesty and exposes them to exploitation and abuse. I know my readers are not here for a lecture on how to conduct themselves in the developing world, but this gets to me so much. If you want to give money to the children you see begging in Morocco, please give it to a registered charity which knows how to get the money to right right places, instead of contributing to the problem yourself as I see people doing every day here.

and while we're at it...


Mc Vickers said...

I love Morocco. I was there several times but I am quite worry about the situation in the country because of the terrorism and the political situation. Please can you reply me through my blog:

A Thing for Roses said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your sweet comments. Moving to Paris, huh? Would you like to adopt me? I am house-trained and very low maintenance. I am eager to spend some time reading about your adventures.

Best wishes,