Bad Experience with Moroccan People- Can You Help Me Reconcile My Feelings?
Replies: 52 - Last Post: Oct 13, 2012 1:28 AM Last Post By: hp2010
Oct 9, 2010 6:26 AM
Bad Experience with Moroccan People- Can You Help Me Reconcile My Feelings?Hi.
We just got back from our 2 week tour to Morocco, and I have to say, my husband and I were extremely disappointed in the way we were treated by the people. Other than the tour guides, we found the local people to be very dishonest, opportunistic, and sometimes downright hostile. We went there to experience the culture, the scenery. We are not big consumers, so we bought a few small things, but not much. Just a couple souvenirs. However, we were hassled constantly by merchants. They would be very friendly, and as soon as we expressed a polite, "La, Shukran" to them, they would immediately dismiss us or give us hateful attitudes. The Berber people certainly seemed more friendly. But, most of the people we came across clearly saw us as nothing but walking money bags. We are not wealthy by any means, according to Western standards, and I understand that we must appear rich to many Moroccans since we can afford to travel at all, but we had to just about break the bank to go on the trip. It's not like we have tons of cash sitting around. I can understand that people would want to sell their wares to us. They are just trying to make a living, but I got very much a feeling that many of the people felt entitled to our money. We gave food/money to people who looked really down and out, but I certainly couldn't buy something from everyone, or give money to everyone. This was the first time we had ever been to a developing country, so maybe that is why we were so taken aback. But, I just don't understand why so many people were so hateful. I felt bad for some of the people. Many of the people seemed to be living well- well fed, housed. We possibly may have bought a couple more things from merchants, but we were so agitated about the constant deception (for example, telling us they only have certain higher priced items on the menus, when it was not true as they later offered it to others; or telling us the restaurant across from the hotel is closed to encourage us to eat in the hotel restaurant, plus many other similar instances) and the hostility that we didn't want to spend any more of our money there. Can someone help me to understand their attitudes a little better? I was concerned that I give a fair price for an item I had to haggle for, and I thought, you know- why am I worried about being sensitive to the merchant- he would fleece me in a second without a moment's hesitation?
Oct 9, 2010 7:19 AM
Oct 9, 2010 7:35 AM
Oct 9, 2010 7:37 AM
3Hi, it sounds like you were pretty shaken by your experiences.
However, you don't tell us which towns you visited and where you experienced this.
In certain terms, you have just about summed up the mindset of the average moroccan trader's attitudes with tourists..... get what you can, when you can, cos soon they will be gone.
However, from your description you seem to have had a constant barrage. Though i suspect that it was not.
Sometimes, when you have a few bad experiences, this can change your approach and attitude and make you slightly paranoid. This can show in your stance and the way you handle things.
As a non Arabic speaker, you polite La Shukran may have come across in a different way? it is possible.
Everyone has a different experience, and it is hope that most have a positive experience.
Were you with a guide on your 2 week tour?
Did you have a nice flashy 4x4?
Think about these things, about the impression that you could have made on these people before they even met you.
The guide could have been working with the hotel, the traders etc for some sort of comission or kickback.
Essentially, there are lots of factors to know in order to psychoanalyze your experiences.
Just try to remember the good times and put it all behind you.
Sounds like you also done some good whilst you were there.... helping people who asked for food etc.
I always have a saying: always show that you are the better person.
Sounds like you did this, if your report is 100 percent correct. SO, you have nothing to worry about.
Oct 9, 2010 7:48 AM
4'Wallet on legs' applies to many countries.
Get away from the well trodden tourist trail and you will find a different Morocco.
Oct 9, 2010 8:00 AM
5I can go to Heahtrow airport in London and get rippd of in any of the cafes1 it is just done differently than here in Morocco.
One needs to know a few basic principles in any cross cutlural setting and here one is perfectly physically safe to begin with. I have an attitude of being entertained mostly and laugh lots....shrug my shoulders and move on....
Don't sweat the small stuff...I don't buy much and I have ben here long enough now to live as a local and I like that!
i run into imposters all the time who want to befriend me for their devious wants and needs; naming their garbage back to them shocks them that I know what they are up to!
They are not so resoursful at the end of the day but have some conning skils that work for them.
I see tourists who treat locals as 'special' and this is such a mistake for they are not...they are human beings like the rest of us doing the best that they can to exist and they don't miss opportunities!! smae as anywhere else; maybe packaged a little differently!
Oct 9, 2010 8:00 AM
Oct 9, 2010 8:19 AM
8I vote India next.
First time in the Developing World often feels this way. Successful travelers usually develop adaptations which make it first tolerable, then eventually fun. It's not just that your attitude about what's going on shifts (for example, I myself am generally vastly amused by attempted ripoffs and extortion by uniformed officials), but that as your attitude shifts, so does theirs. While you, the OP, suffer all sorts of predatory merchants there's another tourist 50 feet from you who's hardly being hassled at all. Your developmental task is to transform yourself into something like that other tourist.
Plus, as Tim says, you can get away from the main tourist track a bit if you want a better experience. Often, the response to being hassled is to withdraw into the "safety" of the tourist mainstream, but more fulfilling experiences are actually located elsewhere.
And quit giving so freely to beggars; this merely serves to attract more predators, who sense a soft touch. Watch what local people do; don't give to the people who prey on tourist sensibilities, but give occasional coins to the people who are patronized by locals.
Hope that helps.
Oct 9, 2010 9:22 AM
9I was in Morocco a couple of weeks ago and was surpised that at the relatively little hassle i had. I was in Fes, Chefchaouen and Meknes and did not have any problems.
Yes, a lot of people will try and talk to you; to take you places, show you something, try to get you to buy something, but never really that pushy. I did find myself ignoring people after a while in Fes and Meknes, but in Chefchaouen where life is a lot more calm, i generally would stop and chat for a bit.
I think a lot is dependant upon who you are, I am a single 23 yr old male, and am probably less of a target for hassle to buy things; i would imagine older couples would encounter a lot more of this.
I would definatley recommend Morocco to anybody and if anybody was put off going by the talk of lots of hassle i would certainly recommend that they go and will probably find it is not as bad as they thought it would be.
Oct 9, 2010 12:45 PM
10"This was the first time we had been to a developing country" Yes it is the norm to be constantly hassled in developing countries and you learn to live with it or not travel there. I travel to South East Asia frequently and Vietnam is the worst for aggressive hassling so much that I prefer to travel to other countries in the region despite the obvious beauty of that country.
Oct 9, 2010 1:03 PM
Oct 9, 2010 3:05 PM
12It's true, I keep saying on here, get out of Marrakesh/Essouria, whilst others on here are 'pro' the most touristy places.
You're not Morrocan so you can expect the consequences but a second visit should make it a lot smoother
Oct 9, 2010 4:22 PM
Oct 9, 2010 10:45 PM
14Poverty does this. While people may make enough so they can feed their kids and look well-fed, poverty is also a state of mind. Imagine feeling trapped by your circumstances. Imagine sitting in that little booth seven days a week from early till late. Every day. Many tourists haven't the slightest idea that the culture of bargaining/haggling is largely a social interaction. Done with good humour and respect, both sides come away uplifted. Done with only besting the other for money--well, where's the humanity in that?
The amazing thing to me is the wonderful attitudes you find despite the grinding misery for so many people--if you can look past the really damaged ones. On balance, in my experience, the vast majority of Moroccans offer a sterling example of coping with their difficulties with immense dignity. Perhaps you met too many of the other kind. There are many lessons to be learned, not the least of which is to be aware of your own blessings. If you've encountered some reflections of misery, may compassion and kindness be your own alternative response..
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