Morocco , the closest it gets to what the concept exotic can possibly represent and this goes from the beautiful and diverse landscape to the extreme opposites found in the way of living, from modern city life to a medieval feel of the medinas and the traditional way of manufacturing and selling goods.
This conflictive picture between the screaming but still secretive desire to be modern and to reach societal evolution that has been achieved by western societies and the belief that traditions and concepts brought through history, cultural influence and religion should be respected and protected are very much present in what can be seen visually as well as in people’s behaviour.
This conflict can also be seen in the Berbers and Arabs kindness, soft heart and hospitality on one hand and on the other the need to grab opportunities to make money presented mainly by tourism and with their avid tradesman skills they will in every possible way try to involve you in their game through a conversation, bring you in to their territory be it their shop or house, offer you mint tea known as berber whisky by the Berbers, talk about other subjects such as their country, your country, they make it very clear that their intention is to be hospitable with you not to sell unless you really want to buy, but they never loose focus and a lot of them will be very disappointed if a transaction or the commitment of a future transaction is not completed at the end of that interaction. This commercial dealings can be extended sometimes to relationship proposal if they believe you as a woman can offer them a better opportunity in life of some sort.
The degree and level of intensity as to how much of a comercial object they see you and how ruthless they can be with inflating prices and grabbing your attention will vary from region to region, as a very general perception I found the north more laid back and the south more aggressive excluding the experiences I had in the southern villages in the mountains where I met some of the sweetest and most hospitable people.
As a long term traveller not a tourist spending holidays my main focus wasn’t to consume and do as many activities as I could in a short period of time but to interact with the culture, absorb their customs, enter their hearts. I found it difficult to distinguish when I should be opening myself to embrace the moment, let it go, be myself and let them in or when I should put my negotiation skills on to manage their expectations and stir them away with their proposals, and the reason why I wanted to be able to differentiate it was also because I respected their motives when commercial too, as I fully sympathise that life here is difficult, money, jobs and food are not plenty, far from it, they are scarce and that is what they do for living or they do whatever they can for living and for a better life prospects, I not only sympathise but I respect their reasons hence why I wanted to manage their expectations not to waste their time with me, in many occasions I managed and the result was a warm feeling consequent from a nice interaction, other times I felt like I have disappointed them and I felt disappointed too and other times more rarely I felt angry when they shamefully tried to rip me off and get very aggressive and full of reason when I questioned it.
So this conflictive feeling of not knowing how to place myself, whether to be nice or genuine or just commercially fierce was a constant question in my head as much as it was in theirs I believe…
I once saw a quote on the internet from a blog that read “Morocco makes me bipolar, I love it and hate it” It made laugh because that describes it in a way although for me the feelings are not so intense as the feeling of not knowing where to place my feelings makes me neither hate or love what I understand to be Morocco but nevertheless find it fascinating and unforgettable!