Going to Morocco alone and spending there almost a month was not an easy decision at all. Although it seemed to be easy to buy the flight ticket and be happy with the thought of an other adventure, as I got closer and closer to the date of departure, I felt more and more unsure. After all what you hear about arabic countries and the islam religion in the European media, most people are concerned to go to a place like that. And almost all of my friends and relatives were strongly against my idea; "you're crazy that you want to go there. Those people are dangerous, they will rob you, hurt you, rape you. You're crazy!" Yes, maybe I was crazy to step out of my comfort zone inspite of all these comments and finally this turned out to be the right decision. But before telling you anything, it is important to state that you should gather information about the place before going there, especially if it's another culture. You should know what to expect and have a general overview in order not to be surprised on locals' attitudes and not to behave in a way that would be surpising for them.
In this post I would like to give a kind of summing-up about the people and places of Morocco. The most outstanding thing about Moroccans was their kindness and generosity. It was present from the moment I got on the plane still in Budapest, until the last moment of leaving the country. When I sat down on my seat on the plane, an American guy was sitting next to me, by the window. Soon a Moroccan guy came, who originally had the seat by the window. A European reaction would have been to swap seats, so that everybody would sit where their ticket says, but the Moroccan boy said with a smile "don't worry, stay there. You're a guest in my country so you should see the landscape while landing in Marrakesh." Upon arrival every person whom I met said "welcome to Morocco!" and they really meant it. I could see in their eyes that they were really happy that I chose their country as my destination. Everywhere I went, the taxi driver, the shopkeeper, the teachers at the school I volunteerd for, kids on the street, and every random person we talked to in the city said "welcome to Morocco! Welcome to my country!" They are also very generous people, for me in a surprising way. In Europe it is quite unusual to have people share their food with you and invite you to their home if you are not super close friends. In Morocco, totally unknown people invited me to have tea with them in the hammam, students of the school whom I haven't even talked to shared their food with me and I got invitations from people whom I only knew for a couple of days. My first thought was "why do you treat me this way if I haven't done any special good to you?" But later I thought "yes, people CAN behave this way as well and a human being actually SHOULD treat another human being this way." Moroccan people are truly an exemplary nation of this. But if we're talking about behaving, I should mention some aspects of public behaviour that I observed during my stay. First of all, Moroccans are more humble in their appearance because of religious reasons, so one should avoid too short or too revealing clothing. I didn't have problems with this since I was there in january and you still need a sweater or a jacket and long jeans there but you should try to wear something long-sleeved during the hotter period as well. It is not only for respecting the locals but also for escaping the unwanted stares, especially if you're a woman. by the way, foreign women can get plenty of stares out on the streets but in the wast majority of the cases these stares are totally harmless. Local guys look at you because you're different and an unusual spectacle for them and not for any other reason. They might talk to you saying "Hi, how are you?"(mostly in French, this is the 2nd language in the country and most Moroccans speak it fluently or very good) The best is to simply ignore them and walk on decidedly but if you're a group of people or those are children who say this to you, you can answer them and have a little chat. Moroccans are an open nation, talking on the streets even with unknown people is natural to them. Putting a scarf on your head, covering your hair is also a ggod idea, especially in the countryside, since in bigger cities people are used to tourist. Another good thing to know is about night-outs. For women alone I wouldn't recommend it. Grab a guy or go with a group of people! Firstly it's not because of safety issues. Safety is quite okay in Morocco. As long as you don't do things that your common sense tells you not to do, you should't be worried about safety. Night-outs are for another reason; it is more culture-based, a well-educated, good girl simply doesn't spend nights outside of the house, therefore if you do so, you might be seen as a girl working on a night-shift, if you know what I mean. Otherwise, people are open, friendly, incredibly kind and take a good care of their visitors. To get to know their thoughts, culture and way of life, chatting with the students of the language school was indispesable. I volunteered at an afternoon language academy and had the chance to talk with Moroccans from the age of 6 until the age of mid 50, with women and men from different backgrounds, about many different topics such as friendship, travelling, internet, superstitions, dreams, dating, relationships and religion. Some of these talks had great impact on me and helped me a lot in shaping a real image of Moroccan culture.
The country is very particular. Being the first African country I had seen, it seemed to me very different from what I'm used to. The arquitecture is so impressive with all its simmetry, colors and shapes. There are cities that are entirely white, entirely red or entirely blue. Palm trees and olive trees are everywhere and the streets always smell special kinds of spices. Moroccan cusine is the number one for me so far, with so many spicy, special dishes. If you go, you have to eat local streetfood! It's also very cheap, actually so cheap that I couldn't want to believe the prices at the beginning. And what you need to know: most of the things don't have an exact price. you have to bargain for everything, except for some fancy restaurants and supermarkets. Also, even in some restaurants you can bargain and vendors love to do it. Cities are generally clean; you can see more dirt at the city borders or at the medina, which is the market place and can be considered as a separate small city. There are thousands of people walking on their narrow streets each day, so they get dirty easily but Moroccans care much for cleanliness, so in the early morning everything is tidied up. Morocco is a welcoming country with a lot to offer. Locals are always proud to show you their food, their sceneries and their customs, and in general, they are proud to have you there.