I was walking in the market, weaving my way through a crowd of people which consisted of mostly of men, with some women peppered in. I was trying to scurry through the crowd, wearing my sunglasses to avoid noticeable eye contact while also keeping my eyes towards the ground half the time, looking out for my step along the dirt path. I was inhaling the aroma of spices which I could not name, while listening for motor bikes and comments directed towards me in general. When someone would yell something my way, I would pretend that I didn't hear them and then would proceed to continue swiftly walking. It was my first couple of hours in Morocco, my first time in a non-western type culture, and I was feeling overwhelmed with figuring out how to navigate it. I was too excited to stay in the hostel and relax after travelling here, knowing that I would be here for months.
I made my way through the busy part of the medina, and one older man had called out to me, ”Espanol? Frances? English?", he said. I thought to myself, “Are the people prepared to communicate in all those languages?” He spoke brilliant English, and asked where I was from. By this point, I started saying "America" more commonly than I did the "United States", which is a term I adopted to delineate an ethnocentric vernacular that the United States took on when only being one country in North and South "America". Using the term America to describe the United States seems to be more recognized on this side of the hemisphere, however. Some people look puzzled whenever I say the United States. I do not really have the energy to explain why I would say the United States instead of America, though I have a feeling a may get in somewhat of a habit of saying “America” on this side of the hemisphere. When I say America, people then usually proceed to ask where in America, as took place in this conversation with the older man. When I say Colorado and people respond with a nod and a, "Ah, oh, COLORADO...", it takes me by surprise how people are familiar with the many states in the U.S. Now, however, or at least here in Marrakesh, I have a growing skepticism that surrounds whether if people are actually familiar with what Colorado is. It doesn't seem like such well known place that I would expect, like New York or California. It seems that many of the hagglers are aiming to connect or draw you in as well, so I feel a little distrusting from the start.
After talking with the man for a little bit, he brought up the leather market. I had read about this online, how the Berbers hand-made leather goods in big basins. He called out towards a guy and probably said something to the effect of "Bring her there, no charge". The guy and I walked towards the leather basins, and along the way we stopped by a mosque and he showed me different buildings, calling me sister as we weaved through the many passageways and random turns that this city held. I wonder what it would be like to grow up here, learning the maze of the lines of walls and shops as a child. I looked over at the man next to me, he looked incredibly skinny, and didn't look like a teenager but if he was closer to my age I wouldn't have noticed given his tiny frame and weight. He started to tell me about the leather basins, how the people are from the Atlas Mountains and they come from the city to I started to grow suspicious that this was a guide who was going to ask for money, and I said, "No cost right?" "No, no cost sister."
Thank you for visiting! This is my personal blog, where I write about social justice, geography, culture, and my own encounters and reflections from around the world.