I had started school on Monday, and it felt like I had gotten nothing done in comparison to what I needed to get done. The hostel was a fantastic place for socializing, but not so much for getting work done. Music had been blasting for hours too, and I had a headache to go along with my distraction. I sat down at a table, and told this girl from New York that I was probably going to get lunch and head over to a café if she wanted to join. She looked at her computer while sitting at the table, “Yeah, I’ll do that, I’ve come to terms that it is going to be pretty noisy here.
As we walked over to a restaurant nearby, with plates of tagine chicken and couscous costing about 30 dihrams. It amazes me how inexpensive things are here. I dropped a container of salt and she picked it up and tossed salt over her shoulder as we began to eat “At this point I’m fed up. Fed up with people taking advantage of me and my kindness, Sick of being treated like a walking ATM. Usually I cover up a little more, but fuck it, you caught me on my rebel day”. She was wearing a loose fitting tank top and her black bra was visible from the sides. The attention varied, from “Oh shukran, thank you thank you, so sexy”, to “May God save you”.
New York and I decided to get some henna done, and I watched her bargain the price. She ended up paying 15 dihrams less than I did for a black henna tattoo (more expensive than brown), but I let it go because of how inexpensive it was already. I felt like I was pushing too much to go lower, but they were also pushing a lot to go higher. I compared it to a time when I was at the Taste of Colorado festival, and paid $15 for a henna maybe 1/6th of the size of the U.S. equivalent of $6 that I paid in Marrakech. New York also brought it to my attention that I could keep on comparing Moroccan Dihrams and prices to U.S. dollars, but that we were in Morocco, not the United States. Things are cheap here, so we should be paying the cheap prices, which are in fact regular here. Tourists do not get the same prices though.
New York and I sat down for a little bit near the henna artists, and waited for our henna to sit for a little. This was difficult because it was so hot that our arms were sweating, and the henna would slightly bleed. The lady who had done New York’s henna walked over and grabbed an older white lady and brought her over. I wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on with them, but then the lady asked for 600dihrams for her henna work. The woman was livid, which was clearly noticible as she yelled in a frantic English accent, “600 dihrams, this looks horrible! Can you believe it?” To be fair, 600 is ridiculous, and it did look pretty bad. She walked away and from a distance it seemed that she had a 100dihram bill in her hand. The henna lady got in her face and forcefully pulled the bill out of the other lady’s hand.
Walking around with New York that day brought another reference point as to how people handle the haggling. She gave people attention accompanied with an annoyed tone, once they started to haggle her. “No, just no, go away!”, she would emphasize in a drawn out tone. This contrast reminded me of the couple that I had met on my first day in Marrakech. That example of how to be graceful about haggling will stick with me. It is not always a direct personal attack; this is the culture of the Medina. This is what people have been shown how to do through example, and it probably does work in many instances. The Londoners from earlier had responded with shy smiles and some playful laughs, this woman with hysteria.
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.