Hello! I made it to Rabat after a crazy week in Marrakech. It’s the worst place I’ve ever travelled to and I don’t even know where to begin.
About 20 different people had warned me about Morocco before I arrived, so I knew what to expect (or so I thought). I was ready for endless harassment, hostility towards women and a general feeling of unease.
But there is a big difference between hearing stories and thinking you are prepared, to actually experiencing something for yourself.
To be perfectly honest, it was a nightmare. My experience was so bad that I spent my third day glued to my laptop reading similar horror stories and seeing if I could leave sooner than planned.
I’ve been to religious countries before and I’ve seen how the men treat women like shit. In Morocco, I wear baggy clothes that cover all of my skin. I haven’t worn a dab of make-up since I arrived and most days I don’t bother brushing my hair. I do as much as I can to deter the onslaught which takes place every time I step outside.
Marrakech is famous for its souks, which create an overwhelming labyrinth where there are no street signs and every direction looks the same. Inside the maze, there are men everywhere purposely trying to confuse you by telling you that you’re going the wrong way (even if you’re not), so that you pay them to show you the right way out. On top of these scammers are the men who want to bang you, so you’re dealing with literally every single man saying something to you as you walk by.
This translates into around 15-20 sleazy comments A MINUTE about your face or body, men inviting you to have sex with them, men following you, or men trying to touch you (and often succeeding), on top of others trying to lead you astray. Ignoring them often worked but sometimes they got aggressive, calling me a bitch or a whore and some even spat at me! During all of this, you must try to appear confident and not panicked, or they will eat you alive.
On my second evening, it took me 10 minutes to get into the heart of the souks and 75 minutes to get out, after I crumbled as darkness fell and asked a shop owner for help. I didn’t know exactly where I was, but I knew I was in the “bad” end which I’d been told to avoid. I had originally set out to find somewhere to eat, but I went straight back to my hostel and cried instead.
Even the staff at my hostel were pushy, asking me to accompany them to their house every day, constantly barging into my room or running out the front door after me asking where I was going.
I know this post makes me sound like a whingeing, ignorant idiot. I’m obviously no stranger to travelling on my own and I’ve found myself in tough situations before, but Marrakech simply takes the cake. I can’t even remember the last time I cried, and yet I’ve been in tears almost every day here, questioning why I’m travelling at all!
I spoke with other travellers at my hostel, and it seemed that only the ones who were also travelling on their own reported any problems. Everyone else seemed to be having a great old time!
One night, I was heading to one of the market stalls to find something to eat. Four guys had swarmed around me to the point that I couldn’t step in any direction without touching one of them. One nice guy pushed through and told the others to back off. I was immediately suspicious but he assured me that he was married (something they take very seriously here) and just wanted to help me. He kindly made sure no one harassed me all night and walked with me most of the way back to my hostel, without asking for my phone number or anything. It was amazing to see the difference between how I was treated walking on my own versus with a man.
I luckily found a few good cafes that were perfect for single female travellers. I read two novels in six days, which tells you how much time I spent hiding away.
On the plus side, the food was really good and ridiculously cheap. The cafes I went to were touristy places and consequently were expensive by Moroccan standards, but I didn’t care if it meant I could escape the herds.
My favourite meal was at Cafe Clock, which is famous for its camel burger. Naturally, I had to have it.
It was good, but the highlight of the meal was actually the almond milkshake. Ommm.
I can highly recommend Zwin Zwin Cafe, where I had the tagine…
… and enjoyed a nice view.
Roti D’Or was right near my hostel and was always packed, so I thought I’d check it out even though it wasn’t exactly traditional. My enchiladas reminded me of Guatemala – a country that would never betray me!
I also went to the Henna Cafe, which was more expensive than what you’d find in the street but much better quality.
Naturally, I ate there, too. This is their felafel sandwich and yes, the cutlery is served in a shoe.
The foods in the night stalls couldn’t be beaten. All of the food below was €3-4!
My hostel was only €5 a night, which included a pretty good breakfast by hostel standards, as well as unlimited mint tea all day long. It’s a shame about the creepo staff, though…
Aside from the food, the main highlight was my hammam (the middle Eastern version of a steam bath) experience. A one-hour massage, half-hour hammam and one-hour pedicure was only €35!
I saw a few tourist attractions, such as the Majorelle Garden, the Koutoubia Mosque and the Bahia Palace, but the locals constantly trying to scam you really puts a dampener on things.
I didn’t even take that many photos as a) I didn’t want to wave my phone around and risk getting it stolen and b) I never had a quiet moment. I certainly didn’t have the chance to take a photo inside the souks. In the photo below, near the food markets, you can even see a douchelord yelling at me.
Thankfully, Rabat is a bit more chilled. I paid more for a first class train ticket here, so I wouldn’t be pestered so much. The men in Rabat are less aggressive but eyes still follow you everywhere you go.
Unfortunately, there are multiple issues with my homestay/school set-up so I’m now looking at heading to Tetouan in a few weeks. If that also goes tits up, I may just head back to England for a while until I can re-enter the Schengen zone. The good news is I’ve already planned out exactly what I’m going to do during my next visa break, to avoid a mess like this!
Sorry to be a debbie downer, but if there are any single female travellers out there I’d highly advise against going to Marrakech. For me, the positives simply didn’t make up for the negatives. I thought I would still write this post and share my experiences, so someone out there might not have to.
Have you ever been to Marrakech? Have you ever had a bad solo travel experience?