Wandering Eyes…

Posted by on 22, Apr 2015 in 2015 - Iberia and Morocco, Morocco, Taffy

Wandering Eyes…

Being a western women in an Islamic country – albeit a very relaxed one – is like walking around with a huge flashing arrow above your head wherever you go. Walk past the local cafes and every single man in it (and generally there are no women) will follow you with their eyes and the whole cafe looks like it’s watching a slow motion tennis match. Talk to a man and their eyes often just go up and down Linda like they’re watching a lift, I’m not sure they’d be able to pick Linda out in an identity parade if they could only see faces, though the big flashing arrow might give it away.  

Linda always covers up from neck to ankle in towns and sometimes even wears a head scarf so it’s not like she’s half naked. But believe it or not the attitude here is much better than on our Egypt trip. The men are polite, don’t grab Linda round the shoulders to try to get her into their shops, and try their hardest to behave in a welcoming manor. They just need to work on their eyes. I’ve been offered 50,000 camels for Linda which I’m tempted to accept as I’d imagine a week with Linda for a Muslim and they’d be offering me another 50,000 to take her back once they realised she was actually the boss and not them!

Linda has the last laugh though and has a mean streak in her that is ably fuelled by the wandering eyes.   Get in a shop and the bartering starts and she’s hard as nails, starting at half the price the vendor wants and never increasing until they give in. I’m useless at it so leave this to her and often get told off by a Linda as I tend to be on the vendors side! Wimp!  

The price of what I would call “Pier shop crap” (after the now defunct Pier shop in Norwich that sold all sorts of ethnic handmade  Rubbish from around the world ‎at exhoribitant prices) is decided by the vendor on the spot.   So if you’re arriving in a coach with a big Nikon slung round your neck and a thick American accent yelling “Hi y’all!” as you walk in you’ll pay far more than rolling up on a tandem with “The Negotiator” as a passenger.‎

We’ve not actually bought too much ‎so far and I think Linda’s reputation is preceding us as the shop vendors vanish or the shops ‎ seem to shut up as we approach. Maybe it’s just coincidence. I’d imagine by the time we get to  Marakesh ‎the whole place will be bordered up and the army will divert us back to Tangier. 

We’ve not stayed at a Campsite with anyone else on it for the last 6 stops as people seem to be not coming to this area despite its amazing beauty. Campsites and hotels are empty and business is suffering. According to one of the locals, “It’s not the terrorists who are scaring people away, it’s the media”.

We felt a bit apprehensive when we arrived at Zagora, a garrison town near the Algerian border, as on the way down some Germans told us that their government advised against travel here. But once we arrived and wandered around the town and met numerous locals we’ve felt really relaxed, comfortable and secure. The Islam here is very different to what you see in the news. There are very few if any men at all with beards (though we have seen a German father Christmas on holiday)  many women dress brightly and in the towns there are few women dressed in black and the trade in Alcohol appears to be secretive but brisk judging by the number of men who ask us for beer or wine, or tell us they can get us some. Why the two groups don’t get together I don’t know. Men happily tell us that they are Muslim but drink and smoke even though they shouldn’t and know it. Even the call to prayer is short and to the point and we hardly notice it whereas in Egypt it seemed to go on for ages and be an attempt to out do the nearest Mosque. And lastly the locals repeatedly tell us they are more European and you can, to an extent, see what they mean, the towns have had huge amounts spent on their high streets. Large parks, trees, nice pavements, impressive state buildings and wide boulevards are the order of the day, contrasting with the mud built houses and dirt tracks  in the countryside that once abandoned just melt back into the desert.

It’s definitely an up and coming country and one of our all time favourites (so far!)

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