Leaving Zawiya was just as hard, if not more difficult than leaving Rabat. Once we packed up our bags and said our final goodbyes to the village of Zawiya we headed out on a very long road to Marrakech.
The second our bus pulled into Marrakech we could tell it was very different from any other city we had visited. The roads were wide, the city was bustling and there were tourists EVERYWHERE. People were dressed in short-shorts, crop tops, tank-tops and every type of clothing that we had been steering away from for the last month. Everywhere we went people were speaking European languages and the amount of Darija that was being spoken was significantly reduced.
Additionally, the amount of harassment that we got seemed to also go right up. Everywhere we went people wanted us to buy things, and everywhere we went people would follow you for long distances trying to sell you their products. If you didn’t buy what they were trying to sell they would get aggressive, and the amount of racial comments and slurs was also a lot higher. Although not every interaction was a negative one, the overall experience wasn’t quite as nice as in Rabat, Fez or even Casablanca.
I think that because Marrakech is such a large tourist area, the shopkeepers are used to tourists quickly agreeing to their prices. However, we knew better than to accept their prices right away. In Marrakech (unlike in Rabat) we were able to get the price down to almost 75% off of starting prices, which just shows how high shopkeepers will inflate their prices for tourists, and how much more lenient they are with people who are aware of their culture (i.e. we were negotiating largely in Darija).
Ultimately, after spending a month immersed in Moroccan culture and living with the people of Morocco, in the one day that we were really toasts, I decided pretty quickly that I didn’t enjoy it. The way people treat you, the overall environment and the way you experience the culture is completely different when you’re one with the Moroccan people versus when you’re a capitalistic (and often ignorant) tourist.