1. Money talks. There is nothing that a big enough bribe won’t get you.
2. So do good looks. Traveling with an attractive girl who smiles a lot will save you loads of time and money.
3. So does an American passport. If you’re not that attractive and a man is nice to you, he is trying to a) steal your passport, or b) convince you to marry him so he can get an American passport.
4. Glamour is next to godliness. Never, ever leave your room in sweatpants. It’s disrespectful to dress as if you don’t care what other people think.
5. Women can show skin, but prepare to be ogled. Lots of progressive Moroccans wear Western clothing, but any displays of cleavage, shoulders, or even calves will undoubtedly garner attention.
6. All men are pigs. Rules #2, #4 and #5 being said, if a man so much as looks your way unsolicited, you have every right to call him a donkey and insult his mother.
7. All women can belly dance. It’s in their blood, those lucky vixens.
8. All Moroccans can play drums. They grow up with the rhythm and it stays inside them.
9. Casablanca is a nice movie and a decent beer, but not a tourist destination. It sounds romantic, but in reality the city of white houses has a dark black cloud of smog permanently floating above it. Skip it and go to Marrakech.
10. Lying on a wet tile floor while a topless women dumps buckets of water over you is a spa treatment. It’s called a hammam, and gross as it sounds, no visit to Morocco is complete without a trip to one.
11. Traffic rules are made to be broken. It is customary to stop just under the traffic light, rather than in front of it. If you try to stop any earlier, you will be honked off the road.
12. Don’t enter a shop or approach a stand until you know what you want and what you will pay for it. Moroccan vendors are aggressive, and they speak English quite impressively – at the very least, they all know how to say “What will you buy?” and “How about this one?”
13. Try not to insult the vendors. Yes they’re aggressive, but they will honor their word. You may be thinking “Yeah right, Mama didn’t raise no fool!” when the salesman you just gave $200 for a drum asks you to leave both the drum and your money with him while he searches for a carrying case, but trust him. The neighboring vendors no doubt overheard his promise, and he has a reputation to uphold.
14. Don’t take pictures of people unless you’re prepared to pay. Street performers and begging children alike know that if you can afford a camera, you can afford to give them a few dirhams.
15. Whatever happens, it can be written off by: “Oh, well…this is Morocco!”
Copyright © 2008 Jessica Leving