Find your way out the annoying hustlers in Morocco through psychological testing
On to my 9th city in Morocco, I finally arrived the hot and touristy Marrakesh! I was tested right away the night I arrived the city. While I was looking like an idiot carrying my big bags, a man in the Medina grabbed me and said, “Konichiwa!” Dude, seriously, you cannot do that in Asia. Francisco comes to the rescue.
“You know what, in Asia, it’s very rude to do that to women. Please respect your cultural differences.” I wasn’t offended because I know that he meant well. I think the Moroccans just don’t know how to send their message in an acceptable manner that’s why foreigners always reject them. The man then replied, “bad tourists.” Okay, if you say so.
I have been here for 7 weeks and I can say that I pretty much did a great job in dealing with the hustlers in Morocco. Here in Marrakesh, I’ve seen a lot of foreigners still falling for the trap so I made a decision to share how I do it. Most of the time, I overhear their conversations and man, they are really being ripped off! I can’t believe they don’t fight back.
About the hustlers in Morocco
They will lure you. Talk to you and start being nice. The Medinas are usually huge and it’s very impossible to know your way there unless you have a very reliable map. As for me, Google maps seem to work properly. They will ask if you need help in finding your way in hostels. At first, you will accept it because it’s considered “help” and you’re new to this city. What do you know? By the time you reached your hostel, they will rip you off. They will ask for money and you will be forced to argue with them. They will be aggressive and sometimes, the language barrier makes you give up. Ending, you will give them money. They win. This is just one of the travel scams in Morocco – there’s so much more!
In some other cases, they will force you to enter their store to look at what they’re selling. Mind you, they’re very pushy so you should be firm. After all, I don’t think you will be buying something if you are backpacking. You don’t need extra load. Take it from me who carries around a huge luggage.
If you travel to Morocco and a hustler offers help, always remember that you are a traveler and that you do not need assistance. You can find your way, right? I have tried many ways on how to approach these people with respect and without leading to any arguments. Here are the things that work (most of the time).
It’s worse than Thailand and the Philippines — from French to Spanish to German to Dutch to English, the hustlers did their homework. They know every greeting in all these languages and some basic conversation starters. Of course, if you are from the Netherlands and you hear someone speak Dutch to you, you will be very surprised that it encourages you to respond. I did this and it worked! I don’t mean to be a racist or whatever but let them feel what you feel when you’re being mistaken for another citizenship. I don’t really like the idea of labeling a person on where he is from. I am not a fan of this. It’s just my way of responding back.
This is probably my favorite. I always stunned people with this! Imagine everyday, I get konichiwas and ni haos because people wanted to engage a conversation with me and try to lure me to buy their stuff.
They will stop for a few seconds with their faces like “did she just say salam alaikum?!!” It’s very rare for tourists to adapt to one’s culture specially when you’re only visiting the country for a few days. So you better know some basic greetings in Arabic! After I respond like this, they give me a big smile and let me walk away.
3. Offering hashish
As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, Morocco is known as the prime exporter of hash and these are offered casually on the streets.
His response? “Sorry.”
And then he let us walk away. I don’t mean to use religion in these kinds of stuff but you have to be creative on how to reject them with their offers. However, if you want hash, by all means, take it. I cannot give you an advice on how to deal but I am telling you that it’s illegal to use/purchase/sell this in Morocco even if you see a lot of people smoking it in public.
4. Further offers
From restaurants to cheap hotels to his cousin’s souk, everyone offers something that you ‘might’ need. There was one instance when I asked for something and the man didn’t have it. He called his cousin and it turns out that he has it. They are somehow connected in odd ways — every one of them. So be careful to make up for things to ask them. Do not underestimate their capacity because they have everything!
I broke the ice for asking for a baby tiger. I first wanted to ask for a donkey but I realized that donkeys are everywhere and it would be easy to access. They would think that you’re serious about this so they will discuss ‘baby tigers’ with you but in the end, they will figure out that you are joking and they will let you go. 🙂 Good, I made friends!
Well, if it doesn’t work, let’s be serious…
I repeat, never find yourself arguing with them and don’t give in either. We have different cases. Maybe you want some Moroccan carpets or restaurant and if that’s the case, go with the offer. But bear in mind that you have to pay them for taking/guiding you. If you want to be firm with your decision, good. Fight for your right but in a nice way. They will not get physical but you will feel threatened when they start raising their voice and making a scene. Do not provoke them. Best of all, walk away. That won’t make you less of a man, I promise you.
However, I also encountered the good ones…
There was a lot of people offering help without expecting something in return. A lot! The others have overshadowed the hustlers in Morocco but I assure you that you will find people who just want to help. Play it by ear. As for me, I haven’t mastered this yet. I still generalised every person who was offering help. Can you blame me? I have been here for almost 2 months and the experience is always the same. I am very thankful for those who helped me and I apologise to those who wanted to help but I rejected them. This world is not fair!
I hope my wit will help you survive the Medinas of Morocco. If you had the same experience, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts below.
Comic Cartoon by baylorlariat
“Often we may even smile or laugh at adversity, but all people share the same passions. They are merely manifest differently according to one’s culture and conditioning.”
Yasuo Kuwahara, Kamikaze: A Japanese Pilot’s Own Spectacular Story of the Famous Suicide Squadrons
Do you have any tips on how to avoid annoying hustlers in Morocco?
I had so much bad experiences but I’d also want to know your point of view if you visited. How did you deal with it? Leave your thoughts and suggestions on the comment box below!
Trisha is on Instagram