Sunday, November 18, 2012

Egypt vs Morocco: the difference is remarkable

More and more I am coming to the conclusion that travelling is worth it either for reasons of a spiritual nature or cultural ones (music, architecture, history). By spiritual, I mean a place where a reconnection with Gaia is at its most potent (Kauai, Mt. Shasta, red sandstone canyons, death valley…) 

I am not so much intrigued by simple beach relaxation anymore, where you lay on the beach most of the day, eat good food and are not even able to be free, to do exactly what your heart desires: run along the beach, wear little clothing, sing in public, or even walk wherever you want to-those are very important to me. A feeling of confinement or having limited options is a bit daunting. I don’t like the idea of being one of the tourists anymore, I would just love to go straight into the desert, camp under the stars, join a real bedoiun tribe and immerse yourself in those experiences. But sometimes, in a closed culture like an Arabic one, it is quite difficult, so I guess if your heart is yearning for it, you have to be quite selective about where you go and whether freedom of expression is welcomed there.

Eve, same day:

I have just had easily the worst tour possible, in the history of all the tours I’ve taken. Once again, I'm afraid I have to say, Morocco was much, much better in general and much better organized. Maybe this is what happens when you get something cheap and on the street, but I had the impression that all these tours were the same, regardless of where you get them from.. well, maybe it makes sense that some places have a website and reviews and may cost a tiny bit more than the others, from some guy off the street. Although I am quite determined to make my way down there and tell him exactly just how much it really sucked, I know that in reality, it will change nothing. He already got his money regardless of my satisfaction. And still, it makes me reminisce about the positive experiences I have had in Morocco. I guess there is something to be said about the difference in tourism and in the general attitude of the people (which was the topic of most of my evening conversation with the friend I am visiting here): Marrakesh used to be very closed to foreigners and never invested any money into tourism until recently, unlike Hurghada, which sees tourists coming in by plane loads, twice an hour. Of course that changes the attitude of the tour providers, while in Marrakesh we were treated with great care and respect, with the guides showing us the real, authentic markets, villages, telling us stories… here, I got more of a: “you signed up for a 5 hr-tour: you saw the village ( few shacks side by side, where we were made to sit and wait for something to happen, yet nothing happened), had a BBQ (small cold plate of rice and potatoes)-now sunset, on our way back-that’s the tour”. 

 There is no effort or sincerity or pride in your own culture or roots anymore, much unlike Morocco. White people are viewed as money-making opportunities only, which brings me to my next topic: I ended up being in a group with mostly Egyptian people, who, by the end of the trip, got pretty friendly and chatty, asking whether I wanted to join them later on for a night out in town, even suggesting they pick me up and drop me off, since I live outside the main street. We exchanged phone numbers and I took it as a sign of a warm welcome and hospitality, as we are all about the same age and were all planning to go out as a group. Although a bit taken aback and suspicious of such friendly behavior, as I relayed this story to my friend, it got more clear: there is really no reason an Egyptian guy would ask you to “go hang out” with them, unless a) they want to pursue marrying you or b) they see you as a money-making opportunity. As much as it pains me to admit that I cannot be fully open and trusting towards everybody, I have to remember one simple truth: practice your discernment. So I did- by refusing the offer and staying in tonight. Morocco, I miss you!

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