Marrakesh - Dos and Don'ts

Marrakesh is a shitty city.

No, literally.

Take one turn out of the manic main square and you are traipsing through an alley and what lines the historic walls of mud bricks and intricate tiling? A delicious blend of donkey, horse, monkey, dog, cat and human excrement.

For this reason, moroccan cuisine serves a dual purpose; under the Qu’ran, (halal) food serves as nourishment for both physical and spiritual strength. I also think the spices used, and cooked, in the medina are primarily there to help combat the smell. Furthermore, moroccan cuisine is also simply delicious. Tagines are the greatest smorgasbords of flavour I have ever encountered. Moroccan mint tea, and this is coming from a tea disparager, is also wonderful, unless you get a pot that is slightly too sickly sweet. This is likely to happen if you look too much like a tourist, or you try (try being the key word) to pour the tea from an outrageous height like a professional. However, I would recommend trying this at least once - regardless of how much tea ends up on the table rather than in your cup - and it’s important to find a balance. A balance between enjoying yourself, connecting with the people, truly experiencing the place, and not looking like a tasteless tourist. Here are a few suggestions for Marrakesh:

Yes, explore the religion of Islam through visiting sites, reading information, and talking to people. No, don’t be careless in your endeavours of understanding.

No, don’t restrict yourself to a group guided tour through the medina. Or look at your map or phone the entire time because you are worried about getting lost. Yes, explore the medina in its entirety, and get lost. You will get lost. And that’s the best part.

Yes, have some fresh orange juice in Jemaa el-Fna (the main square). No, don’t make it an outing with a photo shoot as well. It’s just orange juice.

No, don’t take photos with the monkeys or snakes. It promotes animal cruelty. Yes, go ahead and take photos of everything else, as long as you have consent.

Yes, try new foods (I’d recommend camel meat) and experiences. No, don’t ignore the beliefs and values of yourself and others in doing so.

No, don’t get duped into getting forcefully hennaed and have to pay for it. Yes, go get some henna if you’d like. Although I wouldn’t recommend it as a must-do, it is a thriving industry primarily comprised of women.

Yes, get out of the city at some point (I’d recommend a night in the Atlas mountains). No, don’t just travel through Marrakesh.

It’s wonderful city that deserves to be extensively explored.