Last week I wrote about our time spent in the airport in Marrakech. It was not a fun way to begin the trip. The trip did get better after that and we only had one more hiccup along the way. I thought I would share my experiences in Marrakech, Morocco with you guys so you can laugh (or cry!) along with me!
Traveling with kids is not easy. It’s not always fun and you’re not always appreciated in the moment. But the memories it creates, the experiences that your children have and the way it opens their eyes more to the world make every second worth it. Even if you’re stuck in an airport or throwing up in a hotel.
Once we finally left the airport, we were ready to see the city! Except we had wasted most of the day away and I did not want to go out at night. I didn’t feel like it was a dangerous place, but I was a single white woman traveling with two young kids. I didn’t want to risk it. We found a restaurant nearby and ate and then relaxed at the hotel.
See, the thing about Morocco that I wasn’t really prepared for, was that everyone is out for your money. I mean, I’ve been to places where they try to hustle you, but this was different. I am generally a naive, innocent person and it did not bode well for me. Let’s start with the camels…
There was a kind (or so I thought) gentleman who took me from the airport to our hotel and stopped on the way to grab our money from Western Union. He charged me $15 for the whole trip which come to find out was a little expensive. But he said, of course, that it usually is $20 so he was giving me a deal. I didn’t really believe the deal part, but I was just thankful to be on my way. He gave me his number in case I wanted to go somewhere.
The next day I called him to head out to the camels at the Palmeraie. I had read that you could ride camels, have a nice lunch and enjoy the day a little bit outside of the city. I thought it’d be a perfect way to start this trip. Long story short, the guy ripped me off. Charged way more for the camel ride and said it included lunch but it did not. I spent way too much of my budget on the first day. I am sure my driver that took me out there got a cut for bringing a stupid tourist around and it just made me sick. I felt so used. However, my kids were so happy to be able to ride the camels and it was a lovely experience, I just wish the money situation turned out differently. Oh well, lesson learned!
I really enjoyed exploring the city with my little guys. We had to do it a little differently than say if I was traveling with my husband or just a group of people. I wanted to make sure to stay safe! Because of that we didn’t venture into the souks. It made me nervous trying to keep my kids with me while people are haggling you to buy things all the while holding on to all my belongings. We stuck to the square and just around it.
One evening we asked our taxi driver to take us some places to eat. BIG mistake. They too are all in it together. The taxi guy took us into the souks to this little street that didn’t have much on it and I’m not sure I could have ever found my way out! As we walked in the walls were decked out with little tiles everywhere. It was actually kind cool. I am not sure if it was typical Moroccan or just overly touristy. Anyway, I open the menu and $30 a person! This was a tourist spot. The taxi guys get a cut when they drop off tourists. The food was great and it was actually a fun experience, but we ate at a typical Moroccan restaurant for $25 TOTAL. So ya, scammed again. Stupid white girl. My kids loved the experience though so it made the price hurt a little less.
The next day we found a driver outside of our hotel that was willing to take us to some of the gardens. He was very pleasant and took us to a garden that wasn’t really for tourists. However, at this point, I was wary of anyone who ‘nice’ because they all seemed to have other motives. He didn’t make me pay right away and waited in between gardens… Hmmm this doesn’t seem right. When I asked the price, he wouldn’t tell me! I pushed and pushed but he just kept saying “good price for you!” Yeah right. We’ll see.
It was pretty though! Those are the orange groves. The orange juice here was to die for!
The second garden he took us to there were some guys that asked to use the taxi just after us. He said he’d be back in ten minutes. Well, I still hadn’t paid yet! So I said okay and we went in to tour the gardens. They were pretty but honestly not anything to die for. But it was free and I was tired of having to bargain for everything.
Well, sure enough when we exited the garden, he wasn’t there. Ugh. Now, I am an honest person, I don’t want to not pay this guy who took us these places. So we waited a minute and crossed the street. We looked at a taxi that was waiting and it wasn’t him. We waited a few more minutes and he still wasn’t there. I had no choice but to take another cab! I wasn’t about to be standing on the side of the street in the middle of no where in Marrakech by myself with two kids waiting for a cab that would come who knows when! I felt horrible about it, but I also felt like I didn’t have a choice.
A few days later when we were leaving the hotel to walk somewhere there was a taxi driver outside that was trying to get my attention. I thought he was just bugging me to use him, so I ignored him and kept walking. When he ran up next to me, I thought it was a little weird! He explained that his friend was angry that I left and that I owe him money blah blah blah. At this point I was so sick of all these people being greedy and mean I had had it. I told the man what happened, that I waited and he wasn’t there and there was nothing I could have done, I wasn’t going to wait with my kids for him there. I would pay him later when he would take me to the airport.
He was there in the morning to take me to the airport. He wanted to charge me $40 for all of it. Just for a little perspective, it costs me $3 to get from the hotel to the city center and that was about a 1o minute drive. There is NO WAY what he did was worth $40. I got him down to $20 and he was so pissed. When he dropped me at the airport he didn’t even look at me or say bye or thank you. I actually had give him $27 and it wasn’t until he was in the car and saw that did he look out the window with a smile. Sheesh.
Another thing the boys really wanted to do was to ride the horse and carriage they had there. Can I just say that Marrakech is not a place for PETA. It didn’t look like the animals were treated the greatest… Just sayin’! Anyway, off to bargain again to get the price of these carriage rides down to a decent prices. I read it before I left, that you need to bargain for everything, it’s just the way it is over there, but MAN it’s tiring!! Not to mention my oldest son didn’t really understand what I was doing and why and he constantly thought that we didn’t have enough money! I had to reassure him that we were okay. Oh the responsibility-ness of the first borns!
On the horse and carriage ride around the city, our man stopped at a spice shop. Another way to get foreigners to spend money and they get a cut, but this time it was right up my alley. Spices and herbs and oils oh my! I ended up with some Argan oil, which is native to Morocco, some essential oils and a little perfume bar the boys liked at that moment and then all of a sudden couldn’t stand a little later. I could have spent so much more money in there, but I’m sure it was over priced. This is where they served us some fresh mint tea and it was good.
Then it hit. We had dinner in a little Moroccan restaurant. Not touristy at all. I don’t know what it was, but something was bad. Early Saturday morning, something like 4:00 AM after tossing and turning all night, Eli — my little guy — asked for some water. Neither he nor I were feeling too hot, so I thought it’d be a good idea. After a couple sips — you guessed it! — he barfed ALL OVER THE FLOOR. And then again on the way to the bathroom. Basically everything he had eaten was now on our hotel room floor.
You know how bad it sucks to take care of your kids when they’re throwing up? And then when you’re feeling nasty too? And then when you’re in another country? Without your better half? YEP. All those things. And it sucked. After I got Eli cleaned up and in bed, it was my turn. Thankfully, I have better control & aim, so there was no clean up. After that we both slept a little better but still felt pretty nasty.
My other son, on the other hand, didn’t have whatever we had. He was fine. Thank goodness he is such an awesome kid, otherwise that would have been hard! He got up before us and took his Legos in the bathroom so he wouldn’t disturb us and just played. Not a peep out of the kid until I went in there to check on him. He then got a little hungry so he went down to breakfast by himself.
We basically slept the day away. Then, in the afternoon when we were sitting just outside our room (to use that internet that didn’t work in our room) my older son got hit. He raced to make it to the toilet and just missed. All in the entry way of our hotel room. At this point, to be honest, I didn’t have it in me to clean it up. I just called housekeeping. To sum up the rest of our lovely Valentine’s Day, me and Tae threw up another time each, slept it off, and that’s it.
Thank goodness we felt better the next day. We had one more day in Marrakech and we wanted to make the most of it. I didn’t feel too hot, but we headed out anyway. One of the coolest things about blogging is that — I don’t even remember how — but I had met a friend named Amanda. She is married to a Moroccan and now living in Marrakech. We decided it would be fun to get the kids together to play. It was a very nice afternoon, I only wish I had done it earlier in the week!
Then we set out to find a place to do our Henna tattoos. I knew the boys would love it because, well, a tattoo!! Down to the center we went except this day it was packed. Snakes, monkeys, dancers — it was crazy!
Just to give you an idea of how lovely these people were, just after I took this picture a man came up to me and said “You pay for picture!”
It was Sunday. I had spent 5 days in Africa with kids by myself. I had been haggled and bargained with and taken. And I was done.
“I didn’t TAKE a picture.” I said with my firmest voice.
Yes, a lie, I know. But I was prepared to erase the picture if it was really that big of a deal. His response?
Well, okay then! Let’s get out of here kids.
We got our Henna and were out.
Peace out Marrakech. I will not be seeing you again.
Overall, I am so glad we went. You know why? Because as time goes on the pain of being sick, the annoyance of the people trying to scam you, and the rudeness in general just fades away and all the great memories stay. I can already see my kids remembering the fun stuff we did. Showing friends their tattoos and talking about camels. And that makes it worth it!