An Overview of Morocco: Traditions, Laws, Language, and Travel Advisory

Morocco. There are so many extreme and conflicting adjectives that I associate with the country. Exhausting. Exhilarating. Rich. Romantic. Draining. Delicate. Annoying. Astonishing. Empty. Excitement. It’s sort of hard to put into words how I feel about Morocco since my experiences were not good, but not bad. It’s not something I would repeat, but it’s not something I would erase. It truly is unique in all its bizzare happenings that it’s not a place I would ever recommend, but it’s not a place I would discourage you from visiting either.

Never have I been in a place where I’ve fought with locals. Regularly. Or held such distrust for any person, compliment, direction, historical piece of information. Yet it’s also not a place I’ve experienced so many differing and unique things all in one location. Morocco is like an abusive relationship. Where you get slapped then kissed. You don’t know what to feel. Or how to leave the relationship, without missing it all within the same breath.

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The following blog post is a summary of Morocco broken into subtopics. The final subsection is a portion on sexual harassment and violation for both men and women in Morocco and I recommend you read this travel advisory.

Language in Morocco

Moroccans are such talented linguists that they switch in and out of languages within one sentence and communicate perfectly. As a tourist, the people you’re going to mostly interact with will speak a minimum of 3-4 languages–if not 6 or 7. However, the dominant language depends on the region. French is universal and can be used everywhere. Northern Morocco speaks mostly Spanish, while southern Morocco is mostly Arabic, and into the desert is mostly Berber. However, the little Arabic I knew was pretty much useless as classical Arabic is not really used here, so Moroccan Arabic is preferable.

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Geography of Morocco

You can go through four seasons in one day. The landscape astounds me. One minute I’m in the Sahara desert, the next it’s snowing and people are sledding down mountains; but just drive one more hour and there are rolling hills of green, and then another hour you’re at the beach. It’s so bizarre and wonderful. Morocco is so rich in natural resources and diversity in every way possible. 

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Transportation in Morocco

The infrastructure of Morocco is great in that there are so many options for transportation. My favorite mode was renting a car just because I like to explore. But I recommend the ONCF train for long rides between cities, and the CTM bus if you’re on a budget. Read Coast of Morocco for my rental car experience, and Casablanca: Morocco’s Most Modern City for my bus and train experience. You can also hire a private driver, which was my least favorite experience. You can read about it in The Sahara Desert.

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Camel was actually my favorite mode of transportation 🙂

Accommodations in Morocco

The most commonly used accommodation in Morocco is a riad. Riads are family homes often owned by wealthy men who had multiple wives, and thereby provided housing for his multiple families when polygamy was still common. These buildings have six rooms or more with a large courtyard in the center, and are usually extremely ornate and centuries old. Most of them are listed on Booking.com, although I highly recommend checking on AirBnB where the same riad will be listed for cheaper. AirBnB only takes 1% commission whereas Booking.com takes 20%. Don’t listen to the ratings on any of those shits. None of them I found were accurate. I would just go by word of mouth.

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Riad Jamai in Fes.

Another option are the hotels, which are gorgeous. I think more elaborate than any of the palaces you’ll visit in Morocco. But the price tag matches its beauty. So unless you’re ballin’ out of control, this may not even be an option depending on budget.

I found staying at an expats house was the safest bet. A few riad managers I encountered tried to have sex with me or awkwardly trap me into a kiss. Things I didn’t have to worry about staying with a French woman. However, not all of the houses look like the pictures they post on AirBnB. I would still go by word of mouth.

It is important to note that homosexuality and sexual relations outside of marriage is a punishable offense, so just be aware of what you display in public. You can read more here. Neither of us experienced any ill-will by anyone despite not being married and maybe a little queer, but that was just OUR experience.

Eating in Morocco

Restaurants offer basically the same things: couscous, tagine, burgers, or pizza. Couscous is served on Fridays, the holy day (not my personal preference). Tagine tastes better when made in riad compared to restaurants. The camel burgers taste like rubber. Pizza is cooked in a fire oven so are usually pretty good. Oddly, the vegetables were always cooked and then served cold on salads.

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Looked so deceivingly delicious. Was actually awful.

I suggest avoiding restaurants when possible. After a month in Morocco, I don’t have one good restaurant recommendation. I would suggest always eat within riad. If you MUST eat out, no bullshit, the gas stations are lit. Moroccans don’t really eat in restaurants because it is expensive, so the food is catered to tourists with mild palettes. However, Moroccan men will frequent the cafes, which can always be found next or attached to a gas station. As a female, you might feel strange as all these men stare you down, BUT the omelettes and olives are worth it!! Since they cater to other Moroccans, the food is not only good but WAY CHEAPER than you would find in a restaurant.

Breakfast in your riads are not fantastic ever. They are mostly carbohydrate based and pretty tasteless. I’m not sure what those people who rave about riad breakfasts are eating in their regular lives to actually think they taste good. Perhaps they enjoy cardboard. It was a let down for me that I took personally. However, it should be included in the price of your room.

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NOT AN ORANGE.

Plenty of orange trees litter the streets of Morocco. Although tempting to just pick one off a tree, don’t do it. I did it. And they are not oranges. More like lemons.

Alcohol is not served in every establishment and is strictly prohibited on the street.

Religion in Morocco

Morocco is a majority Muslim country, although Moroccans pride themselves on being very open-minded about religion. It was something I was extremely impressed with as well. I had never seen such acceptance before. You can find a synagogue, a church, and a mosque all in one city.

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The mosques of all mosques in Casablanca.

The first religion in the country was that of the Berbers, which revolved around nature. The next religion was Jewish, then during the Arab conquest, Islam, and then during the Spanish Inquisition, Catholicism. When Israel was turned into a Jewish state, there was a mass migration of Jewish Moroccans and you’ll see lots of abandoned buildings where they used to live.

No need for an alarm clock in Morocco. The call to prayer will surely awaken you at dawn. Don’t need a clock either, cause you’ll hear it 5 times a day. Some holy days to look out for are:

  • Fridays are holy days for Moroccans and many places are shut down. Avoid this day to do museums.
  • During Ramadan, many stores are closed
  • Muhammad’s birthday, everything is closed (the time changes every year, so look this up)
  • Festival of Sacrifice or Eid Al-Adha where people go around and slaughter sheep. Could be kind of a cool thing to observe, but just know people will be with their families, not working.

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Dogs are considered dirty in the Muslim religion. If you touch one, you cannot go into mosque to pray. Because of this you won’t see many dogs on the streets, but you’ll see an enormous amount of cats running around as they are considered good luck.

Music in Morocco

The variety of music in Morocco was incredible. I heard a lot of Reggaeton, Lebanese dance music, Algerian rap, traditional Berber music, and Angola house music. This just goes to show how truly mixed the Moroccan people are due to colonization and geography.

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Desert Jams

Shopping and Shipping in Morocco

There’s so much information on this that I made a separate blog post. See How Not To Shop In Morocco Like A Basic Bitch for details. But the shopping truly is incredible. Be prepared to drop some coins.

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How do you choose just 1?

Dressing in Morocco

Women: Even though Morocco is a Muslim country and hijabs are worn, it is definitely not a requirement. So let your weave breathe. You can dress as conservatively or as modern as you want. I super duper enjoyed the ladies who wore tie-dye hijab head to toe. YASSS. Fashion! However, I was super confused by the prevalence of hooded, fleece bathrobes with Mickey Mouse or Hello Kitty on it with pajama pants underneath. (This was in December, I’m not sure what is common in the summertime.)

Men: The traditional garb for men looks like a long kaftan with a hood and is called djellaba. The hood is pointed. So it definitely looked eerie to my American eyes as suspiciously similar to the KKK hoods. But obviously, they are not KKK. Men can also dress as conservatively or as modern as they want. Turbans were seen all over the desert but not required. Although, I totally rocked the turban when I could.

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I loved the turbans!

Government of Morocco

The government is ruled by a monarchy, I believe the longest running in Morocco. This dynasty has been running since the 17th century and is believed to have started by descendants from Mohammed, the prophet.

From my understanding, the current king, King Mohammed VI, is well-liked by his people. You’ll see the King’s picture put up in every establishment in Morocco.

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He is a proponent for women’s rights. Previously, the queen was never allowed to be seen in public, even in royal photos. His wife is the first queen to be shown in pictures. In addition, he’s made it infinitely harder to practice polygamy in Morocco. A man must prove financial stability as well as get permission from his first wife in order to get a second wife. It’s now rarely practiced. He also has stabilized Morocco, pushed for growth and environment friendly energy renewal via high speed railways, the world’s largest solar plant, and positioning Morocco as the busiest port in the Mediterranean with a direct train line from Tangier to the south of Africa. The port of Tangier is also duty free to their alliances. I was pleasantly surprised at the steps Morocco has taken to promote environmentally friendly modes of transportation and energy.

However, the monarchy doesn’t benefit everyone. We did pass through rural towns where water was communal and not in every home. Some towns with gold as their natural resource have been taken by the king and surrounded by heavy security. The people are not allowed to work in the mines. Because townships survive off of their resources, manifestations occur because of the unemployment and widespread poverty. All the manifestations we came across were peaceful.

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In addition, the people do not have a real mode of expressing themselves to the King. There is no direct line to tell their thoughts and their struggles which often results in frustration and political protests. But for the most part, Morocco is stable and heavily relies on tourism as one of its main sources of income. A.k.a Morocco is a giant tourist trap.

The king before, Hassan II, had a controversial reign. When Hassan II came into power, it seemed like he acted sort of a like a dictator, rather than a constitutional monarchy. There were two assassination attempts by coups from internal government officials. He was gangster and survived both. His parents were first cousins.

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The father of Hassan II, Mohammed V, also had a controversial reign. He took the place of his brother who was strongly against cooperating with Europeans. The French threw him out and brought Mohammed V out of exile from Madagascar. This opened trade between Morocco, Europe, and The United States. He was strongly depicted as basically a Western sell-out, but then Holocaust happened and the people flipped and praised him for standing firmly against Jewish prosecution. He played a big role in protecting the large Moroccan Jewish population.

Traditions of Morocco

Aside from mint tea and religious customs, the one tradition you need to know about is HAMMAM. Hammam was traditionally used as a public bath and sauna where people would do ritual cleansing before entering a mosque (which is why a lot of them are near mosques), and are divided by gender. It is not traditional Roman bath where you are completely submerged in the water. Water is poured onto you.

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Me coming out of hammam like…

There are two choices of hammam: 1) public which is very local and very inexpensive or 2) private in a spa, not local, and a bit pricier. I was persuaded NOT to do local hammam because of sanitation, so I went to a spa. I honestly can’t speak on the sanitation of the public hammam because I’ve never been.

Ok wait, so let me tell you about the gloriousness of hammam.

First of all it is $15 to get your body scrubbed head to toe. You can definitely find cheaper. But me, being the diva I am, paid $45 for a full body massage, hammam, and manicure/pedicure. I’m going to tell you off jump, skip the fluff, just get the hammam.

So you enter this room and you’re allowed to declothe as much as you feel comfortable with. (I’m lowkey a nudist but also who the fuck takes a bath with their clothes on? So yes, I stripped.) Then you’re instructed to lie down on a mat on the floor. The floor is stone and heated. (It actually was too hot for me and I got burned, but it was worth it.) Then a woman walks in and pours the most perfect temperature of water on your naked body. She then puts on a black glove, only one hand like Michael Jackson, and begins to scrub you fervently with this sandpaper glove. She uses black eucalyptus soap until your body is sparkling clean and rubbed raw. And yes she washes your privates. It is definitely sensual and erotic and I was wondering why I ever bathed myself? Then she slathers you with algae for moisture and washes your hair with pure argan oil. I think I fell in love.

Bottom line: get the hammam. It’s a miraculous, wondrous, relaxing experience.

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Hammam had me like…

Travel Advisory: Sexual Harassment and Assault

This portion is just a warning of what happened to me, but also what millions of other travelers and what many Moroccan women experience on a daily basis. It is not to discourage you from traveling to Morocco, but just to give you a heads up. 

For some background: I traveled with a 6 ft tall Iranian man. I am perceived as a short East Asian woman. That’s what we look like, k. Not White. Ethnic AF. In addition, at times I wore a wedding ring to pretend like we were married. I did this because before leaving many Moroccan women warned me that it would be best to be accompanied by my “husband” to avoid street harassment. And to make sure my legs were covered.

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Oh hayyy pretend husband!

Let me tell you something, none of that shit works.

The majority of the time I wore my regular clothes with a kaftan over to keep covered and to “blend” as much as I could. Then when I got to my destination, I took it off and put it in my purse, cause hello, I wanted to slayyyy. You can imagine my confusion when despite wearing a shapeless long dress, men would turn their entire motorcycles around on crowded streets just to come up and touch me. Even saying to my partner, “Your wife is very beautiful” and then lay his hands on my hair or body. Not that it stopped either when my friend said, “If you think she’s my wife, why are you touching her?”

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Kaftan at all times.

When we came back to our riad, completely exhausted from fighting off street rats and men licking their lips staring at me like I was a piece of meat, and sometimes touching my legs, we met a couple on their honeymoon. She was from Somalia and he was from Spain. She was super fun and bubbly and we struck up conversation. Then she said, “I hate that I chose Morocco as my honeymoon destination. I wear hijab out in the street even though I’m not Muslim. What is wrong with these men? They’re crazy. My husband is tired of defending me. I am covered head to toe, I’m Black, and I speak Arabic and keep shouting at them SHAME, and they don’t care.”

The moral of that story is: it doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are, it does not save you from being touched. Many Moroccan women experience sexual harassment on a daily basis and you can read about it here.

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Street harassment did not amuse me.

But oh no, this didn’t just happen in one city or in one specific instance. Here’s a list of just a few times my partner and I encountered sexual harassment and assault:

  • Driving the coast of Morocco we were stopped by police at a random checkpoint. The police officer asked me to get out of the car so he could stare at my legs. Just for that. And then he let us go.
  • In the Saharan desert, I was taking a nap in my sleeping bag and my partner wandered off to go to the restroom. Within 5 minutes of being alone, a Berber man tried to crawl into my sleeping bag.
  • We went to a deserted beach and felt like we were finally alone. As soon as I took off my kaftan–with my bikini underneath–30 men, out of nowhere, came down from the cliffs and erupted into a game of “soccer” right next to my beach towel. So we had to leave.
  • On New Years Eve, I sat down at a table of six Spaniards to share a large meal of tagine. The owner of the restaurant sat next to me and asked if I wanted more bread. While he was shoving the plate in my face, he moved his hands in between my legs. I turned to my partner and said, “He’s touching me.” So we switched spots. Two minutes later my partner leans over and whispers, “He’s stroking my dick.” So yes, you can literally have a dick and they will still touch you.
  • Throughout my stay, if I posted a picture on Instagram, I got 100s of DMs from Moroccan men trying to find my location and hook up. (I always back-post for safety, so none of these things materialized.)
  • Here are even some text messages I received from people I had paid to protect me with blatant sexual harassment without solicitation:
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Needless to say, I did not recommend him on my blog.
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That voice message was him cussing me out for a minute because I gave him 3-stars on Trip Advisor. He harassed me all the way to America, calling me non-stop.

I am going to say this once: JUST BECAUSE YOUR LEGS ARE COVERED DOES NOT SAVE YOU FROM SEXUAL HARASSMENT OR ASSAULT.

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I was not even safe within my own riad.

The bottom line is: sexual harassment and assault is a major problem in Morocco. If you did not get sexually harassed, it does not mean you did something right, it just means they didn’t want you. Be grateful for that.

It was so tiring that my partner and I turned it into a sort of joke where we would take bets on how long it would take for someone to touch me, because it happened every time, with every man with the exception of two. (My angels of Morocco, my riad managers in Fes. You can read about them here.)

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If you did get sexually harassed, it does not mean you did something wrong. No amount of clothes, lipstick, behavior should warrant sexual harassment. It bothers me when people (especially self-righteous women) give “advice” to “be respectful” and cover up. NO! I have some advice on how to be respectful. How about NOT FUCKING TOUCHING ME WITHOUT PERMISSION. So NO ONE should tell you what to do to prevent such attacks, because it is not possible to prevent a predator from being a predator. It is not your fault. It’s completely reasonable to assume that men have self-control and boundaries. A man’s default behavior should not be rape.

So that’s all I have to say about that.

Some solutions for sexual harassment and assault in Morocco

After going on the interwebs and talking with women, I found some similarities between women who did get sexually harassed and women who had no idea what the fuck I was talking about because they had a great time. I’ll share them here:

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  • Travel in large groups. The more people you have, the less penetrable it is for a predator to touch you.
  • Hiring a guide. Having a guide definitely cuts down the amount of street harassment. However, in my case, my guide was #1 sexual predator, so you trade 50 for 1. (And by the way, my guide had NINETY 5-star Trip Advisor reviews. Word of mouth does not always constitute protection. At the end, when I gave him a 3-star review, he offered to pay me $800 to remove it. Real talk. I didn’t remove it. But then I was contacted by Trip Advisor saying they removed it for writing about a tour guide, not the tour company. So just be aware.) This was just my case though, I know a lot of people who were really happy with their guides.
  • Walking with a Moroccan man. I mentioned by angel from Fes earlier, but Fes was so ratchet I wouldn’t go anywhere without Mohammed. He was not a guide, I just told him I needed him with me so he dropped all his duties to help me through the streets. After overhearing conversations of people plotting things against us, he wouldn’t let us go anywhere without him. Praise God for him. He manages Riad Jamai in Fes. You can book it here.
  • Walking with headphones. For some reason, if you noticeably had headphones, you were less likely to be approached.
  • Traveling during high season. We were told that during the winter months, people are more likely to be predatory because of the low amount of customers coming through shops, restaurants, and tours. The more people in the country, the more spread out the assault.

These things in no way guarantees your safety, but any precaution helps, right? This also does not guarantee you will get sexually assaulted. It DOES NOT happen to everyone.

All in all, Morocco is not a place I would recommend, but it’s not a place I would discourage anyone from visiting. It is rich in so many things and has the potential to be such a great destination. I am so grateful and privileged for this experience.

63 Comments

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  1. Oh my word I am so surprised about your harassment stories. I thought Morocco would be like the Gulf where men would never even speak to you first never mind touch you. In Kuwait they would literally have their hands chopped off for that. Gosh. Your pics are gorgeous though. Need to find a large group of people to travel with when I plan a trip there!

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    • Oooo I need to go to Kuwait!! I thought that too, tbh. I always viewed Muslim men as having more respect for women just because of the peaceful and respectful nature of the religion. Those predators were obviously not a good representation of their religious beliefs. I just want to emphasize that’s just what happened to me. It does not happen to everyone! And don’t want you to feel scared, but just to be aware. You’ll have to tell me about your experience! Thank you always for your comments and for reading!

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      • You are most welcome. Nothing much to do or see in Kuwait but visit Oman or the UAE and you will experience the kind of peaceful and respectful treatment you deserve and also see some gorgeous sights 🙂 Totally get that its your personal experience but still good to know as I usually travel alone around the Middle East.

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  2. Wow! Okay so many thoughts.. where to begin.

    1. What a disappointment about the food!! But lots of restaurants in touristy places are usually shit because they try to cater to bland ass people. Likeeee I’m Nigerian I want that spicy shit

    2. That hammam sounds absolutely glorious!!! I’ve been looking for a Korean day spa nearby.. all I want to be scrubbed down by an old lady.

    3. I have no words regarding the amount of sexual harassment you endured! And unsurprisingly your partner as well… I mean DAMN that’s bold as hell! And then the group tour guide… like I can’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • HAHA right. I love spicy! And Hammam IS glorious. I’ve never been to Korean spa but everyones been talking about it! My grandma is Korean so maybe I’ll ask her to scrub me down haha. My hammam lady was NOT old though. She was super young with very large breasts that swung hard when she was scrubbing. I wasn’t mad about it. AND YES!!! The sexual harassment was just not something I expected so I was shocked.

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  3. So sorry you experienced this. I travelled with one other woman (I consider us both attractive) and we didn’t experience this at all. Just some good natured flirting from shopkeepers but nothing offensive. We spent 9 days and drove ourselves around. I wish I could have given you restaurant recs because I had some delicious food! The main problems I had with Morocco was what I considered animal abuse.

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  4. I have a restaurant recommendation for y’all! My fabulous friend/coworker (Veronica) who studied abroad in Morocco for five months told me about this place. It’s called Cafe Clock (http://cafeclock.com/), and there’s one in Fez and in Marrakech. I’ve only been to the one in Fez, but it was fantastic! I ended up eating there twice during my three days in Fez. Not just because the food was amazing (some food pics/details here: https://www.postcardsfromstef.com/morocco-beckons-the-ancient-medina/), but also because they have a whole calendar of cultural events on offer, such as storytelling, musical performances, and cooking classes! But it’s worth a visit for the avocado orange smoothie alone. Just sayin’! 🙂

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  5. Morocco is my dream destination! Loved to learn so many new things!

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  6. I was lucky to have a Berber guide for my time in Morocco and have quite a stress free trip. Morocco isnt a destination for everyone and I think that your tips give a true perspective on travel there for women,
    A must read post for anyone planning a visit.

    @piccavey

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  7. Your pictures are so beautiful! I love all the gorgeous architecture!

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  8. thetravelleaf June 3, 2017 — 3:33 pm

    Very impressive article! I enjoyed reading it a lot as I’ve been to Morocoo myself and can relate to a lot what you are speaking about.

    First of all I really like how you used the term “abusive relationship” when describing Morocoo! That’s so on point 😀

    I personally was luck to have only good experience, no harassment or anything like that. Except the occasional compliments on the street. But I was traveling with a group of guys and girls, so that helped a lot.

    We had a chance to visit a public hammam. That was an awesome experience. It’s probably good to check the place out at first to make sure that’s it’s clean and normal. Our one was just perfect!

    Thanks again for the great story and helpful tips! 🙂

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    • You know, I’m glad you said that about public hammam, because I was like “really how bad could it be?” But I just opted for the spa because it was my splurge day haha. So thanks for that!

      Also, I’m really glad you didn’t experience any street harassment! I did find that people who traveled in a group had a much better experience. So I’ll keep that suggestion in there.

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  9. Wow this is all highly disturbing…. did you enjoy the country (minus the harassment)? Or do you think it’s just not worth the headache? (Obsessed with your pants btw).

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    • Haha, thank you! I made them myself!! You can find them at http://www.etsy.com/shop/alohakiona.

      As for Morocco, if there wasn’t any harassment, I would have enjoyed it immensely. Considering that there was, it tainted my experience. It actually took me 5 months to write this article because I had to walk away from it in order for it not to be completely tainted by all the harassment that took place. With that said, I know that is not everyone’s experience so I would never advise anyone not to go. But I don’t see myself going back anytime soon.

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  10. Wow this is all highly disturbing… did you enjoy the experience or it was too stressful to appreciate? Love your pants btw.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. crazytravelista June 3, 2017 — 7:18 pm

    Woah, I can’t believe your stories of sexual harassment. I thought I had a bad time solo traveling in Morocco but your stories take the cake. And I cannot believe all this happened with your bf there!!! Well, given my experience, this isnt as shocking to hear actually. Unfortunately, it completely tainted my time there and I don’t think I will be heading back there anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My thoughts exactly! Yea, everyone’s first statement when I warn them is “but I’m going with a man.” Yea, so did I and it didn’t offer me any protection lol. He even got touched. So yea it definitely tainted my experience also and have no real desire to return unless I’m building my dream home and need a massive lamp.

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  12. Wow, I am absolutely stunned by just how much harassment you experienced in Morocco. I’m so angry for you. That is so unbelievably unacceptable. I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about Morocco lately and not one of them has mentioned this level of harassment. I don’t know if that’s because the authors didn’t experience it, or they’re too embarrassed or nervous to share their experiences because they’re afraid that they’ll be blamed for what happened to them. I definitely still want to go to Morocco, because it seems like an absolutely gorgeous country. But I’ll take everything with a grain of salt from now on.

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    • I FOUND THAT SAME THING! Before going to Morocco, I did a ton of research and didn’t find anyone that mentioned it. So I was stunned and shocked when I was expecting Arab hospitality and was welcomed with…not that…. So I just felt obligated to share with the world how it was for me, because no one else talked about it. And yes, I put it into the world and have gotten attacked on multiple travel forums and even here in the comments, there are victim shamers. So I can see why no one mentions it because the internet doesn’t allow you to have negative experiences these days! Thank you so much for reacting like an empathetic human being. Your comment is so appreciated.

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      • Thank you so much for sharing your story even though you’re receiving a lot of hate for it now! It’s so important to have these experiences out there so that no one goes into a situation blind to what is possible.

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  13. I red this entire article and I found it extremely interesting. I visited Morocco a lot with my family when I was very young and I didn’t remember this at all! I am sorry that you had some bad experiences – I am in love with Moroccan food especially Bastilla !

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  14. Far out this was an INTENSE read. I can’t thank you enough for writing such an honest and thorough post. The examples you gave of the kinds of situations visitors should look out for is truly priceless. I’ve been collecting blogs about this destination for ages and none of them had this honest information in it which actually leaves me a bit disappointed in other blogs. Thank you, this is a wonderful resource that I will be saving and spreading awareness with.

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    • THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS COMMENT. I read a lot of blogs before going and did not read anything on it either. Which left me bewildered and stunned to be greeted with all that happened. I felt an obligation to put it out there, because I didn’t want other women to not be prepared for it, whether they experienced it or not. Thank you so much for being such a wonderful human and for this wonderful comment. You sharing it with other women could be the difference between someone having a wonderful time and someone having a tragic time.

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  15. So I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Morocco! But I really appreciate how you described the country so matter-of-factly. It seems pretty neutral and from your post I totally understand why. Do I still want to go someday? Yeah. But I totally appreciate your insight and warnings and will be mindful of them!

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    • YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY GO TO MOROCCO! This post was in no way to discourage anyone from traveling to Morocco. It has always been my dream to go here and I would never crush anyone’s dream. If someone was to have told me not to go to Morocco back then, I would have told them to fuck off. So you should definitely go and experience it yourself. I just feel like it is better to be warned and it not be as bad, then to not know and be completely dazed and confused like I was.

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      • Yes, I totally got that from your post. And let’s face, I wouldn’t take well to someone suggesting I don’t do something anyway 😉 I feel much better prepared for whenever I make it there

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  16. I visited Rabat and felt the same way. I went w My friend, we’re both about 5′ tall, and felt so unsafe especially because of the way men stared at us. I wanted to give Morocco the benefit of the doubt but after reading this, idk!

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  17. Damn, I’m so torn about whether I want to visit Morocco. On the one hand, it’s stunningly beautiful and so culturally different from anything I have seen this far. On the other hand, I 100% believe what you say re: sexual harassment being rampant and feel that it would negatively impact my experience. Thanks for the useful write-up should I decide to go. I will definitely bookmark it!

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    • You should definitely visit if you’ve always wanted to! It negatively impacted my experience but I also was not prepared at all and did not expect all of that to happen. I think going into it expecting it would greatly heighten your experience because you’ll be able to recognize certain behaviors and know that you’re not the crazy one. Thank you for reacting to sexual harassment as a compassionate human being. Not everyone is as empathetic. So just wanted to let you know that you are appreciated.

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  18. YES! YES! YES! This post is exactly what I needed for my trip planning.

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  19. Wow, we must have visited two different countries !

    Perhaps I’m just too old and not attractive enough but we met many younger women and couples and I lost count of how many friends have travelled to Morocco over the years. Not a single harassment story. In saying that I always dress conservatively in a Muslim country and wouldn’t never dream of wearing a bikini.
    There are good and bad people everywhere and good and bad parts of each country and city – perhaps you were not hanging out in the right places ? The only place we felt slightly on edge was a rural market, although I would compare that to India and Egypt. You have to be vigilant.

    As for restaurants we had some extraordinary meals. Nomad and Comptoir Darma were stand outs. Karawan in Fez. And we had some gorgeous breakfast in the Riad’s – an abundance of local fruits and French pattiserie but plenty of eggs and protein too.

    Ps. They do not wear Hijab in Morocco – the Jelaba is worn by both men and women and is worn as a sign of modesty.

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    • Hi Kate,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Firstly, I am glad you enjoyed your restaurant meals and breakfast. I did not. So thanks for dropping your recs here.

      Secondly, women DEFINITELY wear hijab in Morocco. Hijab just means “cover” and refers to a headscarf. But yes, I was looking for that word to describe the head to toe covering. So thanks for that!

      Lastly, as much as I like to credit my sexual assault to how attractive I was, I know that is definitely not the case. Just because people don’t talk about harassment doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And just because other people don’t experience it, doesn’t mean it’s not common or that my harassment was warranted because I wasn’t “hanging out in the right places.” If you read the blog carefully, I said at one point I was in the desert in my own sleeping bag when someone tried to crawl inside of it. I’m not sure what bad place I could have been hanging out at in my sleeping bag, let alone being surrounded by sand dunes? In addition, although Morocco is a Muslim country it is not a 100% conservative country. On top of that, bikinis are appropriate on the beach. In fact, Morocco is a top surfing destination. So many women wore bikinis and men wore speedos. Entire towns such as Taghazhout and Mirleft are built on the beach and surfing tourism industry.

      I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but by suggesting I wasn’t vigilant enough or conservative enough, you are participating in victim shaming and blaming. This is a huge problem in rape culture right now. I encourage you in the future to choose your words and suggestions more carefully. But again, I appreciate your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. I’ve always really wanted to visit Morocco, because it looks so beautiful and colourful. That’s so surprising to hear about the level of sexual assault though. I would expect people staring and trying to talk to you, but I wouldn’t have expected men to just come up and touch you. I had heard it’s probably not great for female solo travellers, but it’s crazy you still experienced that even while travelling with a man. I still definitely want to visit, but I’ll be more cautious and travel in the high season with a group.

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    • You should definitely still visit! Like I said it didn’t happen to everyone, it is just unfortunate it happened to me and at such an alarming rate. However, that is not to take away that Morocco is a very beautiful country despite all of that. I just didn’t feel comfortable sharing all the good without sharing all of the real. I felt I just wanted other women to go into the situation being prepared and it not be as bad, than for them to go not knowing and be shocked and bewildered like I was.

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  21. This article was so difficult to read, but major kudos to you for being honest about your experiences and speaking your truth. I always feel slightly guilty reporting on the negative aspects of a country (and honestly, *every* country has negative aspects and it doesn’t do any good to gloss over them) because I don’t want them to overshadow the good. But this is important information. I’ve never been to Morocco but I just know I would have the same experience as you. I have really, really blonde hair and lots of tattoos and I get uncomfortable levels of attention even in Buddhist countries where people are always said to be “the nicest people in the world!” This article wouldn’t dissuade me from going to Morocco if I were so inclined, but now I know that this is a place where I would feel safer traveling in a group. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Morocco is a country that inspires such extreme reactions, and such differences from one traveller to another – I’m glad you shared your real experience and didn’t feel the need to dance around the thorny, uncomfortable parts. I’ve been to Morocco three times now (my first two times travelling alone, in Marrakech, and then the third time I dragged my boyfriend there) and always end up coming to the conclusion that I love it there despite its flaws – but also, I have to admit that I didn’t experience harassment anywhere near the level that you did. There were several awkward conversations and one shady guy that waited for me on a motorbike outside my riad, but (thankfully) nobody touched me. I managed to stay at really fantastic riads with even more fantastic food, and I think that really helped to put my whole experience in a positive light – the chaos of the medina was doable when I knew that the most relaxing space ever (and yes, with a wonderful hammam!) was waiting for me. But, good experience or not, it’s definitely a country where you feel like you can’t let your guard down even for a minute while out exploring!!

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  23. Wow! This doesn’t sound fun at all! This kind of things can really spoil the whole experience… Too bad it still happens in 21st century… 😦
    Besides that, I loved your post – there’s plenty of useful information. Thank you!

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  24. Thank you, this is very helpful. I will be referring to it a lot on my upcoming trip! I appreciate the candor about the trip. I’m glad to have some honest feedback on this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi I’m married to a Moroccan. I completely agree with the harassment stories. If I walk with my husband it is one story- I am left alone. But If I walk by myself I am harassed non stop. Comments, staring, people blocking my way, following me. I have had all sorts and it is horrendous to be treated like that just because I am not walking next to a man. It makes you feel like there is no respect at all for women.
    Definitely one of the worst things about Morocco.
    I’m sorry you experienced this as well. It is a beautiful country but the daily harassment destroys a lot of its beauty unfortunately.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Sondra Jackson June 10, 2017 — 2:42 am

    Hi, thanks so much for sharing your experiences😊 I spent several weeks in Morocco this past April, it is an amazing country. The history and the architecture is fascinating. YES! The aggressiveness of many of the men that I met was an issue for me. I did not experience Sexual Harassment (Too Old I Guess😊) but my shoulder was grabbed by a shop keeper in one of the Medina’s after my at least 5 “No Thank You’s”. I flipped. I called him every name but a Child Of God! I swore so much I saw a Moroccan woman grab her child. I will walk away from words, No Problem but the touching a woman without her permission that is an extreme NO! Another man swore at me when I wouldn’t come into his shop.

    I have also read many Moroccan women’s experiences regarding the Sexual Harassment problem in that country. It is a very serious problem and I am so sorry that you had to endure that.

    To be honest I didn’t care for the food either. Since I was in Morocco I stuck with Moroccan food. A friend of mine who is Moroccan told me, when I commented about it, that the restaurants are usually Bland, but their home cooking is much more flavorful.

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  27. I’m so sorry this happened to you! I have always wanted to go to Morocco and still want to go, but this made me better prepared for the possible harassment (of course you can NEVER fully prepare yourself). I think you’re awesome for writing about it because it shouldn’t be brushed away as if it’s nothing! It’s something serious and it needs attention.

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  28. Oh wow! I loved my morocco trip! But then I guess I travelled with my parents and had a local guide with us and all of us are Muslim. Maybe they back off for such – even though I was in jeans and don’t wear a headscarf. And my colleague went with a bunch of friends, also had no trouble. I didn’t realise what a big difference it could have been.

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  29. This blog post really gives me an insight into what to possible expect visiting Morocco. I actually came across this post on your IG, long before I just found a cheap deal there, and kept it in mind to come back to read it again.

    I noticed that you visited in December. Could you possibly comment on the weather and what you suggest I wear?!

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    • Hi Nadine! Thank you! Yes I went in December and it was colder than I expected! About 65 degrees Fahnreheit during the day and depending on the city dropping to below zero in the desert and around 45 in other places. I definitely suggest a winter coat! But you can get around with just a sweater during the day. I wore my kaftan a lot!

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  30. Sorry to hear about the harassment you experienced in Morocco. My family and I visited last month, and we had a few “encounters” with locals, but nothing that could compare to being sexually harassed. I guess being with my wife and two teenage sons gave us a different dynamic with the locals, but it’s still very different from other countries for sure.

    When we visited Fes, we hired a local guide to take us around the medina, and it made all the difference in the world. An older gentleman who actually grew up in the medina and knew everyone, we weren’t even given a second look by shopkeepers on the street, and the carpet shop and leather shop by the tanneries that he was obligated to take us to didn’t pressure us at all. I do believe that finding the right guide is key, but that can be luck in finding one.

    It’s really an odd country. On the one hand, we were tired of the haggling and suspicion whenever dealing with anyone in public, but on the other hand, the folks who worked at the Riads we stayed at were extremely professional, helpful and friendly. I am still trying to figure it all out…

    I went to a hammam (spa) with my wife, and it was great! I really enjoyed it. My wife went back for two more before our vacation was done. 🙂

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  31. This post. I have read so many romanticized posts about Morocco, but the more people I meet in person who’ve gone have similar stories to yours. I have been in love with the architecture and food, and I’ve wanted to visit since high school. However, the more I read about Iran, I think I’d rather go there for similar architecture, and it just seems so, SO much safer and respectful than Morocco, and many N. African countries. I’m not sure I could handle people that aggressive, I thought Cubans were intense.

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  32. Loved the honesty in your post! I’m a female traveling solo to Spain this Fall and wanted to spend some time in Morocco after. Do you recommend any specific tour groups that I could join, or know where I could start looking? Based off of your experience it seems it would be least stressful to try and travel through different regions of Morocco with the same group if possible. I’ve done some research but word of mouth, like you said, seems to be more reliable. Thanks!

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  33. Hey woman. Been meaning to read this post for forever. I’m so proud of you for speaking up and not being afraid to tell your story. It takes tremendous courage to speak up about harassment and sexual assault but also, I feel like there’s this backlash within travel writing like you can’t speak negatively about a destination. Double kudos to you for your bravery. Btw shame on Trip Advisor! This disgusts me! I was only in Morocco 3 or 4 days. The first night was rough. We received a lot of harassment. I was with a female friend but we are both tall women (5’9ish) and I swear that tempers men form thinking about touching us. After that we joined a group to go into the desert. I met a tall (handsome af) bi-lingual Egyptian Canadian who kept me by his side. I think the key is go with a group and make sure it’s a group of mostly men.

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  34. Hello, This was a very great read. Morocco is high on my travel list but I think after reading this I will wait until I can go with a group of friends vs. with one other woman. I think i read the comments thoroughly and I just have one question….

    What’s the name of the hammam, tho? 😀

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