In 2007 together with 4 other people I went to Morocco for a week. We went by a private car from Spain. On our way back we visited Gibraltar. Find out what you can expect when you get there and why it’s worth going to Morocco by car.
It was our first day in Morocco right after we crossed the border. There were two days of travelling in the south of Spain behind us, so everyone dreamt of one thing only- taking a bath. I would have never thought that finding one would be so difficult.
King’s birthday and stop at Tanger
Since the very beginning of our trip we knew what kind of places we would be staying in for a night. It was according to the rule that one day it was in a wealthy style, meaning staying over in a hotel or a hostel, dining in restaurants etc., and the next day like tramps, namely sleeping in a tent or in a car, buying food in supermarkets and taking a shower at a camping site. We already had a two-day journey, didn’t have any bath and had a border crossing with lots of adventures. Despite that we were willing to hit the road as Tangier wasn’t an inviting place to stay, but due to the king’s birthday, which I’ll write about later, we decided to find a place to stay in a hotel and take part in the birthday celebrations. We were too tired to drive around in a search for a hotel. None of us had a smartphone at that time, so we decided to stop at the first hotel in the centre up to 10 EUR for a person, which would look quite clean and have a shower.
The best profession in Morocco – guide
Luckily we didn’t have to drive around too long as at a roundabout we got stopped by some dude who offered to be our guide to a hotel. At that day we didn’t know yet that the so called guide is a key word in Morocco and a profession exercised practically by anyone from a 10-year old to a 60-year old. It’s normal that you’ll be stopped at streets by different people wanting to be your guides. Obviously they don’t do it for free. It’s hard to get rid of such guides later on as they don’t take “no” for an answer. Don’t be surprised if you get verbally offended. This is how this business works. One way or another, we didn’t know that yet so we agreed to follow our guide who led us to some hotel. First we got greeted by a reception worker who discretely put a coin into our guide’s hand. The guide disappeared quickly. Exaggerated comfort wasn’t very important to us and we got convinced to stay by a promise of a warm shower.
In search of the shower
We drew lots and the honour to take a shower as first fell on me. Hurrah! I quickly wrapped myself in a tower and cheerfully run upstairs to the bathroom. I didn’t expect any luxuries but the shower did look a bit strange next to a john and a bucket. I turned the tap on. No! Not only does the water run very slowly (perhaps the pressure is low) but it’s cold as well. Oh what a scumbag and swindler!- I thought at first. I decided to be patient. The pipes and the whole installation probably dated back to ancient times so perhaps it was enough to wait a bit longer until water got warmer. I was probably standing there for 10 minutes or so and nothing. I lost my nerve and not considering that I was only in a towel in a Muslim country, I ran down the stairs straight to the reception desk.
-You said you have hot water, eh? It’s cold and you are liar.
– No Madame it’s hot.
– No it’s not. I have been already in a shower upstairs and it’s cold.
-Upstairs? Are you sure you were in bathroom?
Well, dude you must be joking asking me if I know how a bathroom looks like. We went upstairs. I show him a shower and he bursts into laughter.
-But Madame this is not a shower. Shower is on opposite side of building.
– Not a shower? So what?
The man didn’t answer. He only smiled and pointed his finger to a john. Then I got enlightened. I was in a toilet. I found out later that they usually don’t use toilet paper here but their own hand. The bucket and a tap are there to wash the hand. That’s why you can’t offer them your left hand to shake as it’s offensive. This hand serves one purpose only. Figure it out yourselves what purpose I’m talking about. So, don’t be surprised that besides a john, and mostly rather a hole in the ground, there’s a tap with a bucket. The hotel tap simply had a long hose and was hanged high on a wall which could be misleading. So be careful with showers in Morocco as appearances can be deceiving. Fortunately a real shower had warm water.