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The Moroccans

The Moroccans are a contender for the most argumentative people on the face of the earth but also have a generous, noble nature that would never let a stranger go hungry. They’re very social and men hang out together on the streets all day drinking tea and smoking cigarettes, discussing the latest gossip.

The impression most people get of the Moroccans is that they’re an aggressive bunch of hustlers – which is actually quite accurate as far as the aggressive bunches of hustlers go. See, most travelers in Morocco only ever meet the guides, the hotel managers and the luggage handlers on the buses. And these are some of the most disagreeable people you might ever not want to meet.

Penetrate through this layer of sharp operators though and make contact with the other 95% of the Moroccan population and you’ll be touched and overwhelmed by the reception. Here, as in most places in the Muslim world, the stranger is sent by God and people will consider it their duty to look after you.

It’s become a little difficult to make contact with Moroccans though as it’s illegal for them to talk to you whilst you’re in a tourist zone. Chances are that anywhere near your hotel or in the old parts of the cities, only licenced guides have the legal right to approach you. This law was innovated to cut down the number of cowboy touts but has had the effect of isolating visitors from the local population.

Moroccans eat their meals from one large communal plate with their hands (the right one, naturally) and there’s no such thing as no room at the table. If guests should arrive they simply bring more bread to make the meal go further.

For the indigenous Berbers life can be an uphill struggle. Their own dialects and culture are not respected within their own country and they’re generally looked down upon by the Arab population. Their lower status is in part due to the fact that school lessons are conducted in Arabic whilst at home and with their friends they speak only Berber. The Berbers are generally a lot more relaxed and easy-going than the fiery Arabs.

Whilst there’s more access to information and Western trends in Morocco, the culture is still very tightly-woven and a little claustrophobic for some. Everyone in the neighborhood knows everyone else’s business and there’s not much breathing space for the individual.

Moroccans are pretty lax about time and engagements also. There’s a saying that if you arrange to meet a man at one o’clock. you should turn up at two. You wait until three and then if he hasn’t turned up by four – why, you leave at five.