I feel like I’m Yasmin from Aladdin. A slightly fatter, less exotic and more anxious Yasmin, but a Yasmin nonetheless. I realise 1001 nights isn’t exactly in Morocco, but sitting in my hostel, which is tiled with beautiful mosaics, I feel like it’s pretty close. I’m in Morocco! I still cannot fully grasp it. I’m in Africa!
My start was a bit rocky, as it usually is. I fully planned on taking the bus to Chefchaouen today, to see my friend. So I take an expensive grand taxi from the airport to the bus station. One which could definitely not be shared with other people, according to guy organizing it for me. I get the car that’s falling apart, which once upon a time had seatbelts and could do with some better seating, but they hold the door open for me. Then we race through Fes. My heart is racing too.
Hello Fes!! Here I am! And here I go again! Or so I thought. At the bus station the lady in the window tells me the bus is full. I feel tears coming up. Full? I panic, buy a ticket for the next day and put on my data to let my friend know and look for a hostel. I immediately switched on my 5EUR a day package that only activates when you use it. Unfortunately it doesn’t activate soon enough and my phone tells me I’ve just spent 60EUR in two minutes. Whyyyy!!!????
Well… hello again Fes! I give up, get into another taxi, which I should have negotiated for, and head for the medina. I’ve read a lot of stories about girls travelling solo and how to handle these medinas. So I put on my sunglasses, stare at the ground and make my way through without looking at anyone. My taxi driver is the nicest guy and gives me perfect directions to my street. I enter the small street and see plenty of tourists. I feel immediately at ease. The first thing someone shouts is “Hey, I like your shoes.”
I find a sign pointing to the hostel and enter the most gorgeous building. There is a courtyard with citrus trees and a fountain with beautiful mosaics. The colours are so vibrant and everywhere are little places to sit. The ceilings are high and the staircases small. I get a bottom bunk with a huge comfy mattress and I take some time to process what’s happening. I am in Morocco. I am not going to Chefchaouen today, but I’m in Fes and the city is waiting.
Still not sure what it’s like to travel solo in Morocco as a female, I cautiously start to wander around the medina. I walk through a long street with vendors everywhere. Many stalls sell perfect souvenirs for next to nothing. I can see myself coming home with a jewellery box full of earrings and necklaces. I walk through the souk where everything is for sale, from running shoes, to chunks of meat and headphones.
I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable. Sure, I attract attention and people try to talk to me, but it’s not much different from in Asia. I’m still constantly aware of what’s happening around me, but I’m ok walking around. I take some random turns and occasionally check my phone so I have an idea about where I am. I find small empty lanes, squares and gates and even a little, dirty stream that goes right through the city.
When I take a photo of the blue gate, a taxi driver approaches me. He tells me about this great deal where he can take me all sorts of places, but when I decline he politely wishes me a good day. There are also people who shout that they want to make me happy or the “Sister, sister, are you lost?”, but nothing truly unpleasant happens. Little boys playing soccer smile at me and yell ‘hello, bonjour’. The smells of tanneries and spices fill the air. In the evening I have a beautiful, if overpriced, meal at my hostel.
Welcome to Morocco Andrea. This is the start of your adventure!