North Africa's Arabian Arcadia
The biggest problems that you are likely to encounter in Morocco are from scams and people who pester you. You should always keep your wits about you, but don't let being on your guard stop you from getting to know Moroccan people, or accepting any offers of genuine hospitality. If you adopt the right strategies in the first place, then you can prevent problems from happening. One of the biggest scams you need to look out for in Morocco are the false guides, who congregate around tourist areas and will offer to show you around the Medinas, help you find accommodation, take you to a handicraft warehouse, or even get some drugs. These men can often be harmless. Nevertheless, you should not accept drugs or other products from them. Be polite, but make it clear if you're not interested in their services, and if they get too persistent, head for a taxi, salon de the, or into the nearest shop. Usually, the proprietor of the business will get rid of them for you. One way way to avoid false guides is not to make eye contact and ignore them. Another is to walk quickly away. The Arabic word La (meaning No) can be particularly effective in rebutting any advances from a false guide, as can Ith'hab! (Go Away!). If you do end up engaging in a conversation, you will find it incredibly difficult to get rid of them. Many false guides, for example, will pretend they are students when they approach you and that they just want to practice their English and learn about your culture. If you follow them, you will almost certainly end up in a carpet or souvenir shop. Another tactic is to show you an English letter and ask you to translate it for them, or they may ask for you to help their English speaking friend or relative etc abroad. They may tell you that everywhere is 'closed'. This will almost certainly not be the case, but a trick to get you to follow them instead. You should not do this, neither should you accept 'free gifts' from vendors. The next step invariably is that a group of people will approach you and accuse you of stealing it and will extort money from you. Drugs are another favourite of scam artists. In cities around the Rif Mountains, especially Tetouan and Chefchaouen, you will almost certainly be offered kif (hashish). Some dealers will sell you the hashish, then turn you in to the police for a cut of the baksheesh you will invariably have to pay to bribe your way out of trouble.