Difference between revisions of "Morocco"

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|avp = Morocco
 
|avp = Morocco
 
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Hitching in '''Morocco''' is good despite the scarcity of vehicles on some routes. Bring a ''big'' bottle of water, a hat, and maybe a book to read. Many people will not want payment, but it can be hard to avoid the interest of grand taxis (who will definitely want payment). Some Moroccans stick out the index finger instead of the thumb. This gesture indicates the person is willing to pay for the ride.
+
Hitching in '''Morocco''' is good despite the scarcity of vehicles on some routes. Bring a ''big'' bottle of water, a hat, and maybe a book to read. Many people will not want payment, but it can be hard to avoid the interest of grand taxis (who will definitely want payment). Hitchhiking is done by waving one's index finger (not the thumb).
  
 
Compared to the hassle of the cities, hitching in Morocco is a very pleasant experience and a good opportunity to meet some genuine friendly people who ''don't'' want to sell you a carpet. The people for the most part are incredibly generous, intelligent and curious and hitchhikers are able to experience the country’s cultural richness and diversity in a way unavailable to tourists who travel by more conventional means.  
 
Compared to the hassle of the cities, hitching in Morocco is a very pleasant experience and a good opportunity to meet some genuine friendly people who ''don't'' want to sell you a carpet. The people for the most part are incredibly generous, intelligent and curious and hitchhikers are able to experience the country’s cultural richness and diversity in a way unavailable to tourists who travel by more conventional means.  
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== Language ==
 
== Language ==
  
The official language is Arabic though the dialects spoken in Morocco and [[Algeria]] are signifcantly different than Modern Standard Arabic and dialects found in the Middle East and other parts of Africa. French is a common language of business and among educated people and in major cities will be almost universally understood.  Many people in the north speak Spanish. The major Berber languages are fascinating but the effort required to learn them is probably too great for a casual tourist.  
+
The official language is Arabic though the dialects spoken in Morocco and [[Algeria]] are significantly different from Modern Standard Arabic and dialects found in the Middle East and other parts of Africa. French is a common language of business and among educated people and in major cities will be almost universally understood.  Many people in the north speak Spanish. The major Berber languages are fascinating but the effort required to learn them is probably too great for a casual tourist.  
  
While spoken by some educated people and those who work in tourism, English is of little use. Be very careful if approached by someone speaking English, they are often looking to make a profit-legitimate or not.
+
While spoken by some educated people and those who work in tourism, English is of little use. Be very careful if approached by someone speaking English, they are often looking to make a profit, legitimate or not.
  
 
At a minimum you should have basic competence in French. A few words of Arabic will surprise most Moroccans, gain their respect and differentiate you from common tourists.
 
At a minimum you should have basic competence in French. A few words of Arabic will surprise most Moroccans, gain their respect and differentiate you from common tourists.
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== Police ==
 
== Police ==
  
Police in Morocco are a great asset to a hitchhiker. Police roadblocks are common especially when the King is nearby. Approch them respectfully and make conversation and they will probably help you get a ride.  
+
Police in Morocco are a great asset to a hitchhiker. Police roadblocks are common especially when the King is nearby. Approach them respectfully and make conversation and they will probably help you get a ride.  
  
In small towns where it is sometimes difficult to find people who speak French, police officers (who always speak French) are invaluable aides for finding hotels, hammams roads out of town etc.  
+
In small towns where it is sometimes difficult to find people who speak French, police officers (who always speak French) are invaluable aides for finding hotels, ''hammams'', roads out of town etc.  
  
  
 
== Sleeping ==
 
== Sleeping ==
  
Cheap hotels are available in the medinas of most cities for 20-40 Dirham. Expect an uncomfortable mattress, cold communal shower and don’t be surprised if you wake up with bug bites. Hotels are required to see your passport and most will want to hold it until they make a photocopy. There is little danger of a hotel worker stealing your passport but it is a good idea to keep several photocopies with you for peace-of-mind.
+
Cheap hotels are available in the medinas of most cities for 20-40 dirham. Expect an uncomfortable mattress, cold communal shower and don’t be surprised if you wake up with bug bites. Hotels are required to see your passport and most will want to hold it until they make a photocopy. There is little danger of a hotel worker stealing your passport but it is a good idea to keep several photocopies with you for peace-of-mind.
  
 
=== Under the Stars ===
 
=== Under the Stars ===
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Outside most cities and towns are places one can sleep discretely without a tent. Just make sure you get up before dawn. Also be aware that out-of-the-way spots that look like good places to sleep are often used as public toilets. Public parks, where they exist, tend to be “cruising areas” where men meet to have sex.
 
Outside most cities and towns are places one can sleep discretely without a tent. Just make sure you get up before dawn. Also be aware that out-of-the-way spots that look like good places to sleep are often used as public toilets. Public parks, where they exist, tend to be “cruising areas” where men meet to have sex.
  
In some places, especially near trucking routes, are semi-permanent tents made of plastic sheeting wrapped around a timber frames. These are usually empty though you may want to ask first.  
+
In some places, especially near trucking routes, there are semi-permanent tents made of plastic sheeting wrapped around a timber frames. These are usually empty though you may want to ask first.  
  
 
=== Getting invited into people's homes ===
 
=== Getting invited into people's homes ===
  
If you are humble and quiet and kind this will come quite easily. Sometimes the hospitality is exhausting and you may want to take a cheap hotel for some privacy and space to breathe.
+
If you are humble and kind, you will easily receive invitations. Sometimes the hospitality is exhausting and you may want to take a cheap hotel for some privacy and space to breathe.
  
 
== Safety ==
 
== Safety ==
  
 
Because of the importance of tourism to the economy, anyone found physically harming a foreigner is punished severely. Attacks and terrorism against foreigners is extremely rare but due caution is advised. Far more common are a wide range of scams and hustles.
 
Because of the importance of tourism to the economy, anyone found physically harming a foreigner is punished severely. Attacks and terrorism against foreigners is extremely rare but due caution is advised. Far more common are a wide range of scams and hustles.
 
 
  
 
=== Cigarette Scam ===
 
=== Cigarette Scam ===
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Travelers including hitchhikers going to Mauritania are likely to encounter a cigarette scam in southern cities such as Tiznit and especially Guilmeme. Typically the traveler is engaged by a local who inquires about his or her plans for traveling further and after some discussion is told that to avoid delays and harassment at the Mauritanian frontier he should bring a gift of cigarettes. He may also be told that cigarettes are very expensive in Mauritania and/or Western Sahara and with a pack of cigarettes he can buy everything from a fish to a room in a hotel.  
 
Travelers including hitchhikers going to Mauritania are likely to encounter a cigarette scam in southern cities such as Tiznit and especially Guilmeme. Typically the traveler is engaged by a local who inquires about his or her plans for traveling further and after some discussion is told that to avoid delays and harassment at the Mauritanian frontier he should bring a gift of cigarettes. He may also be told that cigarettes are very expensive in Mauritania and/or Western Sahara and with a pack of cigarettes he can buy everything from a fish to a room in a hotel.  
  
The local will then offer to ‘help’ the traveler buy several cartons of cigarettes for a “very good price” of anywhere from 12 to 20 Moroccan Dirham (MAD) per pack (120-200 MAD per carton). The cigarettes he proposes are brands only available on the black market.   
+
The local will then offer to ‘help’ the traveler buy several cartons of cigarettes for a “very good price” of anywhere from 12 to 20 dirham per pack (120-200 MAD per carton). The cigarettes he proposes are brands only available on the black market.   
  
 
These are smuggled from the Canary Islands and come in several brands-the most common being American Legend. The price varies from 6 to 10 MAD per pack depending on the city and the dealer. These are lower quality cigarettes and smoking more than a few tend to give the smoker a sore throat.  
 
These are smuggled from the Canary Islands and come in several brands-the most common being American Legend. The price varies from 6 to 10 MAD per pack depending on the city and the dealer. These are lower quality cigarettes and smoking more than a few tend to give the smoker a sore throat.  
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Locals driving cars usually bring a gift of some sort to help ease the passage into Mauritania but hitchhikers should not expect problems.
 
Locals driving cars usually bring a gift of some sort to help ease the passage into Mauritania but hitchhikers should not expect problems.
 
=== Drugs ===
 
 
Hashish and kif are widely smoked in Morocco. Buying on the street is not advised. Sometimes dealers work with police who will then bust the buyer. More likely you will get low grade product or even henna for an inflated price. At best you will pay a ‘tourist tax’ of at least 500%.
 
 
  
 
== Religion and Politics ==
 
== Religion and Politics ==
  
 
=== Religion ===
 
=== Religion ===
Always be careful about discussing religion and politics while hitchhiking. This is especially true in Morocco. Nearly everyone in Morocco is a Muslim and the religion permeates every part of the culture. Moroccans love to discuss God and a hitchhiker will certainly be asked about his religious beliefs. Muslims recognize Christians and Jews as “people of the book” and are respected—especially if they are knowledgeable about the Bible and can intelligently discuss religion. Claiming to be an atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu or member of some other nonmonotheistic religion is not advised. There is little danger of being beheaded as an infidel but being a believer may mean the difference between being merely tolerated and being welcomed into peoples’ homes. And of course, keep any negative opinions about Islam, Muhammad etc. to yourself.  
+
Always be careful about discussing religion and politics while hitchhiking. This is especially true in Morocco. Nearly everyone in Morocco is a Muslim and the religion permeates every part of the culture. Moroccans love to discuss God and a hitchhiker will certainly be asked about his religious beliefs. Muslims recognize Christians and Jews as “people of the book” and are respected — especially if they are knowledgeable about the Bible and can intelligently discuss religion. Claiming to be an atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu or member of some other non-monotheistic religion is not advised. There is little danger of being beheaded as an infidel but being a believer may mean the difference between being merely tolerated and being welcomed into peoples’ homes. And of course, keep any negative opinions about Islam, Muhammad, etc. to yourself.  
  
 
=== Western Sahara ===
 
=== Western Sahara ===
 
 
 
[[Western Sahara]] is recognized by most countries as occupied territory.  The Kingdom of Morocco and most Moroccans consider it part of Morocco. It is technically illegal in Morocco to assert anything else. From 1976 until 1991 the Polisario waged a civil war for independence. In 1991 the United Nations brokered a cease-fire and an agreement was reached to hold a referendum for independence. The referendum has yet to take place and 60 percent of the Moroccan army is still stationed in the territory. The history and current situation is very complex but a hitchhiker there should be very careful about what he says and to whom. Under no circumstances should you claim or admit to being a journalist or writer. Doing so is asking for trouble, possible arrest and will endanger any Saharawis you are seen with.  
 
[[Western Sahara]] is recognized by most countries as occupied territory.  The Kingdom of Morocco and most Moroccans consider it part of Morocco. It is technically illegal in Morocco to assert anything else. From 1976 until 1991 the Polisario waged a civil war for independence. In 1991 the United Nations brokered a cease-fire and an agreement was reached to hold a referendum for independence. The referendum has yet to take place and 60 percent of the Moroccan army is still stationed in the territory. The history and current situation is very complex but a hitchhiker there should be very careful about what he says and to whom. Under no circumstances should you claim or admit to being a journalist or writer. Doing so is asking for trouble, possible arrest and will endanger any Saharawis you are seen with.  
 
=== The King ===
 
 
Morocco is a Monarchy and King Muhammad V is universally respected if not always liked. You will see his picture in nearly every café, office, shop and more than a few homes. Many consider his father Hassan II a tyrant and his reign is often known by Moroccans as the Black Years. Still, avoid saying anything that could be construed as criticism of any member of the royal family, dead or alive.
 
  
 
=== [[Border crossing]] ===
 
=== [[Border crossing]] ===
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The border to [[Algeria]] is closed.
 
The border to [[Algeria]] is closed.
  
Hitchhiking to Mauritania is suprisingly easy at the Mauritanian embassy in Rabat. Anyone going to Mauritania must stop there first to get the visa (no longer available at the mauritanian border), and you will have many long hours of waiting for the final paper in which to talk to the various drivers going south.
+
Hitchhiking to Mauritania is surprisingly easy at the Mauritanian embassy in Rabat. Anyone going to Mauritania must stop there first to get the visa (no longer available at the mauritanian border), and you will have many long hours of waiting for the final paper in which to talk to the various drivers going south.
  
 
A personal experience with border crossings:
 
A personal experience with border crossings:

Revision as of 04:32, 26 November 2010

Flag of Morocco Morocco
Information
Language: Arabic, French
Capital: Rabat
Population: 33,757,175
Currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD)
Hitchability: Good.png (good)
More info: AVP Free Encyclopedia (Russian)
Meet fellow hitchhikers on Trustroots
<map lat='32' lng='-5' zoom='5' view='3'/>

Hitching in Morocco is good despite the scarcity of vehicles on some routes. Bring a big bottle of water, a hat, and maybe a book to read. Many people will not want payment, but it can be hard to avoid the interest of grand taxis (who will definitely want payment). Hitchhiking is done by waving one's index finger (not the thumb).

Compared to the hassle of the cities, hitching in Morocco is a very pleasant experience and a good opportunity to meet some genuine friendly people who don't want to sell you a carpet. The people for the most part are incredibly generous, intelligent and curious and hitchhikers are able to experience the country’s cultural richness and diversity in a way unavailable to tourists who travel by more conventional means.

Cities

Language

The official language is Arabic though the dialects spoken in Morocco and Algeria are significantly different from Modern Standard Arabic and dialects found in the Middle East and other parts of Africa. French is a common language of business and among educated people and in major cities will be almost universally understood. Many people in the north speak Spanish. The major Berber languages are fascinating but the effort required to learn them is probably too great for a casual tourist.

While spoken by some educated people and those who work in tourism, English is of little use. Be very careful if approached by someone speaking English, they are often looking to make a profit, legitimate or not.

At a minimum you should have basic competence in French. A few words of Arabic will surprise most Moroccans, gain their respect and differentiate you from common tourists.

Police

Police in Morocco are a great asset to a hitchhiker. Police roadblocks are common especially when the King is nearby. Approach them respectfully and make conversation and they will probably help you get a ride.

In small towns where it is sometimes difficult to find people who speak French, police officers (who always speak French) are invaluable aides for finding hotels, hammams, roads out of town etc.


Sleeping

Cheap hotels are available in the medinas of most cities for 20-40 dirham. Expect an uncomfortable mattress, cold communal shower and don’t be surprised if you wake up with bug bites. Hotels are required to see your passport and most will want to hold it until they make a photocopy. There is little danger of a hotel worker stealing your passport but it is a good idea to keep several photocopies with you for peace-of-mind.

Under the Stars

Outside most cities and towns are places one can sleep discretely without a tent. Just make sure you get up before dawn. Also be aware that out-of-the-way spots that look like good places to sleep are often used as public toilets. Public parks, where they exist, tend to be “cruising areas” where men meet to have sex.

In some places, especially near trucking routes, there are semi-permanent tents made of plastic sheeting wrapped around a timber frames. These are usually empty though you may want to ask first.

Getting invited into people's homes

If you are humble and kind, you will easily receive invitations. Sometimes the hospitality is exhausting and you may want to take a cheap hotel for some privacy and space to breathe.

Safety

Because of the importance of tourism to the economy, anyone found physically harming a foreigner is punished severely. Attacks and terrorism against foreigners is extremely rare but due caution is advised. Far more common are a wide range of scams and hustles.

Cigarette Scam

Travelers including hitchhikers going to Mauritania are likely to encounter a cigarette scam in southern cities such as Tiznit and especially Guilmeme. Typically the traveler is engaged by a local who inquires about his or her plans for traveling further and after some discussion is told that to avoid delays and harassment at the Mauritanian frontier he should bring a gift of cigarettes. He may also be told that cigarettes are very expensive in Mauritania and/or Western Sahara and with a pack of cigarettes he can buy everything from a fish to a room in a hotel.

The local will then offer to ‘help’ the traveler buy several cartons of cigarettes for a “very good price” of anywhere from 12 to 20 dirham per pack (120-200 MAD per carton). The cigarettes he proposes are brands only available on the black market.

These are smuggled from the Canary Islands and come in several brands-the most common being American Legend. The price varies from 6 to 10 MAD per pack depending on the city and the dealer. These are lower quality cigarettes and smoking more than a few tend to give the smoker a sore throat.

The scam artist is paying probably no more than 50 MAD per carton (200 cigarettes) and pocketing the rest. The reality is that cigarettes are easily available in Mauritania (in fact usually less than half the price of in Morocco; ranging from 100-400 Ugyia per pack of 20)

Locals driving cars usually bring a gift of some sort to help ease the passage into Mauritania but hitchhikers should not expect problems.

Religion and Politics

Religion

Always be careful about discussing religion and politics while hitchhiking. This is especially true in Morocco. Nearly everyone in Morocco is a Muslim and the religion permeates every part of the culture. Moroccans love to discuss God and a hitchhiker will certainly be asked about his religious beliefs. Muslims recognize Christians and Jews as “people of the book” and are respected — especially if they are knowledgeable about the Bible and can intelligently discuss religion. Claiming to be an atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu or member of some other non-monotheistic religion is not advised. There is little danger of being beheaded as an infidel but being a believer may mean the difference between being merely tolerated and being welcomed into peoples’ homes. And of course, keep any negative opinions about Islam, Muhammad, etc. to yourself.

Western Sahara

Western Sahara is recognized by most countries as occupied territory. The Kingdom of Morocco and most Moroccans consider it part of Morocco. It is technically illegal in Morocco to assert anything else. From 1976 until 1991 the Polisario waged a civil war for independence. In 1991 the United Nations brokered a cease-fire and an agreement was reached to hold a referendum for independence. The referendum has yet to take place and 60 percent of the Moroccan army is still stationed in the territory. The history and current situation is very complex but a hitchhiker there should be very careful about what he says and to whom. Under no circumstances should you claim or admit to being a journalist or writer. Doing so is asking for trouble, possible arrest and will endanger any Saharawis you are seen with.

Border crossing

The border to Algeria is closed.

Hitchhiking to Mauritania is surprisingly easy at the Mauritanian embassy in Rabat. Anyone going to Mauritania must stop there first to get the visa (no longer available at the mauritanian border), and you will have many long hours of waiting for the final paper in which to talk to the various drivers going south.

A personal experience with border crossings:

I was homosexually harassed by an older border policeman while coming from Morocco to Ceuta. I don´t forgive such, so I approached Moroccan consulates in both Malaga and London. In Malaga they obviously protect such criminals and London wasn´t very helpful either. I did send letters to the ministries of tourism and interior affairs, as well as to the border chief but nobody was interested. So, if you really have to come to this country, make sure you don´t cross the borders alone!

Hitchhiking Events

From the LCD:

The 2007 Hitch has just wrapped up with a record-breaking 760 Hitchers completing the 1,600 mile journey to Morocco, and 26 the 800 mile journey to Prague. The Hitch is LCD’s largest fundraising event and hitching the 1600 or 800 miles is a true feat of achievement. All the Hitchers have now safely returned to the UK, but the money is still rolling in.

See Also