Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tourism In Africa"MOROCCO"

"The Soul of Morocco:Fez"
After tackling the fouls found in “Soul of Morocco”, I thought I would check to see what other people thought about Sherwood’s article.Taamarbuuta states that she takes issue with calling Fez “the soul” of Morocco and seeking myths. It make sense to me. How did Mr. Sherwood decide that Fez is the soul of Morocco and made the rest to be the body, the uninteresting?I found some confusing stuff somewhere else. In the view from Fes, I noticed that they (or he) had a series of Travel Writing criticism. Some they (or he) liked:” It is refreshing from to come across travel writing that looks a little beneath the orientalist-fantasy stereotype”, and some they (or he) didn’t like: “Why do they bother? That could be the question asked about so many stories written about Morocco. Time and again they pull out the tired old clichés about "mystery" and "romance" and miss the real story”. Simultaneously, they (or he) disapproved of what Taamarbuuta’s expressed in her analysis and describes Sherwood’s article as “splendid”!One thing to say to those who believe that Fez is different: What made Marrakech Marrakech is making Fez the new Marrakech. So, No more of that Everything Morocco uncovers the secret contest: “Fez has been named the Soul of Morocco - it makes you wonder if there is a contest out there we don't know about yet!”Ms. Morocco Time goes on like this: “While I dearly love Fes, this man (Mr. Seffar) has a very typical Fassi mindset. He forgets the thousands of years of Amazigh that’s still in evidence in hundreds of little Berber villages across the Atlas, not to mention all the various unique aspects of other Arab areas in Morocco - Khemisset, Nador, Oujda, Safi… There’s still a lot of “authentic” Morocco to be found outside the main tourist areas - which, by the way, includes Fes and its knobby-kneed crowds of French gawkers."“Fassi mindset”, Ms. Morocco Time, there is no such thing. Fez is a mix of Arabs and Amazigh (and foreigner from all over the world now). We should not forget that Amazigh were here in what’s known as Fez before Arabs, and their mindset is just like the mindset of people from Tinrhir :) That dude interviewed in the article is a meta-orientalist and a producer of orientalist discourse on his own people and city, you find people like him in Meknes, Marrakech ...


I love Morocco, but I've always called Tangier the Tijuana of Africa. That has changed.
Tangier was a neglected hellhole for a generation. It was an international city -- favored by the West and, therefore, disdained by the last king of Morocco, who made it a point to divert national investment away from Morocco's fourth city.
The new king, Mohammed VI, who took the throne in 1999, believes Tangier should be a great city once again. The first city he visited after his coronation was Tangier. The difference -- as you'll see when you visit -- is breathtaking. The place is still exotic, but restorations are taking place on a grand scale. The beach has been painstakingly cleaned, pedestrian promenades are popping up everywhere, and gardens bloom with lush, new greenery.
The hotels -- and their staffs -- are still quirky. Recently, when I checked into Hotel Continental, flamboyant Jimmy greeted me. On a previous visit, six or seven years ago, I told him I was from Seattle. He said, "206." Now I test him again, saying I'm from Seattle. He says, "206, 360, 425 -- new area codes." Jimmy knows every telephone area code in the United States.
Hotel Continental has you looking for the characters from "The English Patient." Gramophones gather dust on dressers under dingy lights. A serene woman paints a figure eight in the loose tiles with her mop, day after day, surrounded by dilapidation that never goes away. As I updated the information in my guidebook, I found a rare and nonchalant incompetence. My guidebook listed the hotel's phone and e-mail data more accurately than its own printed material did. It's a 70-room hotel with not a sheet of paper in its office.
Roosters and the call to prayer worked together to wake me, along with the rest of the world. When the sun was high enough to send a rainbow plunging into the harbor amid ferries busily coming and going, I stood on my balcony and surveyed Tangier kicking into gear. Women in colorful flowing robes walked to sweatshops adjacent to the port -- happy to earn $8 a day sewing for big-name European clothing lines.
It's an exciting time in Morocco. The king is modernizing. His queen was a commoner; Moroccans say she's the first to be seen in public. They have never seen the king's mother. They actually don't even know what she looks like. Walking the streets, you see a modest new affluence, lots of vision and energy, all without diluting the Arab culture.
Moroccans don't seem to emulate or even care about the United States. Al-Jazeera blares on teahouse TVs -- with stirring images of American atrocities inflicted on fellow Muslims. But people seem numb to the propaganda. I felt not a hint of animosity toward me as an American -- something I had been concerned about. There was no political edge to any graffiti or posters. It's a rare place where signs are in three languages, English not making the cut (it's Arabic, French and Spanish).
The market scene is a wonderland of everything but pork. There are mountains of brilliant olives, a full palette of spices, children with knives happy to perform for my camera. Each animal is slaughtered in accordance with halal: drained of its blood with a sharp knife, with its head pointed toward Mecca in the name of Allah.
Until now I've recommended that day-trippers from Spain take the organized tour (with all the groups from Spain's Costa del Sol). A guide meets you at the ferry after the hourlong ride from Spain, and they take you on a bus tour of the city, walk through the old town and stage a few Kodak moments: camel ride, snake charmer and Atlas mountain tribal musicians. Then you go to a restaurant that has a live band and a belly dancer (which has nothing to do with Moroccan culture -- but tourists don't seem to care). Finally, you visit a big shop. They must make a healthy commission, because the round-trip ferry ride with the tour (about $70) costs essentially the same as the round-trip ferry ride without the tour.
During my stay I met gracious Moroccans eager to talk and share. About the only time I saw other Western tourists was when I crossed paths with one of the day-tripping tour groups. Those on the tours walked in tight single file, clutching their purses and day bags nervously to their bellies like paranoid kangaroos, as they bundled past one last line of street merchants to get safely back onto the ferry to Europe.
I was so comfortable, and they were so nervous and embattled, that the scene reminded me of some kind of self-inflicted hostage crisis. Do yourself a favor -- visit Tangier on your own.
"Am I safe in morocco?"
Go to any travel forum and you’ll find questions just like this. The age and nationality (but never the hair color) vary, but the questions follow the same pattern of sheer, utter terror when it comes to visiting Morocco. Although my true desire is to scream, “NO, YOU’RE NOT! DON’T COME!” my honesty and desire for money to filter into Morocco gets the best of me and I only reply in a slightly snarky manner.
The most absurd thing, however, is how defensive I get of Moroccans when this question is asked. I mean, the truth is that I always feel SAFE in Morocco, but I certainly don’t always feel at ease, relaxed, comfortable, unbothered, or any number of other delightful adjectives. So why my defense? There’s a number of reasons.
1 And people say Moroccans treat tourists badly.
Which is not entirely untrue, of course. Moroccans frequently up their prices threefold for tourists (which is in my opinion justifiable, but that’s not the point); tourists, on the other hand, often deserve it. Not because they’re so wealthy or anything trite like that - because the tourists treat the Moroccans like crap! This is most prevalent in Marrakech; I remember a time last November…I was in Marrakech for a couple of days for a conference and had a bit of time to shop, so I was running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to find the exact items I needed. At my last stop, intent on buying two Moroccan shirts, I waited behind a British tourist purchasing a djellaba. The shopkeeper (as many in Marrakech do) spoke perfect English and told her the djellaba would cost 300 dirhams. She, of course, found this price absurd and took the advice of the guidebooks and bargained. “200,” she said. Now, any veteran knows that it’s important for anyone, tourist or otherwise, to cut the initial cost in half to start one’s bargaining, but regardless, she did her duty. The man replied, “290,” not being a man of large increments. After a bit of back and forth, they eventually agreed on 250 dirhams which is a decent price for a Brit if you ask me. The woman stepped out of the shop for a moment to speak with her friend (small shop, nowhere to stand) then returned and said “I only have 200 dirhams.” Djellaba already in hand, she gave the man the cash and walked out before he had a chance to say anything.
My eyes must have been popping out of my head, because the man laughed and said it happens all the time. And then, after engaging him in a brief, simple and polite Arabic conversation, he priced each shirt I’d chosen at 50 dirhams each (which is extremely reasonable for a tourist). I said “45 each,” he said “done” and I went on my merry way, knowing that I’d just paid somewhere around what my husband would pay in another city. Which brings me to my second point…
2 - Bitch, please. The whole world doesn’t have to speak English.
This coming from me, a girl who just recently picked up a second language, and not even fluently. Even better - I don’t speak anything fluently aside from English, but I manage to garner respect no matter where I travel. It’s really not too difficult - learn “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “how much,” and the numbers in any language, and you’re good to go. Now, I can’t say I always play by this rule - when visiting Germany and the Czech Republic this year, I didn’t get beyond please or thank you because everyone seemed so eager to speak English. There, it was a reasonable request, given that English is the second language of both countries. But in Morocco, where the second language is French, it makes a huge difference if you can speak a few words of that or Arabic.
I’m not a boastful person, however, when I meet other foreigners who’ve just been shopping, I’m always tempted to ask (and sometimes do) how much they paid for items which I’ve purchased in the past. More often than not, I find that I paid somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of what they paid. A “Touareg” scarf, which is priced anywhere between 20 and 50 dirhams in the big cities, should only cost about 15-20 and shouldn’t bleed too badly when washed. Bilgha (babouches), Moroccan slippers, can cost a tourist up to 120dh (depending on quality of course) but should only cost 40-50dh.
Why the discrepancy if we’re all white and look to be about the same income level (and age)? The fact is, if you don’t make the effort to appreciate Morocco and Moroccans (which requires a little bit of language skill), sellers have no reason to respect your wallet. A little “Salam aleikum” will go a long way.
3 - Outside of Agadir, you oughtta leave your shorts at home, girl.
I wish I could show you photographs of some of my Moroccan students. I have a few who saunter into class wearing knee-high stiletto boots, miniskirts, midriff showing, big gaudy earrings, way too much makeup - sometimes I’m almost certain they’re headed to work afterward, if you know what I mean. Sixteen-year-olds! In fact, they’re just exercising one of the few freedoms that teenage girls have - dressing as they like.
You do not have that same freedom. Well, you do of course, but I can guarantee you’re going to get ten times the hassle they do. Why? For one, you’re not Moroccan, two you’re probably not Muslim, and three, you may very well look like the girls they see in those favorites of Western film, girls who tend to have few scruples.
So how can you avoid being mistaken for that kind of girl? Not dressing like that kind of girl, of course. It can be frustrating in some ways, wanting to be yourself and not hold anything back - but I’ve found that being myself even in terms of fashion is possible, if I follow a few ground rules:
-Don’t wear anything that falls more than an inch above the knee (men, just don’t wear shorts please - they look stupid anyway).
-Your breasts are far sexier than your upper arms - worry less about long sleeves and more about cleavage.
-Don’t cover your hair - most Moroccan girls don’t and if you’re not otherwise dressed Islamically, you’ll just look stupid. Besides, hijabis get hit on by Moroccan men too, you know.
-You can be as colorful as you want in your own style, but wearing Moroccan clothes will mostly just make you stand out.
I wear short sleeves, I wear my hair down, I wear jeans nearly every day. I only don a djellaba on the occasional Friday for couscous, and I never wear jewelry other than earrings, my wedding ring, and a small necklace. Am I still myself? Certainly. Am I drawing a whole lot of attention? Well, not for that reason anyway.
"What can you say about morocco?"
Morocco is a linguistically rich country and you can't live here long without noticing it. Or even picking up one or two languages yourself. Although Arabic is the official language, there are two types of Arabic - the classical version based on religion, history and culture and the unique Moroccan dialect known as darija. Most Moroccans know one or the other or both. Most Moroccans are also fluent in a second, sometimes even a third, language. After decades of French administration during the Protectorate era, French is commonly used even today for business and education. Many Moroccans with historically strong ties to France and French culture use the French language more often than Arabic. Spanish is commonly heard throughout the north of Morocco and English is rapidly gaining pace as the next language. All of this without even addressing the Berber dialects being used in the remote regions and villages throughout the country.What is interesting about language, and especially in the context of a country like Morocco, is that language is also an expression of identity and culture. All of us, no matter where we are from, use language to convey our origin, intellect and self-concept. Language expresses who we are in any given situation. Listeners make judgements about us based on how we say what we say. Bilingual people consciously choose the language they speak with another person based on their relationship with that person. For example, we may speak our mother tongue at home in a pure down home dialect that we would never use on the street or with co-workers. In another situation, we would choose the language most pleasing to an elderly relative, or the adopted language to function as a competent, educated professional. It all depends on who we want the listener to think we are at that moment.People who speak several languages often engage in what linguists call code-switching - they mix words from various languages to more precisely express themselves. They do this deliberately yet without consciously thinking about it beforehand. Their brains simply choose from the storehouse of language the words best suited to the occasion. One of my personal favorites is the French word bouleverser meaning to upset something or turn it around/upside down. Nothing in English says it quite like in French. Linguists used to assume code-switching was the result of imperfect understanding of a language, but now they believe it is a sign of superior use and understanding. To our brains, languages are all the same and for communication. That's why small children don't struggle with them. They don't try to analyze or categorize what they learn quite so strictly as older learners. All the words for strawberries are simply all the words for strawberries.

"Other famous place:The Sahara"
The Sahara / MoroccoThe Sahara is the world's largest desert. Only a small part of the Sahara is fertile, where corn, dates and other fruits grow, these parts are fed by underground rivers and oases. The Sahara can be an inspirational experience at night, with the air being crisp, clean and clear, the stars being so close you can almost touch them and a silence that is deafening.The Sahara desert stretches accross much of North Africa covering over 9 000 000 square kilometers (roughly the size of the United States). In fact, the Sahara covers some 30% of the entire African continent. It is the hottest place in the world with summer temperatures that often exceeds 57 degrees Celsius. It has an annual rainfall of 0 - 25 millimeters, and is very windy, with windstorms sweeping up the sand up to 1000 meters high and moving the sand dunes constantly.The Sahara consists of one quarter volcanic mountains, one quarter sand, rocks and gravel-covered plains and small areas of vast permanent vegetation. The vegetation includes shrubs, grasses, and trees in the highland and in the oases along the river beds. Some of the plants are well adjusted to the climate and sprout within three days of rain and sow their seeds within two weeks after that. Only a small part of the Sahara is fertile, where corn, dates and other fruits grow, these parts are fed by underground rivers and oases.Animals in the Sahara are mainly gerbils, cape hare, deer, weasels, baboons, jackals, sand foxes, mongooses, desert hedgehogs and over 300 bird species.The Sahara can be an inspirational experience at night, with the air being crisp, clean and clear, the stars being so close you can almost touch them and a silence that is deafening.

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