Danger, "sabot de Denver" in wait !
Beginning recently, several main towns (Rabat, Casablanca) have put parkometers in the city center, working from 8 till 12 and 14 till 19. Don't forget to feed the parkometer, they are closely watched. You might find a nice (!) "sabot de Denver" (colloquial name in France and Morocco for a wheel clamp or Denver boot) fitted on the front wheel of your car ! In each street, there is one, clung to a street light, awaiting it's feed ! If it has bitten your car, you have to phone to a special number and within a few minutes, someone will come and remove the shoe once you have paid 40 dirham (4 euros/dollars). It seems that those that kept the parked cars and that you had to tip have now been given this job !
Thanks to all Vters that answered to my question on the various names of the wheel clamp following the country : Kiwi, ATLC, allikat, seabiscuit, bradbrown, kinga freespirit, iver, RobDavis, DonnaFL, dnwitte, balfor , maxamus and Suet. A special thank to Jeff (VT Seabiscuit) who wrote the following note on the history of the wheel clamp.
The Denver Boot was invented in 1953 by a gentleman by the name of Frank Marugg. Besides being an inventor, he was a musician with the Denver Symphony Orchestra, and a pattern maker. He was a friend to many politicians and police department officials in Denver.
The Denver Sheriff's Department came to him to ask for help with their parking enforcement problem. Frank and the Sheriff decided to build a device to immobilize vehicles whose owners didn’t pay their outstanding parking tickets. He invented and patented the Denver Boot.
Frank was quite a guy, he could build almost anything, he even made his own violin, which he played for the Denver Symphony. The Denver Boot was only one of his brilliant inventions. (Ed. Note: And one of his worst).
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
Drunk people on the streets
when you see a drunk person on the street (something that apart from marrakesh is not very normal in morocco, but you'll see some, dont go near them. drunk people in morocco tend to be very nervous due to the social pressure of islam culture, so people know they are very very wrong, they turn to be very violent.
Be careful going to the area in the region of Ketama, north of the country. these mountains is where in the country they plant marijuana. this can get really dangerous going there and many people are reported to have been robbed a couple of them disapeered.
i had someone trying to take me ove the road with a car. trying to crash their car against mine! can you believe this? in ketama itself when i arrived i had dozens of people surrounding my car asking (not polite people) if i wanted haxixe but very angry people, they even told me, *** your mother!!
so my opinion is that this shouldnt be a place to go if you're not used to morocco. even moroccan people say they dont go there because is dangerous...
watch your back...
Ocean swimming ?
On the Atlantic coast, the ocean is rather cold, there are strong currents and waves, thus bathing in the ocean is not advised everywhere. Be very cautious ! There are hundreds of kilometers of desert splendid beaches but, sorry, they are not for swimming !
Don't accept the many offers for a guide of the city. Most will try and rip you off. Though don’t be rude when turning the down they are probably in desperate need of money. Just tell them that you are fine and know where you are going, thanks.
If you do want guide make sure you pick an official one; they will be carrying a badge. Though as they make money on shop commissions you may be taken to more shops than monuments. Also make sure you negotiate the price before accepting and give them a clear idea of the types of things you want to see.Related to:
When you stop on the road side, there will often be children that will rush towards you after a few minutes. Some years ago, they always asked for money (''dirham'' or ''fluz'') or pens (''stylo'') and could be a real nuisance if you want to take photos of the countryside. Now, owing that the average income has increased, that happens seldom, only in remote and poor places. Avoid giving them money for nothing. If you want to give them pens that you have brought with you or candies, check that you have one for each of them. Otherwise, there might be some fighting.
Car "guardians" in Fes
Guy spitting to my feet in Fes after warm discussion Winter 2000, December.
arrived Fes with some friends, we were heading South and decided to show them the beautiful Old Medina. I already knew the city and for me it shouldn't be a problem to find my way into the big labirinth of the old medina, so I just needed a place to park the car. That's what I actually did I parked the car when quickly came a guy asking me for money to guard the car. Of course I was interested in someone guarding my car so I said yes, and the guy quickly said and give me money to guide you cos you'll get lost, and I said no problem cos I know some places. The guy said no and that I should pay him or something would happend to my car!!!!???? what tha hell... I said what? My firned what tha hell are you saying We started discussing loudly and cos I speak a bit of arabic many people were listening. At the end he just spited in to my feet and on top of my car calling me names and saying that if i left my car over there something would happen to it. Can you imagine? And I did wanted to give him money.
Watch your car carefuly
My car crashed in Azrou hotel park Winter 2003, February.
City of Azrou. Hotel La Panorama. Luxury Hotel. I was about to stay for one night and i end up staying for a couple of days because someone just crashed my car on the hotel parking lot that was suposed to be guarded by someone. Big party with very rich people. Many Mercedes, Lexus and 4x4 Mercedes. Big paty on the Hotel with Live music and drinking. The next day, the day of my departure I had my car hit by another. The director of the hotel payed for everything concerning the car. Very nice lady treated us properly and european way. She's french that's why. Don't always think that if you pay someone to look your car or if you have someone's guardian to look after your stuff that nothing's going to happened to it. This Hotel is for me one of the best hotel in Azrou. I was lucky this happened in here cos otherwise I would have to pay for everything.
(on the picture: this last time i went to morocco, and in a certain ocasion i had to park the car very close to another, so just in case that thing happen to me again, i just took a pic of the car parked next to me, if something happen, i had is plate number and situation...)
Understand that dogs in Muslim world are not very well seen. If some dog licks a muslim, The Qur'an says you have to wash yourself many times. Dogs are very bad treated in arab countries becouse of this reason. so they tend to be violent also towards humans of course. watch out...
Girls travelling or living in Morocco
I spent half a year in Fez, Morocco, where I lived and studied Arabic at an institute. I had a really great time there, and fell in love with the country. I would go back there any time, even for longer, but nevertheless there are a few things that girls might want to know.
The hassling in Morocco by men is quite considerable. Don't think you'll get around it or just brush it off. Even some Muslim girls from England that I knew, and that even wore Hijab, got hassled (although not as much). They are able to easily pick you out as a foreign girl and think they can say things to you that you would rather not hear, at least not all the time.
I dressed modestly in Morocco, long pants, long sleeves, nothing provoking really, and I guess without this care the hassling might have been even worse. But of course I have fair skin and red hair and was bothered every day. The walk from my apartment to the school took about 20 minutes. Once I counted how many times a man said something to me - 26 times!
There are days when you can take it well and ignore it, and other when it makes you really angry and helpless. I don't think it is hardly ever dangerous, only once or twice did someone attempt to touch me, but it really really gets on your nerves. They usually call "sexy girl" and other things after you, and it really is the tone of voice that angers you.
I believe in cultural tolerance and all, but do believe that this kind of behavious is still simply bad behaviour. There is no reason to do this. See my advice in the next tip!Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Study Abroad
Continuation - girls travelling in Morocco
There are a few things that you can do that can help you make it more bearable:
1. Dress modestly. No short sleeves or miniskirts. On the other hand, you don't have to wear a headscarf,
2. You can wear sunglasses. That way you catch peoples' eyes much less easily and they won't say anything as often.
3. Wear a walkman. Whether you listen to music or not, this will either blot out the comments or preempt them in the first place.
4. Always have a self-confident walk, always appear like you know exactly where you're going and what you're doing. This way fewer people will feel like they can do with you what they want.
5. Walking with a guy helps. As soon as I was walking together with one of the guys from the institute, all the hassling miraculously stopped. This way, western men rarely ever know just how much single girls get hassled.
You'll have fun in Morocco!Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Women's Travel
Whatever you do don’t drink the tap water. When you go to a restaurant and order water make sure it comes in a bottle or that you see them break the seal and pour it for you. Also be careful when you buy bottled water; always check the seal because sometimes they fill up a mineral water bottle with tap water and sell it!!! This happened to me once, and although I was ill and thirsty I had to throw the whole thing away. Try to avoid buying water from street venders and buy it in shops instead.Related to:
Cover up a little
Morocco is in many way both a conservative and very westernized country. Almost all extremes can be found. You'll find women in jellabahs, completey veiled, just hijab, or in modern skin-tight clothing.
In general, you don't have to dress too conservatively. You'll get hassled in Fes no matter whether you are covered up a lot or not. They will recognze that you're a foreigner, and that's enough.
However, there are still degrees is hassling. Occasionally in Fes, you will see groups of foreign girls wearing mini-skirts and spaghetti strap shirts, i.e. exactly as they would be dressed in their own countries. This is not suitable and you will also feel the effect of it quickly. I never wore as little as this, but still noticed that the hassling increased even if wore short sleeves or some skin on my legs showed at all.
Basically I wore long trousers or skirts and long sleeves. If it's hot, just wear light tunics or blouses - that way you're covered up but don't get too hot. It'll just get you a lot more respect and make it easier to travel.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Study Abroad
relationships with Men in Morocco
Well Rini and Pep, if your experience of Morocco has not included or uncovered the situations that I have been writing and warning about it does not necessarily mean that what Im writing and warning about is not valid - for those that are naiive and 'stupid' in your box that these people then go into if they do get involved I think that its not a bad idea to somehow give some sort of info that this sort of thing is happening - as there are many naiive women getting involved and Ive had an unusual number of experiences and years in Morocco to see a lot that a lot of normal travellers would not get to see or realise.
I know a number of women too who have been affected by the rort and its a rather professional wide scale rort - that can be beyond many normal tourists or travellers understanding of it happening - and Im not talking about not understanding that bad happens anywhere in the world - there are warnings in the Lonely Planet and other travel guides that give a fair coverage of this situation and I had read it myself prior to going and being in Morocco and in hindsight could not grasp on how fully fledged and deep rooted those issues do actually go and thats where Im talking about - that for example of one town in particular almost every acquaintance had ended up marrying a foreigner and had left the country - and I had seen many of them playing around, juggling, and been advised by other women that I had come into contact with of their chat-ups when the guy in question was waiting for his visa to come through to go off to be with his bride.
and these women will be women who 3 or 4 years later will find out that their husband/partner has got his passport and enough financial foundation to leave her and go back to Morocco to his Moroccan family and future bride.
and this is only part of it.
and if your opinion is that it is not really worth paying much attention to this subject well of course I agree but it is to the relevant parties - I have Moroccan friends and European men who live in Morocco who say the same - that women/foreign women should be aware that there are many out there not to trust as far as a relationship go and there are still many women who unfortunately do get charmed and think that its an okay thing to fall into and not realise just how different it and moroccan male mindset is in comparison to what we understand in some other/western cultures.
Its a poor country, with many men who have difficulty getting employment and a decent income combined with being a beautiful and enticing and rather exotic country that has been opening to tourism and independent travel - add sweet charming men who have learnt how to be sweet and charming and multilingual from a very young age - their body language and words and psyche gets very geared up to make them difficult to read past the sweetness and charm to see that they are manipulating and opportunist. and by pointing that out does not at all negate the beauty of the country or the people in general. Its still a country I spend a lot of time promoting.
so Rini Im not going to apologise for having been found to have written this sort of stuff in my pages and at the same time at other points through the Morocco forums and dont see that it negates what I have written in my pages as Ive had a lot of experience in Morocco and people take it quite freely . It is as valid even if not of the same value as the majority of getting around Morocco information that is also needed.
All the best.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Road Trip
Your travel agent's told you Morocco is dangerous?
Well if he is totally basing his advice giving on opinions rather than bothering to uptodate himself I can understand him saying this sort of thing - Ive been coming to Morocco for the past 7 years and its almost home to me - travelled around a lot of it, been in many different situations and with different levels of society - but growing up in NZ and Australia as world educated and aware as we really are there, and I do often laugh with amazement at the turnout of events - that I am so much at home in Morocco - that I came with the same understanding that its a dangerous country - we grew up in NZ and Australia with that understanding - our families used to really worry when one of our cousins went on a group tour/mission trip there - and then also when another couple of cousins went shock, horror independently!
When Ive read back through Moroccos history, particularly when the French had taken over and were oppressive it was a dangerous country - and during the 60s and 70s it was not strange to read of awful things happening to foreigners here and there - but gradually things have become safer and as far as I can see I totally agree its one of the safest countries, and particularly one of the safest islamic countries in the world.
The instigation of Tourist police in the big city centres has played a big part in this of course.
So as far as a travel agent still coming out with that sort of guff its just plain not bothering to get aware of his destinations or yes just plain lies. Get him onto a tour so he can see for himself! and ive got some very good connections who could get him around seeing it from a more grass roots place and for you too.
But travelling independently is a great way and very enjoyable way to see Morocco. Particularly with a car. There are a lot of locals who have now set up as tour companies and they tend to make nice little groups going around in a 4x4, makes things more personalised, often getting off onto interesting 4x4 required routes and really seeing off the beaten track and what Morocco is all about. But you dont have to do it that way.
If you want to get a guide that can be a good idea too - this can help maximise the time you have there and your experiences as you will generally end up at his families or connections places along the way which can really make your trip.
Have a read around our VTer written travelpages and get some ideas of what youd like to see - and you will get a pretty good idea that its not regarded as a dangerous destination!Related to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
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