I realized later that I should have explained that my "very expenisve" lunch was very expensive in DIRHAMS, the Moroccan currency. I had 9 plates of appetizers, a basket of bread, a heaping plate of couscous, veggies and chicken, a plate of fruit for dessert, a pot of mint tea, a 2 liter bottle of water and gratuity included for 180 dirham... or, about 22 dollars. Yay for exchange rates in my favor. This would barely get me a cup of soup and a Guinness in Dubs.
Last night I ventured back out to the Medina center and just got a little cup of Moroccan soup and tea, since I was still full from lunch. Most Moroccans are Muslim and thus forbidden to drink alcohol, so there are not really bars, except in hotels. It is a nice detox after Spain. The national drink is thé a la menthé - delicious mint tea - and they drink it like it is going out of style. I have probably had 20 glasses of it in 2 days. At dinner I met 3 people from Ireland, one of who teaches at BC in the English Lit Dept. Later I met 2 French girls and a French man named Pierre who builds houses here. He was an interesting fellow and had a lot to say about Morocco since he has lived here for a year.
I went to bed pretty early and let myself oversleep this morning, since I have really been going like crazy for a few days. I woke up around 10, did yoga for an hour (thank you iPhone yoga app), then took a leisurely shower and even dried my hair courtesy of the hairdryer that was provided. As I was on my way out, a lady stopped me and beckoned me to sit and brought me breakfast in the form of 8 or 9 plates of deliciousness. There were pancake-like things with the sweetest syrup, fresh marmalade and croissants, a hard boiled egg, cheese, rolls, fresh squeezed orange juice and a pot of tea. Apparently this is included with the price of my hotel - ridiculous.
After stuffing my face with all the "free" food, I headed back to the center of town with a general idea of where I was going. Here, I met Fouad, a Moroccan native who has been studying enigneering in Germany for 3 years and speaks perfect English. We talked for a while and he showed me to a beautiful mosque, a Berber pharmacy, where I got a little lesson on traditional medicine and to this place where the Berber women weave these amazing rugs.
We were getting along nicely and I was thinking how generous Moroccans are, but I just had kind of a bad feeling about him. I did not feel in danger, really, I just felt uncomfortable and wanted him to go away, but I did not know how to say this without sounding really rude. Finally, I asked what time it was and told him I was meeting Jorge and Teresa, my Spanish friends, for lunch. Luckily, itwas about a half hour to the time I said I was meeting them, so he showed me the way back.
And the truth comes out: exactly how much did I think this little tour was worth?
Now, shame on me, because I KNEW something was up and I should have trusted my instinct which is ALWAYS right, but shame on him for putting on this little buddy-buddy masquerade. Yesterday, several people helped me out, showed me around, and none of them expected money - so I thought it possible that this might just be customary politeness.
Did I pay him? HELLLLLLLLLLL No.
Instead, my inner sassy black woman came out and I delivered an impassioned soliloquy about how his behavior was sneaky, under-handed, dishonest, rude, and insulting and told him that in a proper business transaction, you agree on a price FIRST, then deliver the services. You do NOT pretend to be my friend and then demand money. He was obviously furious and got even more insulted when I offered him no more than 20 dh (he wanted 120) and I told him that was all he deserved for being sneaky and dishonest. At this point I was REALLY pissed off and just wanted him to go away so I started yelling and whipped up a few tears (thank you acting lessons) knowing full well that it is illegal in Morocco to harass tourists and that he would be arrested if a police officer saw him as I dragged him back to the center of town yelling and making a scene. Eventually he realized this too, cursed me and ran off.
I was a little shaken by the whole situation, so then I went back and changed my clothes and took a little nap. I am heading back out now and praying that I do not run into my little friend during the next two days that I am here. So, not a great experience, however, I did get to see some really cool stuff today and cannot wait to show you all the pictures. I have met so many wonderful people on my travels, so I cannot really complain about the occasional bad apple. I do not really think he was a bad guy, either, it was more just an understanding since he was not totally upfront with me from the beginning. If he had told me at the onset, I might have agreed to let him be my guide and would have paid him. It was really more just the principle of the matter. I told him to let this be a lesson to him that Americans talk business first, you do not spring it on them at the end. So that is that. I am of in search of some real friends and more food now...