Morocco is such a beautiful country : beautiful landscape, a diverse nature, mountains, a gorgeous Sahara desert, a vibrant culture, souks and Riads that look like they’re the scenery of an Arabian fairy tale, a rich musical multiplicity, delicious food… The culture of Morocco is a melting pot of Arab, Berber, Mediteranean, African, Andalusian and Hispanic cultures. So there’s no surprise that millions of tourists visit the country each year, Morocco’s economy is actually based on tourism. But the culture shock might sometimes be huge. So I thought I could help the internet community with these 7, very useful, things to know about Morocco before visiting the country for the first time, so as to avoid the cultural shock barrier and spend the most enjoyable time in the Moroccan land.
- Morocco is a third world country. Big cities might have all the latest technologies and buildings, but poverty is a real crisis in the country so you might see it a lot, especially if you visit the medina, where 70% of people there are either deprived or in an unstable condition. So seeing beggars, fake tourist guides asking for money, people laying in the streets… can be a drawback to some, but hey it’s the reality of thousands of people, not only in Morocco but all around the world. But don’t fall into the trap of encouraging such behaviours, if you want to help that miserable lady with her child at the corner of the souk, get her child to a school or childcare association instead of giving her easy money, she won’t use it to sort her way out of begging but keep believing everyone will just hand her money out of pity without her ever considering looking for a job. (Some extreme beggars borrow children and force them to ask for money, work in prostitution, run ‘slumdog’ mafias.. so don’t help financing it by any ways, if you want to give back to the world or help improve people’s situation, volunteer at organizations and donate to certified Ngo’s and associations, they will help, support and efficiently look for ways to end this phenomenon).
- If it’s not pasta, lasagna, soup, steak, or if they’re not eating a fancy dish.. people will certainly, without an ounce of doubt, eat with their hands. So 80% of the food you’ll get will come with tons of bread and no forks or knives so that you can ‘dive’ in the dish, literally. The ‘way too famous’ Tajine as an example is served in one big plate and everyone picks a piece of bread and starts eating as a sign of love and trust in his peers eating with him. Moroccan culture is really about the community and family rather than individualism, so it runs in the blood of everyone that some meals such as lunch should be eaten with the family in the same plate so as everyone can get the same amount of food and that all hands, no matter their differences, share the dish as one. Some may like it, accept it, try it… others may think eating with hands is nasty. But in the end, you’re the tourist, so either you accept that people have different customs, or you don’t.