Touts are ubiquitous - worst in the big medina cities of Fes and Marrakesh.  Best strategy is to ignore them - boys or men - just pretend they don't exist.  Don't talk to them when they say "bon jour; ca va"; say nothing.  They'll get discouraged and leave.
     If you need directions, and you will, ask a shopkeeper (who can't leave his stall) or a cop (who will salute you) or a soldier.  (Cops are everywhere, stopping cars, taxis and trucks for the slightest infraction - or at random.)
     The tout's objective is to gain your confidence and lead you to a store where he will get a commission.  If a 2 meter x 3 meter kilim (asking price 1000 Dhs per square meter) sells for half the asking price and the tout gets 25% commission, that's 750 Dhs - a bonanza.  His fallback is to get a few Dhs for guiding you about, but 10 or 20 Dhs that I was giving for a short time - or even 50 that you might give - doesn't compare.

Sometimes touts/guides are necessary - in the confusing alleys of the mellahs of Amazrou or Marrakesh, or into the tanneries;  places I was wary of entering and which Gloria wouldn't go near unaided, even if we could have found our way, which we couldn't. And they're necessary when you're hopelessly lost.  And they pick you up no matter what you do - one ploy was to give us directions, and tag along for a while.

     Beggars are everywhere. Not surprising in this poor country; but the army and all the government offices have new buildings everywhere, there are cops everywhere, the king has a palace in every city, the male cripples have hand-pedaled tricycles or what we used to call and "Irish Mail" propelled by moving the steering wheel back and forth.  On the other hand, people depend on bicycles and motor bikes - even the postmen and cops.
     Easiest to deal with  are the boys who run up to you any time you stop moving - especially when you're in a car. They ask for "un Dirham, un stylo, un crayon, un pourboire".  Better they should go to school and learn to earn an honest living.
     The men in the Jemaa Fna in Marrakesh, who annoy you with their clappers and jangle, are just pests.
     Next are the women with babies.  I believe they're not in need and can be ignored.
     The aged and crippled poor probably deserve what your conscience dictates.

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This page last updated December 15, 2001.

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