Morocco is quite a popular destination for Europeans, as it’s quite affordable, good weather, and a different culture that attracts a lot of visitors. However, many of us travelled around the country and got distracted by the colours and smells of the markets, and didn’t realize some very interesting facts about the culture and life of the country. Here’s some 11 very interesting facts about Morocco!
1. Don’t forget to bargain!
Buying in the markets isn’t that simple, you always have to bargain for a good price. In fact, if you don’t do it, it’s kind of disrespectful! So be sure to insist in a lower price, even walk away if you think it’s too expensive, and chances are that the seller will come behind you offering you a better price. It needs some practice, but you get used to it!
2. Praying calls 5 times a day, always at a different time!
Morocco is a Muslim country, that was clear. What might be unclear to most Europeans and Americans is that loud speech you hear coming from speakers everywhere in the cities. Those are the calls for the prayer, which the muezzin of each mosque sings from the minaret five times a day and it’s actually at a different time, because it depends on the sun. Muslims do a sunrise prayer, followed by a noon and afternoon prayers, and later the sunset and night prayers.
3. Does the country stop when it’s prayer time?
Actually no, not all people must go to the mosque or pray 5 times a day. Women who have to take care of their kids may stay at home, and people who are working during the prayer time are not obliged, although we have seen that many businesses will allow their employees to stop working, and some even provide with a praying space. Kids are not obliged either until they become teenagers.
4. You see kids on the streets all they long. Don’t they go to school?
No matter where you are from, you most likely went to school from 9 am to 3pm, or something similar, and every day the same schedule. In Morocco we learnt that each school has a different schedule and it can be different every day of the week. So we saw kids on the strats at any time of the day!
5. Morocco is home to one of the biggest mosques in the world
Hassan II, in Casablanca, is the second largest and highest mosque in the world. Stunning and very, very impressive it was built partially on top of the water in 1994. It has some very modern features, such as lift on the minaret, parking, an opening roof, automatic doors and heated floor! This explains why 700 million euros were spent in building it!
6. There’s always someone ready to be your tour guide. But why do they go in couples?
If you’ve been in Morocco, chances are that you had many locals asking you where are you going, so they could lead you and show you around in exchange for a tip at the end of the tour. But, why do they often bring a friend? We learnt that police is chasing these unofficial guides and giving fines, so the second person is always just watching around and making sure there’s no police on the way!
7. Taxis are cheap, but be ready to squeeze!
Distances in the cities of Morocco aren’t so big, most of the times you can walk. But moving around by taxi is very affordable, most rides will cost less than a euro. But make sure you always agree the price upfront! They are good at scamming tourists. Also, don’t be scared if your taxi stops anywhere on the way: in Morocco, it’s usual to share the ride with other people. Normally this should make the ride a bit cheaper as well!
8. How do all merchants pay taxes for their business?
Streets in Morocco are full of market stands everywhere. Some of them, like the big markets in Marrakech, are more regulated and they pay taxes as they are kind of a shop, a normal business. However, there are many non-regulated stands from merchants that simply buy and sell goods, specially fruits. These are not paying any taxes, and don’t seem to be very worried about it…. Easy to start a business like that!
9. They water the streets on the markets. Will they grow plants on the roads?
Every early morning, the owners of the stands in the markets water the street around their shop. This is to keep the environment fresh and cold, at least a little bit, and to keep the dust on the ground. Be glad they do this, otherwise the air would be unbreathable….
1o. You can buy fresh meat in every market. But maybe you don’t want to…
Every now and then, in the markets, you will find a group of cats all looking towards the same direction. Most likely, the butchery is there! The meat is indeed very fresh: on the display you can find the chicken meat. Behind the display, you can find the chickens. Alive. Everything happens in the same 2 square meters. We didn’t dare to buy any meat….
11. Bring your own serum. Really.
Chances you will get sick in Morocco are, sadly, quite high. Even if you take all the precautions, drink only bottled water, wash your hands, and so on… Of course we were aware of this, and packed medicines with us to stop the usual traveller’s diarrhea. However, we didn’t take serum packs to keep us hydrated, and when we tried to buy it in 7 different pharmacies, they all looked strange at us and told us they don’t sell such thing. Very strange, because we could even get antibiotics without a problem… They told us they recently stopped selling serum in the whole country. If someone knows why, please let us know!