Experiences in Marocco

Khitos_Marokko-6A couple of weeks ago I was in Marocco, visited Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakesh. What I noticed in my behaviour is that I was very wary of my camera. You have to be that way, always. I think you can’t feel really safe anywhere you are, whether you are in your country or somewhere else. It can always happen that somebody sees your camera gear and wants to steal it. In an unknown country, however, I get very cautious and get a little paranoid, especially in not too touristy areas of the city, i.e. small streets, where the common people always tell you that this and that street are closed and I had to go the other way (yes, that happened). It is a kind of paranoid time, where you think you definately get mobbed. The same happened in Thailand, where a taxi brought me off the main street and stopped at a remote place for a few minutes. Besides having my gear stolen I thought I get physically hurt. Anyway, that’s another story 😀

In Marocco it’s even more weird having a camera out, because I was there with my girlfriend and that means that a lot of men will be looking at us. This is a common way of living there. Every woman outside of Marocco are seen as exotic. So we where looked at and so my camera, which I often put away, so it would not be so noteworthy to others.

This all can be my own fear of having things stolen or the actual case of real danger. Nothing happend, thank god (or other imaginary creatures). In Marocco I mostly took photos of the street, no asking strangers to pose or something like that. I’ve read a lot about the conservative nature of the people. They do not want to get photographed as easily as european people maybe and especially not in their religious surroundings. I kinda needed to learn that with this research and I did not try to offend them in any way. One small story was in the mosque Hassan II, the second biggest mosque in the world. There are only muslim men allowed in. If you saw my photo on my About Me page you can see that I do not exactly look muslim like the other maroccan people. In fact, I am muslim, on paper anyways. And I really wanted to get into the mosque! First I tried to get in with the dslr, but of course they would not let me. Then I just walked in (after some discussion with one guy if I am muslim or not…) with an iPhone in my pocket. Inside I did not want to take pictures right away, rather wait until everybody prays and then take them. I could not imagine how they would behave if I just went in to take photos after I told them I could pray (which I can’t, not in the proper way anyway). After a few minutes sitting down at the end of the hallway I saw another young guy grabbing his phone and taking photos. I observed him a little, the others as well. The other men were not even praying, they talked or just lay down and cooled off from the hot sun. So I felt a little more comfortable to take photos as well. I still could not walk as freely as I wanted to, so they were just snapshots to hold the visit in my memory.

After some time I thought that I could not possibly stay there for too long, so I went out with a bit of a rushing heartbeat. I did it 😀 This was one of the experiences I had with the more religious side of things in Marocco. It was nothing compared to Thailand, where it is so normal to take photos inside the temples. The reason may well be the amount of tourists and the culture to nourish them. Marocco is not up to this standard and that is good. With this it will stay not too touristy and still a little more dangerous to take photographs, I guess. In any case, if you just be discrete, don’t offend people, then it should be alright – just like any other place in the world.