“You are walking the wrong way, the big square is that way,” a guy in his early twenties tells me kindly. I smile and start telling him enthusiastically that I just arrived: “Marrakech is a real maze,” I say, “but already enchantingly beautiful. The souks are amazing, it is like you are walking in real life Aladdin or something. Anyway thanks for your help.”
“Where are you from?”
“Allemachtig Prachtig, Mijn naam is Rachid.” When people know three Dutch words and are calling you without a reason, it is very likely they want something from you.
“You want hashish?”
“No, but thanks.”
He starts telling me the right direction when he sees a guy on a scooter. “Oh wait, there is my friend, I am sure he will take you,” he waves me off. “Welcome to Marrakech, my friend!”
We are zig-zagging our way through the crowded alleys and souks. He honks at a car and shouts to a guy with a vegetable cart. I have little sense of direction, but I do know we are going the exact opposite direction of where Rachid had pointed. If I don’t die in a motorbike accident it probably will be with a knife between my ribs in a dark alley in Marrakech. Could be worse.
“Here is the tannery, you can see how leather products are made. Follow me.”
In five minutes he shows me how the leather is washed and how poor men are working in perfume of ammoniac to remove the hairs of the skin.
“And now I will show you the result of the leather production.” I give a wry smile, because I know what is coming. So I tell him that I can’t buy anything.
“Then give me money for the tour.” No. “Yes. It is hot.” No. “Just give me something.” I see four big guys approaching and give him some coins and walk off, straight into the arms of Rachid.
“Hey, you haven’t found the square yet?” He asks happily.
“No your friend brought me to the tannery.”
“It is not a problem, I will take you to the square.”
He walks along for a bit without saying a word and then says: “I can’t take you any further. The square is that direction. Can you give me some money, please?”
“I am sorry but I gave everything to your friend.”
“No problem, welcome to Marrakech.” He walks off, disappointed.
I still have no idea where I am or how to get to my hostel, but I am really enjoying this magical labyrinth experience. Welcome to Marrakech.