Yep, I went to Morocco…in a very hot August…alone with another woman…with my regular wardrobe… no real itinerary or guide…and NO CLUE. I should have known what was in store when the two (apparently local) young men on the last leg of our flight in a small regional jet spent almost 40 minutes snickering at us. Maybe I really should have figured it out by the time we walked to dinner in the small town of Agadir on our first night – a group of men walked by us and the oldest of them stopped, pushed my shoulder so hard I almost fell, and yelled, “You are BEAUTIFUUUUUL!” while he pointed at me.
Now, I’m not homely by any stretch, but my companion for that trip is truly beautiful in a petite Nicole Kidman sort of way, and is about 12 years younger than I am. Men always pay her tons of attention, but in this setting, I seemed to be the focus. I’m thinking, uh, hello…fluffy middle-aged woman here! What, is that guy blind?
The next few days were not much different. Obviously, two very pale women stand out in a country of mostly dark skinned people. Everywhere we went my big blonde hair was like a L’Oreal beacon, drawing in men who yelled at us, asking if we spoke French, German, English…ohhhhhh…you are AMERICAN! (We were told later that American women are known for being ‘easy’…who knew?) Once the gawkers figured out our nationality, it was game on. We learned quickly to not make eye contact and just keep walking…mouthing ‘oh my god’ to one another. I think it was on that day that my friend dubbed me ‘Arab Kryptonite’. I tried to wield my power carefully, but it seemed to be pretty potent stuff.
Somewhere in my trip planning I had picked up a sundress…well, it was more of a mumu, in truth. When I look at the pictures from the trip, this hideous smocky, tenty thing is probably the most unattractive outfit I’ve ever worn. I figured, damn, this oughta protect me, it’s more like a burka than anything else I own, so I wore it for a long day of sightseeing. NOPE. Not only did it not seem to shield the innocent locals from my curvy blonde ‘American bad girl’ aura, it may have actually added fuel to the already radioactive fire. They couldn’t help themselves, I was told. “Your beauty is too great!” said a small Berber man before he tried to get wayyyyy too close. It certainly wasn’t effective with the old man waiting by the roadside with camels for tourists to pose on. We only rode for about 20 yards, turned, and as I was wondering why he just handed me the rope lead for my camel, he slapped my camel’s butt to make it gallop! Now, my friend’s ride just plodded along, but there I was, boobs and everything else bouncing all over the place, eliciting a round of cheers from the other camel guys who were hanging around in the shade of a nearby palm tree. After the camel finally stopped, the guide then managed to accidentally lift up my tent-like skirt (in the direction of the peanut gallery, of course) as he helped me dismount.
Needless to say, I didn’t even bother to wear the mumu on the day we saw the famed ‘goats in trees’. It wouldn’t have stopped the thin middle-aged man in traditional Berber robes and orange Crocs who posed with us and his goats…his hand grabbing my ass as the picture was snapped. My only consolation was that he also grabbed my friend’s butt, so maybe my powers were fading? Oh, and in case you’re wondering about this much written about wonder of Morocco: Yes, there were goats in these argon trees. Do they climb the trees….not so sure about that!
Nope. In Essaouria, a beautiful coastal town, we swam among children and burka-clad women, their water logged drapes billowing out around them. My own suit was a one-piece black one that I dubbed my ‘mom bathing suit’. With my hair piled on my head and crowned with sunglasses, my eyes ringed by smudged (ooops, shoulda taken it off first ) mascara, not to mention my allover uber whiteness…well, it must have made quite the picture. We waded out to shoulder depth in the calm waters. Suddenly we started feeling that we were being watched. Then touched! Several men had started diving from yards away, swimming past us, grabbing at our legs and I actually felt a hand on my ASS. We dog-paddled away from them, later saying that we “swam for our lives!” after evoking the “dun dun….dun dun” from Jaws.
A few minutes later, my friend said, “Um, Tammy…you seem to have a fan club.” I glanced around and realized that a ring of six or seven boys ranging in age from maybe 8 to 13 was forming around me, closing in by the second. I can only imagine the panicked look on my face, when suddenly I felt a hand on my…well I think Grandmama would call it my ‘lady parts’. Seconds later the brown face of a boy of maybe 9 popped up right next to me, laughing hysterically! My reflexes kicked in and I pushed him…hard. I just remember my friend grabbing my hand and pulling me toward shore…I think she was worried that I’d started an international incident! A sweet old woman scolded the boys and they dispersed. She spoke some English and told us that she blamed the video games, but we knew that osmosis was a much stronger teacher.
As we moved farther north in the country, my appeal thankfully cooled off a little. The bigger cities of Marakesh and Casa Blanca were more sophisticated, and more women wore western clothes. My friend was once more the focus of attention, and my blonde locks lost their power…whew! Well, at least until we ate at a restaurant with a local who knew the employees. He introduced us to our handsome young waiter, who within 5 minutes had offered to be my man for the trip, “…just in case you need one!”