I’ve recently been on a yoga holiday to Marrakech. A first for me, for Marrakech and Yoga. Two key things struck me.
Firstly everyone in Marrakech is a salesperson… you can’t move without being coerced into buying something: a scarf, a tagine, a full body ‘remove all of your skin’ body scrub and all kinds of live animals – all at the best price lady, honest.
And secondly even when you don’t think you are being sold to, you’re still buying something. Take a photo of a snake charmer – 10 dirhams please, walk past a performing monkey – 10 dirhams please, get lost on your way back to your Riad 20 dirhams please.
So it made me think. Yes I felt constantly harassed and a little pressured at times. But I was the outsider, once I understood the way things worked I settled right into the flow. The key thing for me was that after years of tourism they have studied their audience and worked out how best to interact with them. Even if sometimes this was definitely over-engineered and at times a bit overwhelming.
So I managed to barter my way to some ‘best prices’ for the tagines, scarfs, and body scrub – yes I succumbed. But I was also coerced into paying for pictures of snakes and some directions back to my Riad that I hadn’t intended… but actually didn’t mind paying for in the end. After all when you’ve walked the same route 5 times and have lots of street traders smirking at you and a line of children following you ‘pied piper’ style, you don’t really mind paying a small fee for one of them to show you the way home… best price lady, indeed!