Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Travel writing about Morocco - part nine.

Continuing our review of travel writing about Morocco we came across an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Sarah Maguire. Sarah had been on a package tour as a guest of the company, so she obviously enjoyed herself despite paying an outrageous price for a small carpet and missing out on the wonderful street food in Fez.

Sadly the writing does not delve beneath the surface and she hasn't checked her facts - the Fez Medina has grown to 12,000 alleys instead of the usual 9,500 and is a century younger than usual - not all that important really and maybe even what she was told by a guide intent on frightening his clients.

Here is an excerpt:

ON A COACH tour, you figure that when your guides issue repeated warnings about the risks that lie ahead, they are aiming them at the most mentally challenged in the group. Because if they warned us once, they warned us a thousand times as we entered the ancient medina in Fez: do not take your eyes off the rest of the group. Otherwise, a 9th-century maze of 12,000 lanes, alleyways and dead-end streets would swallow us up, and no one - not even our omnipresent, all-knowing tour guides - would know where to find us.

And it was not the only misfortune awaiting the tourist: ignore the shout "balak" ("get out of the way") at our peril, we were told, for if we heard it a second time, it would be too late: the mule and his burden, charging through the medina with his driver in a scene more than a thousand years old, would be upon us.

Neither the threat of getting permanently lost nor being fatally trampled deterred any of our group, no matter how old or slow. We were on a 10-day Insight Vacations tour of Morocco, 35 of us from around the Western world, and none of us was going to miss the legendary Fez medina. Besides, we had a guardian angel, a medina local named Mohammed who skirted the group like a sheep dog, urging "please, watch your step" at just about every one we took.

And that is the advantage of an escorted coach tour in a place where the culture is so different it can be intimidating, and where the street food can make you sick and the harassment overwhelm you. You are looked after. Almost like a baby

Read the full story here: SMH Travel Section

Earlier Travel Writing stories:

Travel writing eight
Travel writing Seven
Travel Writing Six
Travel Writing Five
Travel Writing Four
Travel Writing Three
Travel Writing Two
Travel Writing One


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