Morocco – difficult to love you

I was traveling in Morocco with my classmates in the past week. We had a conversation on the train from Marrakech to Fes about how much money we would need to be convinced to live in Morocco for one year. Although Morocco is a fairly cheap country to live in, the amount of money we demand is not small. Two of the guys said they would have to be paid $250,000 to live in Morocco. One other girl said $500,000. I said I need a million. And I was not lying or exaggerating. ( in fact, I probably would not go even with a million)

First, the country is quite chaotic. In train stations, stores, bathrooms, people do not line up or often jump lines. In the Medina, people drove motorbikes and even small cars very fast on narrow streets with loads of pedestrians. When we were walking in Casablanca, people would stare at us or greet me in Japanese, Chinese or English in a flirtatious way. To live in such chaos requires a strong heart.

Secondly, many people are not honest and try to take every advantage they can if you do not look like one of them. We were lied to by taxi drivers right out of the airport, again when we were just getting into he Medina and dropped off by the taxi driver to a random stranger who asked for more and more payment after he took us to the Riad. That sort of lies was repeated in Casablanca and Fes, when driver tried to earn more money from us, merchants tried to sell things to us at astronomical prices, and random strangers tried to get us lost so they could make money take us back to where we were. In a place of complete dishonesty, I don’t see any trust or efficiency being built into the system.

Thirdly, most people there are not very well-educate and women are not treated equally. Although a temp worker at the last Riad we stayed in told us that the school system is just like the one in France, and many women are working high paid jobs, that was not the reality we saw. Our dessert tour guide and driver married his close cousin, who’s 10 years younger than him. She doesn’t work, stays home and is expecting their first child. I didn’t see many women working in the Medina. There are some working in the airport, but in the countryside, we mostly saw only working men. If almost half of the country’s human capital is not being well-utilized, I am not sure if there is any opportunity for foreign woman like me. (I am sure it’s close to none.)

Last but not least, the country does not have very good development opportunities. Tourism is one of the country’s main industry, yet it is suffering due to European recession. Morocco is a destination for old European tourists from France and Spain. But quite a few people there told us that European tourists declined 40% in the past few years. The country is not very well-governed, despite having a democratic electoral system. Only 40-50% of all areas have stable access to water. And in certain villages and towns, electricity is not in stable supply.

There are good natural scenarios in Morocco, despite all the humanistic disappointments. Despite being a small country, morocco has astonishing landscapes, from the sea to the mountains to the valleys to deserts. Atlas and Sahara, and the Atlantic Ocean can all be seen if one lives in morocco. When I was sitting in the dessert, looking at the endless sky, full of shining stars, I remembered again how small human beings are compared to the universe. When we see a star, it might have already disappeared, because it takes light billions of years to travel from many of those stars to the earth, when light reaches us, we are looking at the stars that exited billions of light years ago. There are limited things we can do during this one life time, limited places we can see and limited choices we have. I am very fortunate to be able to live quite happily so far, and fortune rewards my effort with good results.

I hope this lasts.

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