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FEATURE ARTICLES: TRAVEL: Never Alone in Morocco

Never Alone in Morocco
by STAN SINBERG

There are times in Morocco that you swear that you have never seen so many people in your life, and then you turn the corner, and there are more people than that .

In the evening and the early morning there is a sheer onslaught of human flesh, filling the squares, markets, mosques, bathhouses, cafes, and Byzantine, twisted passageways of the medina, the old city. They come to shop, bathe, catch a breeze, pray, collect water, watch fire-eaters and snake handlers, debate the Koran, and gossip. Lovers flee their small, crowded dwellings in order to gain privacy. Being in Morocco means never having to say you're alone.

Daytime is the respite. In the heat of the day, particularly the peak heat hours of the mid-afternoon, wandering through the markets- the souks - past the spices of jasmine and clumps of Spanish Fly, past the rows of shoes and almond nougats and leather bags and heads of goat - the shop owners resemble nothing so much as mid-Westerners sitting on their front porch watching the weather change, and you're the occasional tumbleweed blowing through Dodge.

But even then you will not be alone.

Because within seconds of coming anywhere remotely close to a tourist area - and when I say "tourist area" I mean anyplace where the people outnumber camels - an enterprising man as young as 12 will come up to you and ask you where you're from. And when you answer, the response will be "Ah, America! (Or wherever). Big welcome. Big welcome" And then, just like that, you will have a guide showing you around...


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