The 5 Stages of Shopping in Marrakech:
A partially fictional encounter as told by Kaithlyn
Shopping in Marrakech is hectic, stressful but definitely an experience. We spent three days walking through the Medina, trying our best to suppress our inner impulsive buyer mentality, and not get sucked into the artisanal shops filled with things we didn’t need, such as a wooden box with a hidden key compartment and a 3-step-opening process. If you’re wondering what it’s like to shop in Marrakech, here’s a little step-by-step of how things usually go.
Stage 1: “America!” “Ni hao!” “Konichiwa!”
Slowly but surely, with minimal glances at our cell phones, we try not to seem lost, when in fact the past thirty minutes we’ve been wondering why we even left our riad in the first place. Tiny alleyways, little shops filled with trinkets that may be handmade or made in China, storekeepers try to grab our attention by trying to make a connection, by attempting to guess our ethnicities. Darrel chimes in with the occasional, “We’re American!” – though we look some type of Asian (Filipino), we were born and raised in America, and I know this is still very confusing for a lot of people.
Stage 2: “I’m Filipino!”
One can only take so much, and after the nth “Ni hao,” Darrel decides to chime in and bust out his explanation, “We’re American, but our parents were born in the Philippines.” I roll my eyes, and in my mind, I think, “Here we go.” They successfully make the connection with Darrel, and because we’re too nice to insist on not going inside to “just look,” we end up in yet another spice shop.
Stage 3: “No buy, just look.”
That phrase. That. Is. How. They. Get. You.
The shopkeeper, who will be referred to from now on as Mr. Spice Man, after successfully reeling us into his shop, proceeds to show and explain the different spices he has in the store, making sure to take a scoopful of each different one for us to smell. Five spices. Six. Seven. The inside of my nose is suffering at this point. Yes, I know what cardamom is. Mr. Spice Man decides to spice it up even further and has his friend prepare some freshly-grinded cardamom, with the help of a very conveniently-placed grinder in the shop. After smelling it, I come to the conclusion that freshly ground spices are no different than grocery-store ones, but hey – that’s why no one calls me Ms. Spice Woman I guess.
Stage 4: Spilling the tea
As Mr. Spice Man’s friend continues to scoop up different spices for us to smell, making sure that we don’t miss a single one, we are invited to sit down on stools and partake in traditional Mint Tea. Conversations are shared, and we learn about Mr. Spice Man’s mixed Berber-Moroccan heritage and life story. Darrel, proceeds to tell his life story as well, while I sip and listen, wondering where this is all going – if Darrel is actually going to buy something
Out of nowhere, Mr. Spice Man’s friend comes in with menthol crystals (or as I call them, crystal menth) drops one of them into the tea and they have us smell it. Hook, line and sinker. Darrel is a sucker for the Thai-menthol/peppermint sticks, and has at least two of those bad boys on him at all times, one in each pocket. Sometimes he manages to sneak them into my bag, so I may have one at all times as well. He’s sold. This is when I know things are about to get exciting.
Stage 5: The race to the middle
My favorite part of any transaction process is haggling – a skill I have learned and perfected in the Philippines.
Mr. Spice Man (MSM): My friend 50 durham for the crystals.
Darrel (D): *having learned how to haggle from my mom in the Philippines* 25.
MSM: 45 durham.
D: 30 *not budging – I can tell by his expression and body language that he’s not going higher than this*
MSM: 30 and a chocolate bar for my son, please sir.
D: 30 and you can have my shirt (3 Euro shirt from Primark)Partially fictional conversation between Darrel and Mr. Spice Man
Boom. We walk out with crystals, and a shirtless Darrel. Was it a win? Let us know in the comment box down below.