Monday, 22 February 2016

For The Record, I Do Like Sticking It To My Travelers Anxiety!

This is something 'travelish' I shall say, but to keep things interesting I'll add that I'm sitting above the roof tops of Tangier, Morocco where I'm looking out at the Strait of Gibraltar. Not bad eh?
Tangier, Morocco (taken 2016)

Recently I had my share of 'bad moments' in Spain, in which my emotions got the best of me. This I Facebooked so that my people back home wouldn't be the cause of my repeating the story over and over (I for one hate repeating myself) and so far they've been pretty cool about it. I thought that by doing this the worst might not come to pass again. However, now onto my second day in Morocco I've found the beast rearing its big shamster head once more. The anxiety was back.

I'm at a good hostel in the Medina, right near the port so I'd always hoped for an easyish walk but I was blindsided by a 'friendly good person' who I honestly thought had been sent over by the hostel. They had mentioned the place's name so I was convinced of their validity on the spot. I was taken into the Medina, made some turns and I very quickly found myself standing outside of my hostel. I was in a good place. The friendly good person went on to say, 'I'll be waiting out here for you so I can take you around the Medina to the shops and the restaurants. I'll get you some really good Moroccan food.'

I was sleep deprived, I'd bitten the heads off of two well-meaning Spanish ladies only doing their jobs (I did apologise) and I was convinced that this was something really good the hostel hadn't mentioned on their website. Long story short, about an hour later I was out almost 800 dirham and pissed as hell! At least I was able to sleep that night.

Starting my second day feeling a little more cautious, I went to the train station to book a bed on the overnight train to Marrakech when another friendly good person came by saying that he was nice and resentful of the shamsters ruining the image of his country. I humoured the guy (he did say he wasn't going to ask for any money) and he showed me to the station. Half a block away he wanted 250 dirham for his 'kind act'.

Now, I firmly believe that if we start underestimating strangers we can be voluntarily screwed. I didn't want to be part of an incident (Aussies can be most volatile when across the sea. Just look at all the shit we've stirred up in Bali), so I gave the man 200 and walked away, holding my head high but knowing full well that I've got to change if I'm to survive. We leave our homelands and we make ourselves vulnerable, regardless of wherever it is we venture to.
Tangier, Morocco (taken 2016)

Presently it's a warm Monday afternoon here in Tangier. Seagulls and the smell of burning wood are filling the air, the latter of which I like. Hours ago, after returning from the station with my ticket that I'll be changing to an earlier service, I shared my experiences with some here at the hostel. A Moroccan (the receptionist), a Swedish couple I played Othello with on night one and an American who proved herself a most interesting of case studies. They all told me the same thing, I've got to start saying 'No.' Hell, I should even be mean if I have to.

This couldn't be more true. I'm the kind of weakling who doesn't like confrontation. I avoid it every time it might show itself, but after getting screwed around twice within twenty-four hours I know I've got to tell these 'friendly good people' where to go. I mean I did it more than enough times in Thailand and for months I've even convinced myself that 'Morocco is the Thailand of Africa'.

By this point I was afraid I'd have myself another 'anxious Seville moment' and be needing to call the parentals back in Melbourne for some sympathetic words. Tangier wasn't working for me, I couldn't do a bus tour to Chefchaouen which I'd been looking forward to and I was feeling the nerves take hold. This is a feeling I wouldn't wish on my own enemy! Add to that, I was still missing some good old fashioned generic pasta.

What am I to do then? Last anxious moment led me to altering my Spanish plans which worked out all right, so I reasoned that I should do the same here. Upon learning that I CAN change the date of my train ticket (I just have to walk the kilometre plus back to the station to make it happen) I've since decided to head to Marrakech earlier.

Did I then learn that Marrakech outshines Tangier in its horde of friendly nice people, yes, but I'm not caring. I need to be positive and make these two weeks in Morocco work for me! I know I can sneak out of Marrakech for some nature day trips which is something I long for. Fortunately, something very positive presented itself this afternoon.

Heading out to the Grand Socco for food I was once again pursued by more of the friendly nice people, four or five in total. I copped a whole year of chlorine and staying in the one spot to cross the world and I refused to let some lessers take advantage of me... and my hard earned money! They came up one by one (I even tried speaking a made up language to dissuade them) but I simply looked the other way. I told them NO as firmly as I could. Those actions have left me in a place that I needed to be standing in.

This by no means was meant to be an analytical discussion on anxiety, but I believe this to be valid. Experiences are what we learn from, the ups and the downs, and in most of those cases we're left all the better for it. We stand taller, we see ourselves going further. I've found myself in a lot of these positions and I've now decided not to be shy about about them.

So, I'm going to keep going through Morocco. I'm going to remain optimistic and stick it to my travelers anxiety. I have the Netherlands and seeing and old friend to look forward to and a few more days in London so I can end everything on a high (wish I was spending more time in England!) This is me at my best and I hope it can help you be to.
Tangier, Morocco (taken 2016)

PS The Grand Socco did provide what I'd been missing oh so dearly. The pasta represents victory.  

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