I honestly don’t know where to begin with this story as it has a little bit of everything, it was almost like being a wine cork floating in a bathtub. There were ups and downs, highs and lows, moments of hilarity and moments for tears. But ultimately, I think I’ve come out of this experience a stronger person and with the knowledge that you’re never truly alone. Allow me to explain.
It was meant to be a simple trip with a Polish friend of mine, Rafal with whom I’ve travelled to Malta this January. Flights were booked to Marrakesh, reservations and plans were being made. Imagine my surprise when my travel partner informs me he actually doesn’t have a passport – to fly to Morocco…
With our arrangements totally up in the air and my friend’s new passport not likely to arrive in time, I had a choice to make. Should I stay or should I go? In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a blond, white girl from Poland. As such, traveling to Arab countries can be…challenging…to put it mildly. I was nervous, to say the least, especially after hearing one or two horror stories from fellow solo female travellers venturing to Marrakech.
In the end, I made the decision to go, backed 100% by my boyfriend, Cez, Lydia and my own mum! It wasn’t a moment too soon either, as I was still struggling with the dilemma less than seven hours until my flight. However, there I was traveling alone to Morocco, with more than a little apprehension. What could possibly go wrong?!
A Lucky Choice of Hostel
I was staying at La Casa Del Sol hostel which is right in the heart of the city – and I’m really rather glad I did. I felt very safe there (more of that in a moment) and it was a comfortable and welcoming home away from home. I was in town for five days, and my single room was all I could have hoped for, while the hostel itself was a beautiful, traditional Moroccan design – including a rooftop terrace from where you can enjoy that famous Arabian sunset across the city. It’s a budget-friendly option too!
I felt immediately that it was a great spot for solo female travellers, and this is largely in part due to Lashan – the hostel’s charming receptionist. He would adopt me as his older sister and made my stay here the best it could possibly have been – even in spite of difficult circumstances. I was to discover that my initial reservations about traveling here alone were justified.
Developing a Thick Skin
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve travelled the world, seen a few things, got into some scrapes and learned a lesson or two, but walking the streets of Marrakesh alone as a white female was one of the most intimidating experiences of my life. I tried to stay positive and enjoy the sights and attractions of the city, and while I’ve developed a thick skin to deal with slurs and sexual comments over the years, I was upset at just how brazen they could be.
And I needed to be tough because the sexual remarks and insults I would receive (and are too base to even think of repeating here) were to sadly become a feature of my stay here. That is until I came under the protection of my hospitable host and temporary guardian!
A Lasting Friendship
Troubled by my encounters with Arab men, I was, admittedly, feeling vulnerable and alone. I was questioning having come here in the first place. Lashan recognized this almost immediately, and he went out of his way to make sure my memories here would be positive ones. We clicked right away and spent a lot of time together as he all but became my private security.
He would very kindly accompany me every time I went out to make sure I wasn’t getting insulted or ripped off, even if it was simply to walk me to the local photocopy shop to print of the boarding pass for my flight home.
We studied together, listened to some tunes, and when Ramadan was over, ate Moroccan pancakes at 1 am in the morning. It’s fair to say that without his support and presence, my time in Marrakech would have been significantly darker.
Lashan was a bundle of positive energy, always smiling, always ready to help and an absolute credit to La Casa Del Sol hostel. And so, it was with mixed emotions that I left Marrakesh, in one hand leaving behind “my little brother from another mother,” while at the same time I will certainly not miss the torrent of abuse I received for being alone Caucasian female. It certainly isn’t going to boost their tourist economy for solo female travellers!
But in the end, for every negative experience I had, Lashan ensured I had several positive ones. He is undoubtedly a very special person, guiding me safely around the best spots of the city, introducing me to the delights of homemade Moroccan food, and generally being a companion when I needed it the most. In a world where some say chivalry is long dead, I salute you, sir, a knight in shining armor.
Although that’s probably a little hot to wear in Morocco.
Have you ever experienced similar kindness from strangers? Let us know – we do love a good happy ending!