When I had the idea to start my business in decoration, Marrakech was an obvious choice for the first destination. I had at it all planned in my mind: I was going to hunt in the souks from morning till night and go to the Atlas Mountains to find Berber villages. Except that I had never been to Morocco, and my family and friends did not really trust me to go out alone to this adventure. My then-fiancé, now my husband, agreed to accompany me on this very first trip.
Our guide was Abdul from Marrakech Guided Tours (www.marrakechguidedtours.com).
Abdul was absolutely great. On our first day, he took us to the souks of Marrakech, where we were supposed to spend a couple of hours looking around and getting an idea of Marrakech has to offer. However, that little peek around quickly escalated to 5 hours of intense research, finds and haggling.
Abdul takes tourists to the places he knows, based on their requests but does not influence his clients in their decisions. He shows them the different choices, encourages them to ask questions and above all, lets them negotiate. He has nothing to gain in trading and does not bargain with shop keepers. He prefers to go directly to the managers. And he does not support small stories invented to sell to tourists. He will certainly never push you to buy anything.
Abdul shared with us his knowledge of the souks, recommended us artisans and shops, and especially encouraged us to ask a lot of questions and touch all the products to understand the differences in quality.
We also booked with him a day of hiking in the Atlas Mountains. He first took us to a local market where we came out with our shoes covered in mud because of the rain. We then took the road to the Atlas Mountains at the entrance of the first village. From there, we walked about 5 hours from one village to another.
We were able to stop at the Kasbah of Toubkal, where we could taste traditional bread that had just been baked by an old lady in the gardens.
In the village of Arghen, we were introduced to the tea ceremony and enjoyed a super-hearty lunch (an assortment of salads, beef couscous and chicken tajine).
After the hike, we returned to Marrakech and Abdul took us to see other artisans in the souks. He introduced us to El Idrissi Mohamed, a craftsman who makes beanbags and cushions from old rugs and Handiras. Mohamed was a proud craftsman in a tiny shop that was filled with coloured fabrics, with his sewing machine in the middle.
The best decision of our trip was definitely to engage with Abdul.