Leg 1 of my travels, 10 days in Marrakech, relaxing and preparing for the big one – done! I love Morocco so much. Here are my thoughts on it. I hope they help you too!
On Goth, Makeup / Clothing, and the attention you get
I didn’t wear shitloads of makeup (still enough to be ‘me as I choose to be’ though), I did wear all black and most of the things I normally would wear (a little less on the cleavage and arms side though! But that’s Muslim countries for dummies stuff really). The first time I came to Marrakech in 2010 I didn’t wear any makeup because I was afraid of the attention, and I didn’t wear much black because I thought it would cause the heat to be a bigger problem. Honestly, having now come many times over many years, I get the same attention if I wear makeup and if I don’t, and my body temperature is not affected by my black clothing, unless I lie out flat in direct sunlight, clothed in black from head to toe.
(Chilling in my friend’s shop. One of my favourite quiet spots in Marrakech, thanks Morad 😘)
I still get called Shakira and Lady Gaga no matter what I do. Haha. I think its a choice to react or laugh and ignore really. I think between my sister (who is brunette) and I, it has become clear that you get more attention for having blonde (or pink in my case) hair. If you have brunette or black hair it is less because it is more common (I’ve been here in my black hair days as well). I got some cheeky comments about my smiley piercing, but I get the same in London. Other than that, the only other point would be that some people would ask me about why I wore so much black or had so many piercings, out of genuine curiosity. Again, that is much the same anywhere, and it’s always interesting to talk about what makes us who we are in the realm of subculture. The guy who runs my Riad said maybe I could cover my tattoo of a coffin with something less morbid (it’s only a small one) I laughed and said, “But I like coffins!” to which he said “Okay, as you like. I guess it’s cute and small.” Too funny.
(Bossing it on set in Ouarzazate after spending a messy, sweaty day in the sun on location at Äit Ben Haddou)
Being a girl travelling by myself (as I began three days ago when my sister went home) I find mostly that it is no difference. Some people ask in surprise if you are travelling alone, and I just answer wisely, depending on where I am and who I am with. I had one delightful shop owner offer me sex “for free, no charge”, which is vile, of course, but as anywhere, people look for a reaction. If it had been a passing comment I would have ignored it, but as he had grabbed my hand and begun to speak to me seriously, I told him his mother would slap him for saying it, and then I asked him if he would speak to his sister in such a way, at which point he backed off and apologised. I mainly said it because I know in Islam, a girl who is muslim you would refer to as your sister. I didn’t expect it to shock him so much, but it really did work. I would rather someone questions how they behave toward a woman than yell more lewd things at me because I yell at them and get angry about their behaviour.
(Me and my sister having a laugh in the shade at the Marjorelle Gardens)
On that note, never take someone’s hand to shake it when they offer it outside of genuine conversation! I think it’s totally okay to pull your hand away with force if someone grabs it without your permission also. On the flip side, if you have appreciated conversation with someone, offer your hand and say thank you and introduce yourself. Also, I keep my hands well out of reach of the pushy Henna ladies in Jeema el Fna. If I want your henna, I’ll ask for it. As it is, my friend Priya is one of the best henna artists I know, so I’ve been spoiled for holiday henna adventures.
(My fav Moroccan drink, Avocado and Orange juice 😍😍😍😍😍)
Which leads us to haggling. I’ve said more on haggling before in my blog about Egypt here. It’s much the same in Morocco. The rules are;
• Haggle the shit out of it, end of.
• Don’t get carried away, be aware of how much you are paying for an item in your own currency also. a 300 dirham dress would be a £30 dress – is it worth £30 really? (this is just an example, I’d never pay 300 for a dress ^_^ unless it was literally sparkling with crystals, and then it would cost more anyway…)
• Walk away, it’s not the end of the world, you don’t have to buy it. If they want to sell it for the price you are offering, they will follow you and offer again.
• Enjoy it. If you are tired and grumpy, don’t go shopping, you’ll just get annoyed.
Best haggling moment this trip. Me any my sister found a bag we liked. He told us it was 80 dirhams, I offered 30 (which was pretty low but I’d seen it for 50 elsewhere and I wanted it for 40.) We haggled for a bit and got stuck at 40 – 50 so I offered 45 and said we were done. He took it and then he said “Now I get a kiss too,” and offered his cheek, so I put out my hand and told him it costs 5 dirham for a kiss. My sister can’t stop laughing at this point and the poor boy is mortified and heart broken all at once. Moroccans have a really good sense of humour, and you have to accept there will be nice people and jerks in every country.
(My sister and I on our way to dinner in the evening – I love this photo so much!!)
Okay, so this journey is only starting and it’s a long one, but for my first 10 days I already have some key travel items and some tips on Goth travels in hot countries. Actually most of it is relevant to any female traveller.
Eyebrows (because they are the one thing I must always do SOMETHING with, even if I do nothing else – so its a long paragraph, ha!)
I’ve been trialling different products in advance of some filming we’ll be doing in pretty hot climates. And I had settled on the Wunderbrow gel, because it stays on for two days with a bit of care. HOWEVER, I found that it dried up into a cloggy curdled mess a few days after I arrived in Marrakech. Admittedly it was getting low anyway, but it really annoyed me (my sister could tell you about my eyebrow tantrum, but thats a story for another time maybe), so mental note to self that its not a good product for hot climates. Perhaps a gel product in a pot would be okay, but not in a brush applicator bottle. My solution in the moment was to use my NYX primer and then mix a grey and brown shade from my NYX **** palette to make a colour that worked. It turned out to be a pretty good solution, even with the heat it lasted all day. But now I need to rethink what I will use for South East Asia, because I know if I try to wipe sweat from my face the eyeshadow option will come off.
As I didn’t really have time to spend on full make up, and I also only had carry-on-100ml-small-bag limits, I really left my face bare and used only concealer under and on my eyes when my sister and I went out in the evening for a nice dinner (at a palace, damn straight!). Also used a bit of bronzer as a blush/contour, but not much.
With the sweat and heat I had some breakouts so it was generally better to leave my face fresh and use tea tree oil to treat it. At the Hammam I had a facemask too. For products you can buy in Morocco I would of course recommend Argan oil for cosmetic used – it’s lovely for hair and face. Do a bit of research to get some from somewhere good but affordable. Also, sunscreen!
I used my black gel eyeliner as a base and packed eye shadow on top when I needed a quick solution that was dark, blending out the edges with a lighter colour, like a reverse smoky eye routine. I didn’t use any foundation, only a primer and a bit of concealer on my eyes when I put shadow on. On some days I used gel eye liner as my whole eye makeup routine, blending out the edges on my upper lid and under my eyes. Given that it was 40+ degrees celsius on many days, by the end of the day it was a sweaty black mess, but still didn’t look too bad, more of a glossy-oil-slick-dewy-eyelid look 😀 For mascara I have a Clinique one which is great, it works the best and I got it in a gift bag so its travel sized!
Definitely a fan of the matte lipstick. I’ve used NYX and Limecrime here and they’ve both been great. The NYX Suede ones have been good as a creme option. I wouldn’t recommend stick lipsticks because it bleeds in the heat. My sister had a great routine where she uses a 50spf lip creme and then layers blistex over the top to stop her from licking it off. I think its a good idea to wear sunscreen for your lips in this kind of heat, but it does taste gross so her solution is a good one.
Keep them clean. Babywipes are my go to for everything and I’ll put them in my “items I wouldn’t travel without” section. But yes, keeping them clean is a big thing, because there is a lot of sand and dust in Morocco and it does get everywhere!
Chokers are becoming pretty popular everywhere, including in the souks of Marrakech, so you’re unlikely to have any issues wearing full jewelery, and to be honest, you are just as likely to get unwanted attention anywhere in the world, or more importantly, just for being a girl on your own or out with other girls in Marrakech. I wore all my rings as well, I didn’t wear bracelets or a watch as tan lines are naff.
Items I wouldn’t travel without
My Sarong (large square of thin cotton material)
I have a black sarong that generally goes in my bag whenever I am travelling longer than one weekend away, or when I am going somewhere other than Europe. Its plain black because this makes it versatile, and obviously it’s my colour. In Marrakech so far it has been a dress, a top, a sunshade, a towel, a cover-all when commuting between hammam and pool when I don’t want to be running around in just my bikini. It’s also been a sheet in the evenings because it’s lighter weight than the bed sheets. It’s been a hair towel, a scarf, a hijab, and if I tie it cleverly, a shoulder bag. 100% one of the handiest things I travel with. And did I mention it’s black. I love it.
Flip Flops (Havaianas, Jandals, or Thongs – you dirty Australians!)
Okay, I know these are not for everyone, I used to HATE flip flips with a passion and find them extrememely uncomfortable, until I bought a pair of Havaianas. I’m only ever an advocate for a brand when I believe in what they do or the quality of what they make, and 100% I have only ever purchased Havaianas after the first pair that my sister Sarah gave me. I literally live in them when I am in Morocco. They are well designed with a thick foam that is always comfortable to walk on (not like cheap pairs when the plastic rubs and you can feel the little plugs that are holding them together. For some reason Havaianas also do not make blisters in between my big toe and my second toe, unlike other flip flops. For reference, I have small, wide feet, so maybe it’s just that they are designed right for my foot shape – let me know your thoughts.
But aren’t they just shoes? Yes, they are, but they are light and easy to pack, they can be worn in a load of different environments (provided you have a black pedicure of course!) Importantly, they are ideal for wearing in a shower or wearing indoors if you are staying in a hostel. A must in the shower to avoid catching other travellers foot germs. (top tip; slide your feet around in the shower, don’t lift and move because the suction action makes it awkward if the floor is smooth. If the floor is not smooth, you’re all good).
Because cats are cute to cuddle, and I like to eat food, and I didn’t get any rabies jabs (nor will I.) Also handy when there is nowhere to wash your hands, or you get dirty in any other way and don’t have water to wash. Great for a quick on the go alcohol sterilising solution for many things also! Also, contrary to much advice, I like trying street food (though being vegetarian probably makes this a less hazardous activity for my guts) and having something to clean your hands with before you eat is handy.
For the same reasons as a sarong, but on a smaller scale. A must have when travelling in countries with a majority Muslim or Buddhist population as it will likely make you feel more comfortable in certain areas – also nothing wrong with respecting the culture of the country you are visiting. Note, it’s also black.
Okay okay, instagram princess alert maybe, but even if you aren’t precious about sharing your holiday photos on the go, a selfie stick allows you to cherish the memories of you being in that particular place, especially if you travel alone, which I often do. I have never shamed someone for travelling with a selfie stick since the time I went to Athens by myself. Also worth noting this time that my first trips to Marrakech included lots of “I’m sort of good at this travel photography gig” photos taken on my Canon DSLR (1000D), I came home with lots of beautiful photos of life in Morocco, but none of me in Morocco. This time I have loads, as my instragam testifies…!
Babywipes are life when travelling (and for festivals) they are makeup wipes, sweat wipes, a portable shower, toilet paper, a wet cloth to clean pretty much everything. I always use Huggies because they are a paper based wipe rather than a cloth based one (Most cheap ones are cloth based). Being paper based I believe they would biodegrade easier, but most importably they feel softer on my face, and I can rip off a smaller piece if I don’t want to use a whole wipe.
If there’s anything I haven’t covered or haven’t said and you want to know more – ask me! 🙂
Right, now it’s back to London for me for a few days before we’re onto the next leg…. New Zealand!!!!!