SHIP MY BEST FRIEND IS STUDYING ABROAD IN RABAT NEXT SEMESTER WHAT SHOULD THEY KNOW
Go to the old medina. On the right side of Mohammad V, going North, there may be a woman in niqab selling smoothies. She has a small table outside a shop, and the sign advertises avocado smoothies. Her fingers may be stained with henna. Order a strawberry smoothie. It’s absolutely divine. She’s not there every day, but when she is, you MUST buy juice from her. I never learned her name, but she laughed when I called her Sayyida Asiir - “juice lady”, and thought I was Harry Potter.
If you continue down Mohammad V and turn left on Ave Laalou, the chef at Cafe Laalou is a sweetheart and will probably try to teach you Arabic. The food isn’t great, but the coffee is good. There’s a family upstairs with a son, about seven years old. He loves Spider-Man. His mom is a jerk, but his grandparents are nice.
There’s a Syrian restaurant to the South and West of the old medina. Two, actually. The one on the same street as the grocery store is better. The staff there is great. Just outside the medina is a smoothie shop called Le Gout du Fruit. Order the avocado smoothie. If you don’t like it, order a raspberry smoothie next time. If you DO like it, go back to the Syrian restaurant and order the avocado smoothie with nuts on top. It’s heavenly. (Moroccan ice cream is not great. Moroccan smoothies are enchanted.) Try sugar cane juice - you’ll see carts selling it along the road. Don’t order the snails. Buy rgheif with butter or Nutella for a snack. The muezzin on Rue Souika is terrible and everyone knows it, but don’t comment, even if he sneezes or coughs in the middle of the adhan - he’s doing his best, hopefully. The street vendors will try to overcharge you if you are white, and will occasionally gossip about you in Darija if they think you don’t speak it. Don’t pet the cats unless you see locals doing it, and definitely don’t try to rescue stray dogs. There will be crates of small tortoises piled on top of each other; you cannot help them. Camel head tastes like beef, but fattier and chewier - the locals will observe you curiously if you order it, and are generally impressed by Americans with adventurous taste buds. Don’t buy tea, ever - your teeth will thank you. It is syrupy with sugar and you will be politely forced to drink gallons of it by anyone you visit. Attend a public bath with someone who knows what they’re doing. The As-Shouhada’ Cemetery is haunted. The souk is also haunted, but only at night, after the shops close up - it become the marketplace of djinnoon. The beach is full of young couples making out, but the police patrol it and may arrest you if they catch you kissing. Children may rob you, but you can usually buy Kleenex from them if they’re selling. If an old man with missing fingers grabs your hand and holds it, insisting that you’ve made a deal and he’s come to collect his end of the bargain, get away from him. Don’t try to buy drugs, and don’t be seen talking to drug dealers. Insist that cab drivers turn on the meter when you get in the car. It’s not weird to say “Inshallah” when speaking of plans/goals or “Mashallah” when complimenting someone, even if you’re not Muslim - it’s good manners and, in some situations, basic decency. Don’t prop your feet on furniture, and invest in a pair of slippers to wear indoors.
If your friend is a woman, she needs to steel herself for an overwhelming amount of street harassment. There are decent and respectful men in Morocco, but in public, you’re going to get hell. If your friend is short-haired and relatively androgynous, she will frequently be mistaken for a boy. If your friend is a man, he needs to go out of his way to be there for his female classmates and ready to escort them after dark or through unfamiliar places. @thisisradionowhere can tell you more.